The territory of Guam is divided into 19 municipalities more commonly called villages. Each municipality is governed by an elected mayor. Village populations range in size from under 1,000 to over 40,000. As of the 2000 census, the total population of Guam was 154,80.
Many villages have rich histories reaching back thousands of years. Artifacts from ancient Chamorro settlements can be found in every village of Guahan. When Spain colonized Guahan, the island was divided into separate districts. Each district consisted of a parish with a village center governed by an alcalde, appointed by the island’s governor.
Many Chamorro were forced to live in the new villages, each centered on a church, so that they could learn Christianity and be more closely monitored by the Spanish. In the 18th century, there were six parishes on Guahan: Hagåtña, Agat, Umatac, Humåtak, Malesso, Inalåjan, Pago.
Prior to Spanish colonization, Chamorro regularly held village celebrations. After adopting Christianity, these celebrations became fiestas in honor of the patron saint of each village. Annual village fiestas are still held throughout Guam every year.