August 13, 2012

0307 UNITED STATES (Guam) - Guam... or rather Guahan

In 521 Martin Luther was excommunicated, Hernán Cortés had knelt the Aztec Empire, Suleiman the Magnificent conquered Belgrade, The Grand Duchy of Moscow annexed the Principality of Ryazan, and Ferdinand Magellan crossed the Pacific in the name of Charles V. On March 6, Magellan discovered the Guahan island (in the archipelago which he official named Islas de las Velas Latinas, later became Las Marianas). No could be said that was the best year of the Spaniard explorer, because after less than two months he will be killed in the Philippines.

Spaniards established the first colony on the island in 1668, and for more than two centuries it was an important stopover for the Spanish Manila-Acapulco Galleons that crossed the Pacific annually. In 1898, during the Spanish-American War, a fleet of United States captured the 54 Spaniards soldiers who defended the Fort Santa Cruz, but without leaving their own troops on the island. At that time, a single American citizen lived on the island, on which the new "owners" called Guam.

Hence, Spaniards galleons were replaced by American ships, Guam serving as a station on the route between America and, you guessed it, Philippines. Conquered by the Japanese on December 8, 1941, at few hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the island was taken back by United States on July 21, 1944. More than 18,000 Japanese were killed on the battle, as only 485 surrendered. 486, if we count also on the Sergeant Shoichi Yokoi, who surrendered in January 1972. Nowadays, most of the tourists who visit the island are Japanese.

Since 1950, Guam is an unincorporated organized territory of the United States, its inhabitants having the U.S. citizenship, but without to vote for president, because the island isn't a U.S. state.

The picture (taken from 4,000km) shows the island seen from the south. Its Western shoreline faces the Philippine Sea, while just a few km away the Eastern beaches faces the Pacific Ocean. Shaped somehow like a footprint, because was formed by the union of two volcanoes, it's approximately 48km in length with a variable width, ranging from 19km to 6km. The highest point is Mount Lamlam, with an elevation of 406m. But impressive is Mariana Trench, that lies beside the island chain to the east and reach the maximum-known depth of the planetary ocean, 10,994m.

A coral reef, with deepwater channels, surrounds most of Guam. A relatively flat coralline limestone plateau is source of most fresh water. Steep coastal cliffs with narrow coastal plains dominate the north, while the south is mountainous, and the center is characterized by lower hills. Attached to the southwestern coast can be seen the Cocos Lagoon, a small incomplete coral atoll, having atop the southern portion of the Merizo Barrier Reef Cocos Island and Babe Island, which separate the lagoon from the open ocean. In the northwest, Mamaon Channel separates Cocos Lagoon from the main island of Guam and allows boat access to Merizo, a village with about 2,000 inhabitants.

About the stamps

The first two stamps are part of the forever series Four Flags (issued on February 22, 2012) which features a bright U.S. flag against a white background. A word appears on each stamp, the black typeface recalling the look of Colonial-era printing: Freedom (it's on the postcard), Liberty, Equality (it's on the postcard), and Justice. For those unaware, forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce rate.
• Freedom - It's on the postcard 0307
• Liberty - It's on the postcard 2374
• Equality - It's on the postcard 0307
• Justice

The third is also a forever one issued on 2012, on April 11. It's the 11th issuance in the American Treasures series, and showcases a painting by William H. Johnson (1901-1970), one of the country’s foremost African-American artists, recognized today as a major figure in 20th-century American art. The painting, dated 1939–1940, "depicts a vase of boldly rendered, brightly colored blooms on a small red table".

Guam - Wikipedia
Cocos Lagoon - Wikipedia
Four Flags stamps - Postal News
William H. Johnson forever stamp - United States Postal Service

Sender: Korina / ppalkan (direct swap)
Sent from Barrigada (Guam), on 18.07.2012
Photo: Mitchell P. Warner