The village name is probably derived from the Chamorro word puti, which means to hurt or ache.
As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the population was 1,454.
Piti’s current Mayor, Vicente “Ben” Diaz Gumataotao, came into office in 2005.
Piti started out as a small pre-Spanish settlement, with plentiful fishing for the ancient Chamorros. Even after the arrival of the Spanish, Piti remained a small village until the Port of San Luis of Apra (Apra Harbor) near Piti became the chief harbor of the Spanish government.
With the increased presence of other European powers in the Pacific in the early 1700s, Spain ordered the improvement of Guam’s defenses.
Between 1720 and 1730, Fort Santiago, a small emplacement with cannons, was erected on top of Orote Peninsula overlooking Apra Harbor.
In 1734, the Spanish opened a new anchorage for ships in Apra Harbor, offering better protection from storms and a higher level of defense than fortifications in the village of Umatac.
In 1737, Fort San Luis, with six cannons, was completed on Orote (near what is now Gab Gab Beach) to defend the anchorage. The area near Gab Gab Beach was a part of Sumay village, which is now U.S. Naval Station Guam.
After 1740, most ships began to anchor in Apra Harbor when the wind was favorable, with cargo transferred via small boats to a pier near the village of Piti. From the village, the goods were transported by two-wheeled carts pulled by steer or oxen to the government store in Hagåtña. For many years, the road connecting the pier at Piti to Hagåtña, made of crushed limestone, was the only real road on Guam.
In the 1830s, the Spanish helped plant the first rice paddies in Piti, which continued until after the World War II.
Piti and Apra Harbor played an important role at critical points in Guam’s history. The surrender of the Spanish government and military on Guam to U.S. Navy Captain Henry Glass, for example, took place at Piti on June 21-22, 1898 during the Spanish-American War, with the cruiser USS Charleston and a contingent of U.S. Marines anchored in Apra Harbor.
Apra Harbor became the port for U.S. naval vessels under the new American government, and in 1899 a navy yard was created on the former Spanish crown property at Piti.
In 1909, the American government established the Experimental Agricultural Station in Piti, along the main road to Hagåtña, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
On December 8, 1941, the Piti navy yard was one of the first targets of Japanese bombing at the start of World War II. Residents of Piti fled the village toward Hagåtña, jamming the main road along with residents of Sumay.
During the occupation, the Japanese forced the Chamorros to turn Piti into a large area of rice paddies to help feed the Japanese troops. The Japanese also forced the Chamorros to help build defenses, including three coastal defense guns set into the hillside of Piti.
The Chamorros had to carry thousands of pounds of steel up the steep terrain and through dense vegetation. The guns were to have a firing range of almost ten miles and were intended for uses against ships and landing craft.
But when the U.S. forces came to retake the island on July 21, 1944, the guns were not fully operational, and were therefore never fired. They remain a site for visitors as part of the War in the Pacific National Historical Park.