One of the Rock Islands

Palau, The Last Paradise - in a Nutshell

Author: Sue
Date: 5th January 2018

Where is Palau?

Palau is an archipelago of over 500 islands, part of the Micronesia region in the western Pacific Ocean. Koror Island is home to the former capital, also named Koror, and is the islands’ commercial centre. The larger island, Babeldaob has the present capital, Ngerulmud, (Great names.)

Who Colonised Palau?

  • Possession of the islands of Palau was initially claimed by Britain, Spain, and Germany in the 1800s, but the Pope decided for Spain.
  • Spain eventually sold the Palau archipelago to Germany in 1899.
  • After World War I the League of Nations awarded Palau to Japan.
  • The USA began administration of Palau in 1947, when the islands became a part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.

Is Palau a Country?

  • Palau was going to form part of the independent Federated States of Micronesia, but opted out when it was decided that Pohnpei was to be the capital and administrative centre, instead of Palau. To compensate, this country of only 20,000 people has become the world’s most over-governed place. Its territory is divided into sixteen states which each have an elected legislature and a tribal chiefdom.
  • This was the world’s youngest country (1981) until South Sudan was formed in 2011.
  • In 1985, the first President of the Republic of Palau was assassinated.

Facts and Factoids

  • Palau’s currency is the U.S. dollar.
  • Palauan women, like their male counterparts, traditionally used to go topless in the past. They used only a two-piece skirt and a few garlands as costumes. Today, some local women still continue their traditional dressing, although more covered and conservative styles of modern clothing have found their way into their culture, especially with the heavy influx of tourists.
  • And Palauan society is based on a strict matrilineal system. Women make the decisions in all areas of life.
  • Fruitbat soup is a delicacy here.
  • Palau is famous for its jellyfish lake on Eil Malk Island. There were millions of non poisonous jelly fish here, with tourists allowed to swim in them. It was closed during my visit - the tourists have done their best to eradicate the poor creatures.
  • Palau doesn't have an army. The USA is responsible for defending Palau.
  • The Koror Jail is the only prison. The inmates sell elaborately carved wooded storyboards at a shop in the the jail.

Is Palau Safe to Visit?

Palau is thought to be a very safe place to travel. Outside Koror it is very quiet. Crime rates are low, though there are the usual cautions about staying aware and checking local laws.

Where to Visit in Palau?

  • A huge number of turtles, dolphins, sharks and many species of fish which are not found anywhere in the world gather at this crossroads of three of the world’s main ocean currents. This is why there’s a saying in Japanese: ‘Palau is the last paradise.’
  • Koror is home to some beautiful tranquil beaches and rainforest
  • To the north is more stunning tropical island scenery at Kayangel Atoll
  • But the fabulous Rock Islands are totally unmissable for scenery, boat trips and snorkelling/diving. Take the airplane trip for the unforgettable view from the air.

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