Palau is an island country located in the western Pacific Ocean.
The official name of the country is the Republic of Palau.
Geographically, the country is part of the larger island group of Micronesia.
Palau has two official languages: Palauan and English.
As of 1 January 2017, the population of Palau was estimated to be 21,348 people.
It is the 180th largest country in the world in terms of land area with 465 square kilometers (180 square miles).
The country contains more than 250 islands.
The islands include four types of topographical formations: volcanic, high limestone, low platform, and coral atoll.
Palau’s economic and commercial hub of Koror comprises Koror Island and its two satellite islands, Malakal and Ngerkebesang. The only city of any note in Palau, Koror is home to about two-thirds of the country’s population and hosts most of its tourist facilities.
The capital Ngerulmud is located on the nearby island of Babeldaob. It replaced Koror, as capital in 2006.
Palau is a beautiful tropical paradise, and one of the true unspoiled destinations on the planet.
Geographically, the terrain varies from the high, mountainous main island of Babeldaob to low coral islands usually fringed by large barrier reefs.
Palau’s highest point is Mount Ngerchelchauus located on Babeldaob island. The peak of Mount Ngerchelchauus is 242 meters (794 feet) above sea level.
As an island nation, Palau’s best known geographic feature is its coastlines, with beautiful beaches and clear blue waters.
The coastline of the islands total 1,519 kilometers (944 miles) in length.
Palau is also home to the world-famous Rock Islands. The Rock Islands are a cluster of more than two hundred rounded knobs of forest-capped limestone that plunges steeply into the sea. The Islands were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012.
Jellyfish Lake is a marine lake located on Eil Malk island. Eil Malk is part of the Rock Islands. Millions of golden jellyfish migrate horizontally across the lake daily. Visitors can swim with the
jellyfish, because they are harmless.
The world’s first shark sanctuary was created by Palau in 2009. The sanctuary protects about 600,000 square kilometers (230,000 square miles) of ocean, a similar size to France.
Palau has many beautiful waterfalls. Ngardmau waterfall is the largest waterfall in Palau. The height of the Ngardmau waterfall is around 37 meters (120 feet) wide and 30 meters (100 feet) high. It is well known to be one of the largest waterfalls in Micronesia.
Palau was originally settled between the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC, most likely from the Austronesia or Indonesia.
The islands were first explored by Europeans in the 16th century, and were made part of the Spanish East Indies in 1574.
Following its defeat in the Spanish–American War, Spain sold Palau and most of the rest of the Caroline Islands to the German Empire in 1899.
During World War I, the Japanese Empire annexed the islands after seizing them from Germany in 1914.
During World War II, the United States captured Palau from Japan in 1944 after the costly Battle of Peleliu, when more than 2,000 Americans and 10,000 Japanese were killed.
In 1947, the United Nations decided the United States would administer Palau as part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.
Having voted against joining the Federated States of Micronesia in 1979, the islands gained full sovereignty in 1994 under a Compact of Free Association with the United States.
Palau’s economy consists primarily of tourism, subsistence agriculture and fishing.
Tourist activity focuses on scuba diving and snorkeling in the islands’ rich marine environment, including its barrier reefs’ walls and World War II wrecks.
The government is the major employer of the work force, relying heavily on financial assistance from the United States.
Palau doesn’t have a military force of its own. The U.S. is responsible for its defense under a Compact of Free Association between Palau and the US.
The country uses the United States dollar as its currency.
Palauan cuisine includes local foods such as cassava, taro, yam, potato, sea food and pork. Western cuisine is favored among young Palauans.
The islands’ culture mixes Micronesian, Melanesian, Asian, and Western elements.
The name for the islands in the Palauan language, Belau, likely derives from either the Palauan word for “village”, beluu, or from aibebelau (“indirect replies”), relating to a creation myth.
Palau has huge number of sea turtles, pelagic predators, sharks, dolphins, and several species of the migratory fish which do not exist anywhere else in the world but are found only in the Palaun archipelago.
Saltwater crocodiles are indigenous to Palau and occur in varying numbers throughout the various mangroves and even in parts of the beautiful rock islands.
Palau has a tropical rainforest climate with an annual mean temperature of 28 °C (82 °F).
Baseball is a popular sport in Palau after its introduction by the Japanese in the 1920s.
Several television programs and films have been shot in Palau. Examples include the reality show Survivor: Palau and the 1968 film Hell in the Pacific starring Lee Marvin.