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Palau Information
By Beachcomber, retrieved from Wikipedia
Nov 4, 2003, 07:26

The Republic of Palau (also spelled Belau) is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, located some 500 km east of the Philippines. Having gained independence in 1994, it is one of the world's youngest and least populated nations.


The first inhabitants of Palau, probably from Indonesia, settled on the islands as early as 1000 BC. Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobos first sighted the islands in 1543, but attempts to settle on or trade with the islands weren't started until the 18th century, by the British. Spain colonized the islands in the late 19th century, but sold it to Germany in 1899. Japan seized the islands at the start of World War I, and gained a mandate over them until the end of the Second World War, when the islands came under control of the United States as a Trust Territory. The Palauans voted in 1979 not to join the Federated States of Micronesia, and chose independence instead. After a long period of transition, including the violent deaths of two presidents (Haruo Remeliik in 1985 by assassination and Lazarus Salii in 1988 by suicide) independence was finally official in 1994.


The president of Palau, who is both head of state and head of government, is elected by the Palauans every four years. The government he heads consists of a bicameral parliament, known as the Olbiil Era Kelulau. The members of both chambers are chosen by the people; 9 are part of the Senate, and 16 of the House of Delegates. The current president is Tommy Remengesau. He was elected in 2000 and took office in 2001. He had previously served as vice president.


Palau's most important islands are Angaur, Babeldaob , Koror, and Peleliu, which lie together near the same barrier reef. About two thirds of the population lives on Koror. North of these islands, the coral atoll of Kayangel is situated, while the uninhabited Rock Islands (Palau) (ca. 70) are situated to the west of the main island group. A remote group of six islands, known as the Southwest Islands, some 600 km from the main islands, is also part of the country.


Palau enjoys a tropical climate all year round with an annual mean temperature of 82° degrees F. (27° C.). Rainfall can occur throughout the year, the annual average is 150 inches. The average humidity is 82%, and although rain falls more frequently between July and October, there is still much sunshine. Typhoons are rare as Palau is outside the typhoon zone.


The economy consists primarily of tourism, subsistence agriculture, and fishing. The government is the major employer of the work force, relying heavily on financial assistance from the US. Business and tourist arrivals numbered 50,000 in FY00/01. The population enjoys a per capita income twice that of the Philippines and much of Micronesia. Long-run prospects for the key tourist sector have been greatly bolstered by the expansion of air travel in the Pacific, the rising prosperity of leading East Asian countries, and the willingness of foreigners to finance infrastructure development.


The major ethnic group (70%) among the 19,000 Palauans are the native Palauans, who are Melanesian. Micronesians, Polynesians, IndoEuropeans, and Asians, mostly from the Philippines, account for the minority groups, and there are some Europeans as well. About two thirds of the population are Christians, Catholics and Seventh Day Adventists, but Modekngei (a combination of Christianity, traditional Palauan religion and fortune telling) and the Ancient Palauan Religion is still the most commonly observed household religion.

The official languages of Palau are Palauan and English , except for three states (Sonsorol, Hatohobei, and Anguar) where the local language is official instead of Palauan. In Angaur, Japanese is also official.

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