) is a group of islands in Micronesia.Cities
Melekeok - new capital (pop. 381)Koror - the largest city and former capitalUnderstand
After three decades as part of the UN Trust Territory of the Pacific under US administration, this westernmost cluster of the Caroline Islands opted for independence in 1978 rather than join the Federated States of Micronesia. A Compact of Free Association with the US was approved in 1986, but not ratified until 1993. Palau officially became independent on October 1, 1994.Get in
US citizens do not require a visa, and nearly all other visitors can receive a free 30-day tourism visa on arrival. For the latest information, contact the Palau Embassy in Washington DC .By planePlane
is the only realistic choice. There is only one airport, Airai (ROR), in Koror. Most visitors arrive on Continental Micronesia's daily flights from Guam (~$600), which has good connections to Japan and the United States. However, if you're already in Asia, the cheapest way in is with Asian Spirit from Manila via Cebu (3x/week) or Davao (1x/week), with advance-booking fares (7days) from US$ 230 for roundtrip. There are also chartered flights direct from Taipei and Japan on a variety of operators.By boat
Possible but not very easy.Get around
Taxi and rented car. Lots of local taxis. If you rent a car, be prepared to drive real slow on some bumpy roads. Cars there are left or right hand drive. Takes a little getting use to if the steering wheel is on the "passenger" side. Also, you will have to drive about one hour north to find a beach dive sight. If you drive south, to Ice Box Park, please note that the facility behind it is the sewage treatment plant. Any other diving will be from a boat, after an hour or more ride and cost around US$150 for a two tank dive. There are no dive spots or beaches on the main island - Koror. The road north was recently paved and is very nice... once you get past the airport.Do
Palau is most famous for scuba diving. One of the most famous dive sites - Blue Corner, with constant sharks and a high current - is located less than 1 hour's boat ride from most resorts. Many live aboards like Ocean Hunter operate out of Palau. There are also tours to WWII battle fields on Palau.
The Blue Corner, German Channel, Ulong Channel and Blue Holes are all amazing dive sites. You can dive the same site again and again and have completely different experiences each time.
Splash, the dive shop attached to the Palau Pacific Resort is recommended. The equipment available for rental is of high quality, and either new or well maintained. The dive masters are also very experienced, responsible and know the dive sites very well. Angelo at Splash is highly recommended as a dive master especially if you have not dived in stronger currents. It should be noted that Splash runs a rather large, wide diveboat, containing 20+ divers.
Sam's Tours is another dive shop in Palau that offers diving, snorkeling, kayaking, fishing and land tours. They have some great guides that provide educational and environmental information about the locales. Sam's Tours uses small, fast narrow boats which carry 4~8 divers.Talk
English and Palauan are the official languages, although some islands also give official status to their own languages.Buy
Palau uses the US dollar
as its currency.Costs
As you might expect from a remote island where tourism is the main industry, prices are comparatively high, and even a low-end daily budget would be around US$100/day.Shopping
are traditional wood carvings depicting Palauan myths and legends.Eat
The Rock Island Cafe in Koror is a great place for a quick bit of American-style food. It is located a little west of the Court House on Koror Island.
Always a good place to go is Kramer's - a bit hard to find for the first time but food is good and the nightlife always interesting. Several places of note in Koror are the Taj, an excellent indian restaurant, Fuji, a reasonably priced psuedo Japanese or Dragon Tai on the way into Koror.Drink
Abai Ice in Koror is a small hut that offers fresh fruit smoothies. Highly recommended.
Many licensed establishments in Palau - from quiet little bars to "japanese" style karaoke bars complete with bar girls. For a decent affordable drink try Sam's dive shop or High Tide behind Neco dive shop. Story board is good but tends to be a hangout for many of the local expats.Sleep
Palau offers a number of guest house
style boutique accommodation. Some are close to or within Koror, some are not. These are available for international bookings via dive shops that offer holiday packages (such as Sam's Tours). Prices range from US$50 a night upward.Mid-range
There are also a number of nice basic hotels available in Palau. Splurge
There are lots of reasonably high end resorts on Palau, most catering for scuba divers. Palau Pacific Resort is a world class resort on the outskirts of Koror. Known locally as PPR, it is very nice (beautiful beach, excellent restaurant, vaulted ceilings) but it is also quite a ways out of Koror (10-15 minute drive). They do run an hourly shuttle into Koror most evenings, or it will set you back about $5 each way for a cab. Stay safe
Palau is quite a safe country to visit. Walking in downtown Koror at night, even past midnight is quite safe. But as with any place in the world today, common sense prevails.Stay healthy
(Crocodylus porosus) thankfully still exist in Palau's mangroves and in the beautiful Rock Islands
and can potentially be found anywhere on the island. Despite their fearsome and, in some areas, very justified reputation, here they rarely grow to the immense size that they do in Australia and New Guinea. There was only one fatal attack by a crocodile in Palau within recorded history and that occured in 1965. The biggest crocodile in Palau's history was 15 feet in length- large, but this is an average size for saltwater crocodiles in most other countries. The rarity of attacks probably stems from the fact that there are no more than 150 adult individuals currently on the island. Snorkeling and scuba diving are very popular in Palau and there has never in recent history been a report of an attack on a tourist. Judging from a recent survey, it appears crocodiles are quite unjustly hated by the locals, in harsh contrast to the worship they are given by the indigenious peoples of Australia, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. The reasons for this are unclear.Bull Sharks
are common in the coastal waters and estuaries, so caution must always be taken while scuba diving or snorkeling
(IPA: pɑˈlaʊ], [pəˈlaʊ), officially the Republic of Palau
, is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, some 500 miles (800 km) east of the Philippines. Having emerged from United Nations trusteeship (administered by the United States) in 1994, it is one of the world's youngest and smallest nations. It is sometimes referred to in English under its native name Belau
Early Palauans may have come from Australia, Polynesia and Asia. Depending on the thread of the family, Palauans may indeed represent many parts of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. However, it is traditionally considered to be Micronesian. According to geneticists, there are two distinctive strains of Melanesian bloodlines:
one is associated with indigenous Australians/Papua New Guineans and the other is known to have originated in Asia. There has not been any link established between the two.
Until recently, Palau was not considered a part of Micronesia. In the European and Australian world Belau/Pelew is better known by the name of "The Black Islands". Vintage maps and village drawings can be found at the Australian library online
, as well as photos of the tattooed and pierced Ibedul of Koror and Ludee.
Carbon dating and recent archeological discoveries have brought new attention to the archipelago. Cemeteries uncovered in islands have shown Palau has the oldest burial ceremony known to Oceania. Prior to this there has been much dispute as to whether Palau was established during 2500 BC or 1000 BC. New studies seem to dispute both of these findings. Moreover, Palau's ancient trading partner, Java, has also come under close scrutiny since Homo floresiensis
Interestingly, Java is where traditional female Palaun money originated. Carrying on the family line, Palauan women have always been embellished with land, titles and money. For thousands of years, Palauans have had a well established matrilineal society.European contact
Historians take much interest in the navigational routes of European explorers. One such mystery has created much speculation as to whether Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobos spotted the islands in 1543. No conclusive evidence exists but there are some who think he could have seen the tip of a southernmost island in the group.
Palau was one of the last of the South Sea islands to be discovered—not only due to a lack of navigation skill but because neighboring islands knew nothing about Melanesia. Palau had limited relations—mainly with Yap and Java.
Had it not have been for ship-wrecked islanders who accidentally took refuge in the Philippines, Europeans likely would not have found a route to Palau until much later. English Captain Henry Wilson also shipwrecked off the island of Ulong in 1783. Wilson dubbed Palau the “Pelew Islands”.Spanish Rule
Like Guam, the Mariana Islands, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands, Palau was part of the Spanish East Indies, and was governed from the Spanish Philippines until the Spanish-American War of 1898.
In 1885, after Germany occupied some of the islands, a dispute was brought to Pope Leo XIII, who made an attempt to legitimize Spanish claim to the islands (but with economic concessions for Britain and Germany). Spain in 1899, after defeat during the Spanish-American War, sold the islands to Germany.Japanese Rule
In 1914 Japan invaded the islands, then formally took over under the Treaty of Versailles after the WWI German defeat. Over three decades the Japanese enforced cultural change. Introduction of an exclusive market economy geared towards Japanese citizens temporarily revoked tribal ownership. Although some reparation was made, defeat did not restore complete order. US intervention only served to widen the legal semantics needed to recover from such an event spanning three different countries with three different tongues.World War II
Peleliu was the scene of a costly battle between American and Japanese forces in 1944, resulting in an Allied victory, though the cost in human terms was high for both sides. After WWII the United Nations played a role and it was decided the US would administer Palau as part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. Eventually, in 1979 Palauans voted against joining the Federated States of Micronesia based on language and cultural differences. After a long period of transition, including the violent deaths of two presidents (Haruo Remeliik in 1985 and Lazarus Salii in 1988), Palau voted to freely associate with the United States in 1994 while opting to retain independence under the Compact of Free Association.
There are still roughly 100 American service members listed as Missing In Action (MIA) in Palau since WWII. Since 1993, a small group of American volunteers called The BentProp Project have searched the waters and jungles of Palau to attempt to locate information that can lead to the identification and recovery of remains of these American MIAs.Government
Politics of Palau takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Palau is both head of state and head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Palau National Congress. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.Foreign relations
Palau gained its independence October 1, 1994 when the Compact of Free Association with the United States came into force. Palau was the last Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands territories to gain its independence. Under the Compact, the U.S. remains responsible for Palau's defense for 50 years.
Palau is a sovereign nation and conducts its own foreign relations. Since independence, Palau has established diplomatic relations with a number of nations, including many of its Pacific neighbors. Palau was admitted to the United Nations on December 15, 1994, and has since joined several other international organizations. In September 2006, Palau hosted the first Taiwan-Pacific Allies Summit, and its President has gone on several official visits to other Pacific countries, including Taiwan.Nuclear Free Constitution
In 1981, Palau voted for the world's first nuclear free constitution which was given up after heavy US pressure for a "Compact of Free Association" a 15 year aid package which swaps US military access for Trident submarines [Women for a nuclear free and independent Pacific
Off Our Backs, Jan 1997 by Connelly, Frances]. One of the notable aspects of the Palaun resistance to nuclear research is the leadership of women activists such as Cita Morei and Isabella Sumang.States
Palau is divided into sixteen states (until 1984 called municipalities):
The uninhabited Rock Islands of Palau have historically been part of the State of Koror.Geography
Palau's most important islands are Angaur, Babeldaob, Koror, and Peleliu. The latter three lie together within the same barrier reef, while Angaur is an Oceanic Island several miles to the South. About two-thirds of the population lives on Koror. The coral atoll of Kayangel is situated north of these islands, while the uninhabited Rock Islands (about 200) are situated to the west of the main island group. A remote group of six islands, known as the Southwest Islands, some 375 miles (600 km) from the main islands, are also part of the country and make up the States of Hatohobei and Sonsorol.Climate
Palau enjoys a tropical climate all year round with an annual mean temperature of 82 °F (27 °C). Rainfall can occur throughout the year, averaging a total of 150 inches (3,800 mm). The average humidity over the course of the year 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 main typhoon zone.Environment
While much of Palau's natural environment remains free of environmental degradation, there are several areas of concern, including illegal fishing with the use of dynamite, inadequate facilities for disposal of solid waste in Koror, and extensive sand and coral dredging in the Palau lagoon. Like the other Pacific island nations, a major environmental threat is global warming and the related rising of sea level. Water coverage of low-lying areas is a threat to coastal vegetation, agriculture, and the purity of the nation's water supply. Palau also has a problem with inadequate water supply and limited agricultural areas to support the size of the population. The nation is also vulnerable to earthquakes, volcanic activity, and tropical storms. Sewage treatment is a problem, along with the handling of toxic waste from fertilizers and biocides.
On 5 November 2005, President of Palau Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr. took the lead on a regional environmental initiative called the Micronesia Challenge, which would conserve 30 percent of near shore coastal waters and 20 percent of forest land by 2020. In addition to Palau, the initiative was joined by the Federated States of Micronesia and Marshall Islands, and the U.S. territories of Guam and Northern Mariana Islands. Together, this combined region represents nearly 5 percent of the marine area of the Pacific Ocean and 7 percent of its coastlines.Economy
The economy consists primarily of tourism, subsistence agriculture, and fishing. Tourist activity focuses on scuba diving and snorkeling in the islands' rich marine environment, including the Floating Garden Islands to the west of Koror and the Rock Islands to the south. 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 the financial year 2000/2001. The population enjoys a per capita income twice that of the Philippines and much of Micronesia. Long-term 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.
In July 2004, Palau Micronesia Air was launched with service from Palau to Yap, Guam, Micronesia, Saipan, Australia, and the Philippines. It was thought of giving Continental Micronesia a run for its money due to the low fares which it offered to its passengers, however it has ceased operations in December of the same year, mainly because the airline began operating at a time where fuel prices were skyrocketing and also because the cost of operation had been much more than anticipated. Palau Micronesia Air has not restarted operations since but has made a codeshare alliance with Asian Spirit, a carrier that operates flights between Palau and the Philippines (Davao,cebu and Manila) and is much more affordable than Continental Micronesia. There are two flight weekly Manila via Cebu to Palau and one flight weekly from Davao. The flight costs $230 from Davao and $280 from Manila with one week advance booking. (Stand May 4. 2007)Demographics
The population of Palau is approximately 19,000, of whom 70% are native Palauans, who are of mixed Melanesian, Micronesian, and Polynesian descent. Filipinos form the second largest ethnic group. Other Asians and Europeans account for the minority groups.
Three quarters of the population are Christians (mainly Catholics and Protestants), while Modekngei (a combination of Christianity, traditional Palauan religion and fortune telling) and the ancient Palauan religion are commonly observed. According to the 2005 census 49.4% of the population are Catholics, 21.3% Protestants, 8.7% Modekngei and 5.3% Seventh-day Adventists.
The official languages of Palau are Palauan and English, except for three states (Sonsorol, Hatohobei and Anguar) where the local language, along with Palauan, is official. In Angaur, Japanese is also an official language.Culture
Libraries and museums
There is a small public library in Koror, with a collection comprising about 17,000 books. The Belau National Museum, established in 1973, is also located in Koror.Transportation
Palau International Airport provides scheduled direct flights to Guam, Taipei and Manila. There are two other airports in the country, both with unpaved runways.
Freight and cruise ships call at Malakal Harbor, on Malakal Island outside Koror.
The country has no railways, and almost half of the roads are unpaved (of the 61 km of highways, only 36 km are paved). Driving is on the right and the speed limit is 40kph (25mph). Taxis are available in Koror. They are not metered and fares are fixed. Only Koror maintains a bus service. Transportation between islands mostly relies on private boats. Gallery
Image:1881_aquaimages.jpg|Divers descending into the main cavern of Blue Hole.
Image:1882_aquaimages.jpg|A Tridacna giant clam.
Image:1888_aquaimages.jpg|Divers descending next to the mast of the Japanese tanker Iro.
Image:1885_aquaimages.jpg|An Anenomefish on the wreck of the Japanese tanker Iro.
Image:1889_aquaimages.jpg|Diver and large Moon jellyfish, Jellyfish Lake.
Image:1890_aquaimages.jpg|Diver and jellyfish, Jellyfish Lake.
Image:1891_aquaimages.jpg|Jellyfish in Jellyfish Lake.
Image:1892_aquaimages.jpg|Diver and Nautilus, German Channel.
Image:1893_aquaimages.jpg|Nudibranch on sea fan.
Image:1897_aquaimages.jpg|Soft corals growing on vertical wall.
Image:1898_aquaimages.jpg|Closeup of soft coral.
Image:1901_aquaimages.jpg|Starfish on soft coral.
Image:1903_aquaimages.jpg|Diver and large table coral.
Image:1909_aquaimages.jpg|Divers on a vertical wall, Peleliu Island.
Image:1907_aquaimages.jpg|One of the many Rock Islands.
Image:1908_aquaimages.jpg|Channel between the Rock Islands.
Dive sites of PalauForeign relations of PalauList of PalauansList of radio stations in PalauMilitary of PalauPalau at the 2004 Summer OlympicsPalau at the Summer OlympicsPublic holidays in PalauScouting in Palau Searching for American WWII MIAs in PalauMicronesia challengeExternal links
Mybelau.com - A place for palauansOfficial Site of the Republic of PalauPalau National Congress - Olbiil Era Kelulau, SenateElizabeth Bassett's Palau websiteMy Micronesia.com’s Palau sectionOlekoi PalauPalauan Embassy to the United StatesPalauan Pride.comLonely Planet WorldGuide ProfileWWFM 89.5 Radio PalauEast Japanese Beads as Palau HeirloomsPalau photographsTravel Notes - Runoko Rashidi in the Republic of PalauPalau Postcards From the FieldPalauan Recording Studio in Honolulu, HIInfo on visiting PalauColor Coins of Palau