Palau (Belau), republic in the west of the Pacific Ocean, consisting of around 350 Palau Islands (eleven of which are inhabited), which form the westernmost group of the Carolines. Almost all of them lie within a 110 km long barrier reef that encloses a lagoon of 1,267 km 2 in area. They are partly of volcanic origin, partly coral islands; Mangrove is widespread on the coasts, and grasslands or rainforest in the interior.
The population consists mainly of Micronesians, 10% are Filipinos. Agriculture and fishing are self-sufficient. Tourism is an important source of income.
History: The archipelago, discovered in 1543, was initially a Spanish colony, then a German colony from 1899–1919, then a Japanese League of Nations mandate and, from 1947, a trust territory in the USA. In 1994 Palau became independent.
According to Countryaah, the capital of Palau is Melekeok. 5,000 years ago, sailors from Taiwan and China populated the islands of Micronesia. They lived in sharply stratified societies where gender, age and fighting ability determined the individual’s social position and material wealth. The colonization of the islands in the 19th century destroyed many of the small communities, but failed to completely crush the former civilization.
In 1899 Germany bought the islands of Spain for 25 million pesetas and in 1914 they were taken over by the Japanese. During World War II, Japan established its largest naval base on Palau, and at the same time, the United States recognized that the islands were of strategic importance for the conquest of the Philippines. The islands were therefore subject to fierce fighting.
By the end of World War II, the native population had been reduced from 45,000 to 6,000. The United States subjugated Micronesia as a protectorate, used it for nuclear testing and reinforced its economic dependence. The process of independence was therefore only initiated in the late 1970’s.
- Abbreviationfinder: What does PLW stand for in geography? Here, this 3 letter acronym refers to the country of Palau.
In 1978, the archipelago detached itself from the rest of Micronesia, and in January 1979 a constitutional assembly drafted a constitution for autonomy. The Constitution explicitly prohibited the storage of nuclear weapons or nuclear waste in the country. It also ruled that foreigners could not own land and established a 200-mile sea-level zone – in accordance with UN resolutions, but to the great regret of the United States.
The constitution was signed by 35 of the 38 members of the Constitutional Assembly, but the United States put pressure on the local government to agree to the creation of a large military base on Palau. Following a third referendum in July 1980, the original text of the Constitution was adopted with 78% of the vote.
Spanish sailors discovered the archipelago in 1543, which officially remained in Spanish possession for more than 350 years. It became a German colony in 1899, occupied by Japanese troops in 1914 and was a Japanese League of Nations mandate from 1919/20. Captured by American troops in the summer of 1944, the islands became part of the American “Trustee Territory of the Pacific Islands” in 1947. In 1981 the archipelago received internal autonomy as the “Republic of Palau” under the US trust administration. After the population had repeatedly rejected the free association with the USA, the “Compact of Free Association” was adopted on November 9, 1993. On October 1, 1994, Palau gained its independence (at the same time the association came into force); this ended the last trust administration on behalf of the UN. – President of the Republic since January 17, 2013 T. Remengesau.
Rock Islands Southern Lagoon (World Heritage)
The remains of an unknown civilization can be found on the karstified limestone islands. The lagoon is home to an extremely diverse range of marine fauna.
Rock Islands Southern Lagoon: Facts
|Official title:||Southern Lagoon of the Rock Islands|
|Cultural and natural monument:||445 uninhabited, green overgrown islands of volcanic origin of the island republic of Palau in the western Pacific with an area of 1,000 km²; so-called Chelbacheb Islands with mushroom-shaped limestone tops, impressive karst weathering and cave formations in turquoise lagoons, surrounded by coral reefs with 385 species; high diversity of plants, birds and marine animals such as dugongs and 13 species of sharks, a total of 1,350 species of fish with many endemic species; the world’s highest concentration of self-contained marine lakes (52 lakes) with special jellyfish species; Remains of stone settlements, tombs and stone art from the last 3,000 years (settlements abandoned in the 17th and 18th centuries)|
|Continent:||Australia and Oceania|
|Location:||Chelbacheb Islands, off the island of Koror in the Republic of Palau|
|Meaning:||Exceptionally high biological and marine diversity of a pristine ecosystem; outstanding beauty of dome-shaped cave formations in turquoise lagoons with coral reefs; impressive traces of a past human settlement|