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.
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.