Palau is an island country located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is geographically part of the larger island group of Micronesia. The country's population of around 21,000 is spread across 250 islands forming the western chain of the Caroline Islands. The most populous island is Koror. The islands share maritime boundaries with Indonesia, Philippines and the Federated States of Micronesia. The capital Ngerulmud is located in Melekeok State on the nearby island of Babeldaob.
Palau was originally settled between the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC, most likely from the Philippines or Indonesia.
The islands sustained a population of short-statured Negrito or Pygmy people until the 12th century, when they were replaced.The modern population, judging by its language, may have come from the Sunda Islands.
Sonsorol, part of the Southwest Islands, an island chain approximately 600 kilometres (370 mi) from the main island chain of Palau, was sighted by Europeans as early as 1522, when the Trinidad, the flagship of Ferdinand Magellan's voyage of circumnavigation, sighted two small islands around the 5th parallel north, naming them "San Juan".
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, relying heavily on US financial assistance. Business and tourist arrivals numbered some 50,000 in financial year 2000/2001. The population enjoys a per capita income twice that of Micronesia as a whole. 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.
The German and Japanese occupations of Palau both subsidized missionaries to follow the Spanish. Three quarters of the population are Christians (mainly Roman Catholics and Protestants), while Modekngei (a combination of Christianity, traditional Palauan religion and fortune telling) and the ancient Palauan religion are commonly observed. Japanese rule brought Mahayana Buddhism and Shinto to Palau, which were the majority religions among Japanese settlers. However, following Japan's World War II defeat, the remaining Japanese largely converted to Christianity, while the remainder continued to observe Buddhism, but stopped practicing Shinto rites.
Palau Tourist Attractions