Palau is surrounded by the pristine waters of the Western Pacific. A visit combines the spirit and culture of the islands with tranquil ambience and beauty; a choice destination for scuba divers and snorkelers. Palau consists of approximately 340 islands, most of them tiny, about 500 mi/800 km east of the Philippines. Fewer than a dozen of the islands are inhabited. English is spoken widely, and the U.S. dollar is the official currency. The adaptable islanders have absorbed Japanese and American ways, while maintaining a distinctive culture of their own.

Palau has such a tremendous variety of sealife that its waters have been called God’s Aquarium. Palau (pronounced beh-LAU) is oneromantic palau, micronesian, vacation, honeymoon, destination wedding, getaway, holiday, scuba diving of the world’s finset diving destinations. There are also gorgeous mountains, caves, waterfalls, rocky coastlines, inviting beaches and lush, tropical rain forests. There are few sights as curious as the Rock Islands-verdant green, mushroom-shaped islands that appear to float above the turquoise lagoon. The beautiful pictures of Palau were provided by Palau Pacific Resort.

After World War II, Palau became part of the U.S.-administered Trust Territory of the United Nations. The island finally gained its independence in 1994, when voters approved a Compact for Free Association with the U.S. Voters had previously rejected the compact seven times because of two controversial clauses: one gave the U.S. military access to a third of the country’s territory, and another overturned the country’s constitutional ban on toxic and radioactive materials (including nuclear weapons). The compact was only passed after the number of voters required
to approve the agreement was lowered from 75% to a simple majority.

Palau’s corner of the Pacific was originally settled by Southeast Asians from the Malay Peninsula around 1500 BC. Some 3,000 years later, Europeans, including the English and Spanish, began to arrive. A son of the chief of Palau was actually taken back to Britain by sailors from the East India Company ship Antelope. The chief’s son was celebrated in London as Prince Lee Boo from the Pelew Islands. Palau remained under Spanish rule until Germany purchased them following the Spanish-American War. The Japanese, as allies of the governments in London and Paris, took the archipelago from Berlin at the beginning of World War I, transforming many of the islands into bustling centers of the Japanese economy. Palauans did not share in the new economy and became a minority group in their own islands.

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