Palau – Island State The Republic of Palau


The island state of Palau is not well known to Russian tourists, except perhaps the most active divers, and yet, the beautiful green islands in the warm azure waters of the ocean, beautiful beaches, friendly people, rich underwater life and remoteness from the bustle of civilization can make an unforgettable impression of a vacation in Palau.

Geography of Palau

Map of Palau, location of Palau on the world map

Palau (in full “Republic of Palau”, Beluu er a Belau ) is a borderless country in the Pacific Ocean, 500 km east of the Philippines and occupying part of the Western Caroline Islands in Micronesia. It lies in the Philippine Sea. Palau consists of the high islands of Babeltuap (Babeldaob), Koror, Peleliu, and Angaur, the low coral atolls of Cayangel, Ngeruangel, and the limestone Rock Islands, of which there are over two hundred in total. Almost all of the islands in the group are in a ring of separate barrier coral reefs. Mount Ngerchulchus on Babeltuap Island is Palau’s highest point, only 215 meters above sea level. The country has a total land area of 458 square kilometers (half the size of Moscow), with Babeltuap Island comprising 367 square kilometers.

Politically Palau is an independent constitutional republic freely associated with the United States. The head of the republic is a president elected by popular vote.

Since October 7, 2006 Palau’s capital is Ngerulmud, in the State of Melekeok, which was moved from Koror, on the island of the same name, Palau’s largest city.

Administratively, Palau is divided into 16 states, roughly overlapping geographically with the main island groups.

Palau Climate

Palau’s climate is equatorial, and it’s warm and humid all year round.

Water temperatures are constant and comfortable.

Palau’s Population

Children of Palau

Palau’s population is just over 20,000 people, mainly Belauans (Palauans), Polynesians, and Melanesians. The official languages are English and Palau (Palauan), a language in the Western Malayo-Polynesian group of Austronesian languages. Schools teach both languages, so most residents are bilingual from an early age. Other languages include the local Sonsorales, Angaur, and Tobi, as well as Japanese, which has been heavily planted since the takeover of the islands by the Japanese in 1914. Most believers are Christians (there are almost twice as many Catholics as Protestants). Many locals also practice “modeknegi,” a local traditional religion based on belief in spirits.

Diving in Palau

Palau's Underwater World: the Manta

The islands’ main attractions are military relics and underwater attractions. If you’re an energetic scuba diver, you’ll find an underwater wonderland in Palau. The islands of Palau are widely known mainly for the exceptional richness and diversity of the underwater world. There are 1,500 species of fish, 5 species of turtles, and 700 species of coral and anemones, there are white tip, black tip, gray reef, bull shark, leopard shark and hammerhead shark, manta rays, and the rare mandarin fish. What’s more, Palau is one of the last places in the world where colonies of the legendary and now nearly extinct dugong remain. No wonder the archipelago is one of the world’s most popular dive destinations.

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Features of Palau

The national currency is the U.S. dollar. Banks operate in all major tourist areas, the use of credit cards and checks is widespread and does not cause any problems (it is preferable to have cash when traveling to remote islands).

Taxes: There is a Departure Tax of $20 and a Resort Fee of $15 at the time of entry. Visitor Fee $50 (See Palau Visa Details).

During the last week of April and first week of May, the Palau Sporting Association holds its annual Fishing Derby, attracting anglers from around the world with great catches and a chance to enjoy one of the most exotic locales in the world.

Electricity in the household network: single-phase AC voltage of 115/230 V, 60 Hz. Australian outlet (type I).

Internet and telecommunications: To make an international telephone call from Palau you buy a calling card (Debusch International), which you can buy from over 100 retail outlets.

You can access the Internet via Wi-Fi at Palau National Telecommunications Corporation (PNCC) outlets and commercial Internet cafes. You can buy wireless or dial-up modem cards at many stores.

The PNCC covers the entire country with a GSM-900 cellular network. You can buy SIM cards and payment cards at PNCC outlets.

Palau – a tropical archipelago of enchanted islands

800 kilometers east of the Philippines and 900 kilometers north of Indonesia is the beautiful Palau Archipelago. It is located in the waters of the Philippine Sea in the western Pacific. Palau is a dream destination for tourists (especially divers) and a tropical paradise with hundreds of islands, lagoons with crystal clear waters and a rich underwater world.

Palau Islands

General Information

Palau, or more precisely the Republic of Palau is an island nation of 328 islands with a total land area of 458 km2 . According to other data, there are 340 islands and therefore an area of 466km2 . The difference in numbers is due to the methods of calculation. That is, some people consider a small rock formation as an island (such as in the photo below), others do not.

Palau Archipelago

A lonely islet in the archipelago.

Or, for example, an island separated by a small and shallow sea strait, count as one or two.

The islands of Palau are diverse, there are high (like Babeltuap Island) and low, almost at sea level (Kayangel), limestone, coral and volcanic.

It is noteworthy that only 8 islands are inhabited by man. All the rest are a realm of nature, stunning landscapes, blue lagoons and an incredible atmosphere of amazing paradise islands of the Pacific Ocean.

Palau has close ties with the United States. In fact, the republic is associated with the United States, although territorially it belongs to Micronesia. The economy consists mainly of tourism, subsistence agriculture and fishery. The official monetary unit is the U.S. dollar.

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Palau's Fish Farm

One of the fish farms

Palau Climate

The climate on the islands is tropical, with the classic wet and dry seasons, but they have little or no significant and drastic differences. The wet season is from May to November, while the dry season is from December to April.

The average annual temperature in the archipelago is about +28 o C. And its seasonal fluctuations are very small. We can firmly say that it is summer all year round.

The islands are located just 7.5 degrees north of the equator. They are characterized by high humidity of over 80%. Annual rainfall reaches 4000 mm. and is relatively evenly distributed through all months, ranging from 210 mm in May and reaching a maximum of 400-450 mm in June-July.

Palau Archipelago

Palau’s flora and fauna

Vegetation, which covers most islands in abundance, includes large areas of mangrove swamps, savannah, and, at higher elevations, tropical forest. Cultivated plants include taro, cassava, sweet potatoes, coconut palms, bananas, a variety of citrus fruits, and other tropical exotic fruits.

The marine life is extremely diverse. In the surrounding waters there are more than 1,500 species of beautiful tropical fish and about 700 varieties of corals and anemones. In addition, sea turtles, sea cows, sharks and moray eels live in the coastal waters.

Palau Underwater World

Underwater world of the archipelago

Many varieties of other living creatures live on the islands of the archipelago. Among them, some are endemic.

You can find the saltwater crocodile in Palau. They usually live in numerous mangroves. This type of reptile is considered extremely dangerous, but the islands have only one recorded tragic case of a crocodile attacking a man. This was back in the 1960s. The largest crocodile found here was 4.5 meters long.

A brief digression into Palau’s history

According to scientists the archipelago was settled about 4-5 thousand years ago, presumably by settlers from the Philippines or Indonesia.

It is believed that the first European arrived here (in 1543), Spanish explorer Ruy Lopez de Villalobos. But there is no reliable data on this.

In 1686, Spain declared Palau as its own archipelago, but did nothing to colonize it. The Spanish were so impressed by the beauty of the islands scattered in the equatorial Pacific that they called them the Enchanted Islands (Spanish: Islas Encantadas).

The Enchanted Islands of Palau

Palau – the Enchanted Islands

It’s been 240 years since Europeans discovered the islands, and it wasn’t until 1783 that links were established between Europe and Palau. Perhaps this would not have happened if the British ship Antelope, commanded by Captain Henry Wilson, had not been wrecked near Koror Island that year.

As it turned out, the local population was quite welcoming. The chief of the island assisted in rebuilding the ship and sent his son to study in London. But, unfortunately, some time after his arrival in England, he fell ill and died.

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Despite this, relations between the natives and the English developed positively. Trade and economic ties were established. England became a major partner in Palau until the Spanish invasion in the early 19th century. Pope Leo 13 recognized Spanish rights to Palau in 1885 and sent missionaries there.

In 1899, the archipelago was sold to Germany, which quickly developed the islands and began to exploit both the natural and human potential of the islands.

A striking example of Germany’s use of the resources of other countries, sometimes lying many thousands of kilometers away, is the ghost town of Kolmanskop in Namibia.

The islanders had lived isolated for a long time, and were unprepared for overseas diseases. As a result, many Aborigines died from diseases brought in from outside.

Islands during the World Wars

Both World Wars unfortunately reached the islands. At the beginning of WWI, the Japanese occupied the archipelago, and even received rights to administer it from the League of Nations (then an international community roughly like the modern UN) in 1920. In World War II, the Americans wrested the islands from Japan and set up their military bases there.

Battle of Palau

This is how man cheerfully and cheerfully destroys not only his own kind, but everything around him.

In fact, Palau is still under U.S. protectorate to this day. Formally, since October 1, 1994, the country is independent, but at a referendum in 1993, residents supported the status of “free association” with the United States.

Palau’s Population and Religion

The total population is about 21,500.

Ethnic composition

(figures may vary within statistical error.)

  • Palauan Indigenous people – 73%.
  • Filipinos – 16%
  • Chinese – 1.5%
  • Vietnamese – 1.5%
  • Other Asian – 3.5%
  • Micronesians 2.5%
  • Europeans – about 1%
  • All other percentages are distributed among other nationalities.

The official languages are Palau (the local language), spoken by more than 60% of the population, and English. Filipino and Chinese are also spoken to a small extent.

Palau is not a wild country. The literacy rate is about 92%, and the Palauan national language and English are compulsory in school.

Palau’s most populous islands are Angaur, Babeltuap, Koror, and Peleliu. The latter three lie together in the same barrier reef, while Angaur is an ocean island a few kilometers to the south. About 70% of the population lives on Koror Island, although Babeltuap is the largest island in the archipelago. The area of Babeltuap Island is 331 km 2, which is 70% of the total territory of the Republic, and about 30% of the total population lives there. It is the second largest island in Micronesia (after Guam) and one of the most undeveloped islands in the Pacific.

Koror City on the Island of the Same Name

Koror, the largest city in Palau

Religious Composition

  • Catholics – 50%
  • Protestants – 23%
  • Modekntgei Indigenous Religious Adherents – 8.7%
  • Seventh-day Adventists-5.3%
  • Other religious movements account for the remaining percentage
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The Republic is divided into 16 states. Ngerulmud in the state of Melekeok has been the state capital since 2006. Before 2006, the capital was Koror City, the largest city in the archipelago on Koror Island. But Ngerulmud cannot be called a city, it is only a complex of government buildings, the main one being the Capitol, very similar to Washington’s.

The Capitol of Palau

The Capitol in Palau

Tourism and attractions in Palau

Until recently, the amazing islands of Palau were overlooked by the tourist industry and not attacked by tourists. But now hotels are being built there, and all the necessary infrastructure is being developed.

Beaches Palau Water Biking

Diving in Palau

The main attraction of the archipelago is nature, beaches, and an insanely beautiful underwater world. Not without reason, it is among the most popular places for diving. There are a lot of diving centers, offering training and equipment, and various options for diving.

To describe all the underwater beauty makes no sense, it should be seen, well, at least in pictures (preferably in person).

Palau Diving

Diving in Palau

Besides the natural underwater attractions in the surrounding waters you can see the remains of World War II aircraft and sunken ships.

Aircraft Wrecks off the Coast of Palau

Aircraft Wrecks off Palau

Chandelier Cave deserves special attention. This is a complex of grottoes, which is a system of five separate connecting caves, four of which are filled with water and accessible to divers. The maximum depth is about 10 meters. The total length of the caves is about 130 meters.

Chandelier Cave. Palau Chandelier Cave Schematic

Other sights in Palau

Jellyfish Lake

Jellyfish Lake is probably the most famous landmark in Palau. Millions of human-safe jellyfish live in this lake. It is the will of nature that there are no natural enemies for jellyfish, so their population is variously estimated to be between 2 and 15 million.

Jellyfish Lake, Palau

Jellyfish Lake

Rock Islands

The Rock Islands are an array of limestone and coral islands about 47 km2 in area and up to 207 m high, about 10 km southwest of Koror Island. The Rock Islands have been a World Heritage Site since 2012. They are sparsely populated and are famous for their beaches, blue lagoons and the distinctive umbrella shapes of many of the islands.

Palau Rock Islands

Rock Islands

Palau Rock Islands

Ngardmau Falls.

At the northern end of Babeltuap Island is Ngardmau Waterfalls. It is the highest waterfall in Palau and Micronesia. Its height is 30 meters and width is 37 meters. The cost of a visit is $5 per person.

Ngardmau Falls

Ngardmau Waterfalls

Milky Way Lagoon

The water in the lagoon has an amazing blue-white color that is due to the presence of lime sediments or, simply put, white clay.

Milky Way Lagoon is a natural spa resort in Palau. Locals and tourists alike enjoy rubbing their bodies with the white substance lifted from the bottom. The guides claim that the clay is extremely beneficial and can give you a youthful appearance. All together they say that this clay makes a person younger by ten years.

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In addition to the natural spa, Milky Way Lagoon also offers stunning views of the surrounding natural beauty. It is the perfect place for a peaceful and relaxing vacation.

A visit to the Milky Way Lagoon is free. Only rented transportation is chargeable.

Milky Way Lagoon This is what tourists usually look like at Milky Way Lagoon

It’s not just in tropical latitudes that there are interesting spa resorts. Consider the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. There you can relax in a geothermal spring, cover your body with silica deposits as white as sour cream, and at the same time admire mountain peaks covered with snow caps.

Transportation on the Islands

The archipelago has three airports. Palau International Airport on Babeltuap Island and 2 small airstrips on Angaur and Peleliu Islands.

Once a week, a plane flies to Yap Island, famous for its giant stone money. So if you’re vacationing in Palau, be sure to stop by.

Palau International Airport has direct scheduled flights to Guam, Manila, Seoul, and Taipei and, since December 2010, Tokyo as well. There are also charter flights to Hong Kong and Macau.

The entire archipelago has only 61 kilometers of roads, 36 of which are paved. The islands of Babeltuap, Koror, Malakal and district Meings are connected by bridges.

Bridges in the Palau Islands

Bridges between the islands

The predominant means of travel in Palau are boats and motor boats. Hotels usually have their own buses to transport tourists. Cabs are also available, but there are no fixed prices, and you must negotiate everything on the spot.

Interesting Facts

  1. The coastline of the islands is 1,519 kilometers long
  2. In Palau at the moment a little more than 80 hotels, and only 2 of them have 5 stars and can satisfy the most demanding traveler. It offers its own landscaped beaches, gardens, parks, swimming pools in a large area, and of course, full service. These are not even hotels, but rather the entire tourist complexes Palau Pacific Resort and Palau Royal Resort

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