Republic of Palau
|Flag||Coat of Arms|
|Language||[[English, Palauan]] (official)|
|Area||177 sq. mi.|
|GDP 2008||$164 million|
|GDP per capita||$8,100|
|Currency||United States dollar|
Palau is a nation composed of about 200 islands located in the western Pacific Ocean, 528 mi (650 km) southeast of the Philippines. Only eight of the islands are permanently inhabited. They vary geologically from the high mountainous largest island, Babelthuap, to low, coral islands usually fringed by large barrier reefs.
About 70% of the population lives in the city of Koror.
The islands of Palau were discovered by European sailors as early as the 16th century as part of a larger group of islands now know as the Carolinian archipelago.
Spanish sovereignty was established in 1885.
After losing the Spanish-American War in 1898, Palau, was sold to Germany the following year along with the other islands in the chain.
In 1914 during World War I, Palau was taken over by the Japanese. It remained in Japanese control until it was captured and occupied by the United States in 1944 following Japan's loss during the battle of Peleliu in World War II.
In 1947 Palau became a UN Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands and was placed under the protection of the U.S.
Palau adopted its constitution in 1980 and became a self-governing republic in 1981.
On October 1st, 1994 Palau gained its independence and currently enjoys a Compact of Free Association with the United States - under the terms of which the United States is responsible for Palau's defense.
In 2005, Palau was given $12.8 million in foreign aid from the US
Facts and Figures
Size: land area 177 sq mi(458 sq km) - roughly 2.5 times the size of Washington D.C.
Population: 20,842 (July 2007 est.)
Currency: US Dollar
Palau during World War 2
By 1944 Palau had lost all strategic significance both to the U.S. and to the Japanese. Admiral Chester Nimitz made the decision not to bypass the scheduled invasion of Palau over senior staff recommendations. Denying the Japanese the use of Palau's tiny airfield so that they could not threaten General Douglas MacArthur's upcoming Phillipine campaign was offered as a reason not to cancel the invasion. The codename for the battle was Operation Stalemate.
Three days prior to the ground invasion, beginning on September 12th, 1944 United States battleships Pennsylvania, Maryland, Mississippi, Tennessee, Idaho; heavy cruisers Columbus, Indianapolis, Louisville, Minneapolis, and Portland; light cruisers Cleveland, Denver and Honolulu bombard the island of Peleliu with several thousand pounds of naval ordinace. This lasts for two days until Admiral Oldendorph declares that he has run out of targets and ceases the bombing of the island a day earlier then planned. Most of the naval fleet was then reassigned to the Philippine invasion and departed the area. As a result, several targets were missed and only a handful of the 11,000 Japanese soldiers defending the island were killed during the initial bombing.
The ground invasion began on Peleliu, at approximately 8:00 am on September 15th, 1944. It was mostly an infantry battle utilizing forces from the First, Fifth, and Seventh Marine Divisions. After some initial shelling and strafe bombing by aircraft, US Amphibious Assault Vehicles or amtracs approach the reef, twenty six take direct hits in first 10 minutes, sixty are damaged or destroyed in first hour and forty minutes. 6,000 Marines are on the beach by 11:30 a.m. unable to dig into the hard coral on the beach, they suffered heavy casualties inflicted by Japanese infantry fighting from the protection of caves. No drinkable water on the beach and temperatures over 100 F on the day of the invasion only added to the misery - it resulted in the highest D-day casualties of the war for the U.S. except for Battle of Tarawa.
Japanese units with orders to inflict as many casualties as possible make it difficult to re-take the island. Several bloody battles ensue over over the next several weeks of the campaign.
The battle for Peleliu lasted until October 12th, 1944 at noon, when U.S. Pacific Command declared the assault phase of the battle over, ordering the 81st Army Division to take over security for the area from the 1st Marine Division and begin mop-up and occupation operations.
Many of the remnants of World War 2 in the form of destroyed tanks, hidden bunkers and sunken ships still remain in and around the islands of Palau. The sunken Japanese shipwrecks which are now home to marine life, are protected by the government of Palau and are a part of the natural underwater ecosystem. The wreckage is also a hotspot for diving enthusiasts so they can view it up close and personal.
In June 2009, the government of Palau agreed to accept 17 detainees from Guantanamo Bay, one of the first steps in the Obama administration's plan to close down that center. The detainees were Chinese Uighurs.
- http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107866.html Infoplease.com - Palau:History, Geography, Government and Culture
- http://www.britannica.com/eb/topic-129514/Compact-of-Free-Association Compact of Free Association (Oceanic-United States relations)
- Peleliu: Tragic Triumph: The Untold Story of the Pacific War’s Forgotten Battle, Bill D. Ross
- http://home.sprynet.com/~kier/peleliu.htm#Timeline Timeline of the Battle for Peleliu
- http://palaudive.com/Wrecks.htm Dive Palau