Due north of Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory, close to the Philippines and Indonesia. More than 300 islands and islets make up this republic with a compact of free association with the USA.

The estimated 1500 species of tropical fish make Palau a diver’s paradise Many of islands are not inhabited and of the 12,000 population, 7,500 live on Koror. Palauans are Micronesians and a number of dialects and languages are spoken within the group. English is widely used and some older folk can speak Japanese.

They have been ruled by the Spanish, Germans, Japanese and Americans. After WW1, the Japanese spent much time and money developing the islands adding sewerage, electricity and roads. After 1935 the islands were fortified and were used as bases during WW2 by the Japanese. The Americans took over after Japanese surrender and Palau became part of the US Territory of the Pacific Islands.

In 1978, 3 separate states emerged – Palau, The Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia. Agreements with Palau were more protracted as they insisted in the area being Nuclear-free which is at odds

with American policy. During the stalemate in negotiations, Palau’s economy almost collapsed, the first President of Palau was murdered and in 1988, President Salii apparently committed suicide.