Archaeological finds indicate that the islands of
what is now the Republic of Palau are already settled in
the 1st millennium BC. there. The first European to see
the islands was the Spaniard Ruy L¨®pez de Villalobos in
the first half of the 16th century.
In the course of the 19th century, trade relations
developed between Europe and the islands. The indigenous
population was considerably decimated by introduced
diseases until the end of the 19th century.
In 1874 the islands were annexed to Spain. In 1899
the Carolines (now Palau and Federated States of
Micronesia) and the islands of the Mariana Islands in
the northeast were sold from Spain to the German Empire
for a total of about 18 million gold marks.
Under the German colonial empire, the exploitation of
phosphate deposits on the island of Angaur (as a
valuable basis for fertilizers) began. Coconut palms
have been grown in plantations on several islands to
The two world wars
When the First World War broke out, the islands were
occupied by Japanese troops in 1914. In addition to the
economic exploitation of the islands, Japan established
military bases. In 1919 the islands became a trustee
territory of the League of Nations under Japanese
According to AbbreviationFinder,
the Carolines, as strategically important islands in
the South Pacific, were the scene of fierce battles
between Japanese and American troops in World War II. In
1944, Japan had to withdraw from the islands. After the
end of the war, the islands of what is now the Republic
of Palau were placed under US administration as a trust
area of the UN, the successor organization of the
League of Nations, (together with the rest of the
Carolines and the Mariana Islands).
In 1978, the Caroline Islands of Pohnpei, Kosrae, Yap
and Tuk (Chuuk) merged to form the Federated States of
Micronesia. The islands of what is now the Republic of
Palau refused to become another affiliated state. The
Republic of Palau received internal autonomy three years
later, but remained closely tied to the United States
through a series of treaties.
Deterred by the US nuclear weapons tests in the
Marshall Islands, voices have been voiced since the
1960s that Palau wanted to declare a nuclear-free zone.
This was also recorded in the constitution. As a result,
a referendum on free association with the USA, which
insisted on the possibility of stationing nuclear-armed
ships, failed in February 1993. Nevertheless, in October
1994, pressure from the American leadership led to a
free association agreement between the Republic of Palau
and the United States, which finally released the
country from the UN trust administration. The passage
over Palau as a nuclear weapons-free zone was deleted
from the constitution, the United States remained
responsible for the defense and foreign policy of the
republic. In return, the United States committed to
invest around $ 480 million in the islands economy over
the next 15 years. In December 1994, Palau was admitted
to the United Nations.
In November 1996 Kuniwo Nakamura was confirmed as
head of state and government of Palau (since 1993). He
sought foreign investors to expand the tourism industry,
which is an important source of foreign currency for the
highly indebted country. In January 2001, Thomas
Remengesau became the new head of state and government
of the Republic of Palau. Like his predecessor, he
strove for ecologically compatible tourism. Together
with Japan and the USA, the "Palau International Coral
Reef Center" was completed in 2001, which deals with
research on the conservation of the oceans and is also
used for tourism.
In October 2006, the government moved the capital
from Koror to Melekeok, which was previously a village
with less than 400 residents. The move is intended to
promote the economy of the largest but hardly populated
island of Babelthuap.
In January 2009, Johnson Toribiong became the new
head of state and government. Thomas Remengesau has been
head of state again since January 2013.