Palau History

Palau History

European discovery

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.

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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 produce copra.

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 administration.

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).

Palau’s independence

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.

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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.

Palau President