Welcome to our new section, “10 interesting facts”. With this series of posts, we want to share with you diverse facts about the destinations we have visited that we consider particularly interesting for multiple reasons. We include information of all types: historical facts, records, traditions, cultural singularities, etc.
Since we have recently been telling you about our adventures in Palau, we have decided to start with this country. We hope you enjoy it!
- Palau was part of the Spanish Empire. The islands of Palau were part of the Captaincy General of the Philippines of the Spanish Empire, until they were sold in 1899 to the German Empire after losing the Spanish-American war in 1898.
- It is the only country where Japanese is the official language de jure (by law). Palau was also part of the Japanese Empire, which left a strong Japanese influence in the country. Japanese is currently an official language by law in the state of Angaur, in southern Palau. Although obviously it is also the language of Japan, in this case it is de facto (i.e., without official recognition by law), since this is not specified in the Constitution of Japan.
- It is one of only three countries whose flag is a circle on a flat background. The other two are Japan and Bangladesh. The flag of Palau is a yellow disc on a blue background. The disc represents the moon, and the blue background the ocean. In traditional Palauan culture, a full moon indicates the best time for human activity, and is a symbol of peace and tranquility.
- The native name of the country, Belau, comes from the Palauan word beluu (“village”). From it derives the Spanish name, Palaos. Later, this was adopted into German as Palau, which was borrowed into English.
- Palau does not have its own army. The United States is responsible for the defense of the country, as stated in the Compact of Free Association that describes the relationship between the two countries. However, its citizens can enlist in the American Army.
- It was the theater of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. It was the Battle of Peleliu, which took place at the end of 1944 and lasted more than 2 months. Marines and American soldiers fought for the control of the island against the Japanese. There were a total of more than 20,000 killed or wounded, including 40% of the total American forces and almost 100% of the Japanese.
- The first marine shark sanctuary was established in Palau. All activities related to commercial shark fishing are forbidden in its waters. Subsequently, more sanctuaries have been established at the Maldives, Honduras, the Bahamas and Tokelau.
- It is one of the most recently established sovereign states. Palau gained its independence in 1994, after being administered by the United States for several decades after World War II.
- Its capital, Ngerulmud, is the smallest capital city in the world. Koror ceased to be the capital of the country in 2006, when it was replaced by Ngerulmud, a settlement in the state of Melekeok where only the seats of the legislative, executive and judicial powers are located.
- In Palau there is a marine lake with millions of harmless jellyfish. It is a lagoon located in one of its Rock Islands, connected to the sea by small tunnels in the rocks of the island. Millions of jellyfish of two types live in the lagoon: moon jellyfish, and golden jellyfish (the majority). These have evolved until losing almost completely stinging tentacles, making it possible to swim surrounded by jellyfish.
If you want to know more about Palau, have a look at the travel log for our trip around these tropical islands.
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