The History Of Palau

Mystery. That one word describes the history of the Palau. Not even the people of the Palau Republic know the exact details of their people’s history.

A chain of 500 islands makes of the Republic of Palau. It is part of the Micronesia region. There are two things that the island is known for. Most notably, the island is known for its scenic location. There are very few places on the Earth as beautiful as Palau.

The other thing the island is known for is its World War II museum. During the end of the war, some of the worst battles between the Allied Forces and Japan were fought on the Palau islands. Signs of these battles can be found around the island if you look hard, but most visitors would never be able to tell the dark history of the island.

Palau history

What was supposed to be a two-day battle for the island, ended up being a two-month set of battles. For such a small island, thousands of lives from both sides of the war were lost here.

As far as earlier history, most of what we know is thanks to science. Based on archaeological surveys of the island, most experts believe there have been people living on the island for 4000 to 4500 years. They participated in trade in the area, joining in with the extensive Malay trade network.

DNA testing performed on modern people from the island suggests that the people there today are decedents of the Malay. That could mean that the island was settled by Malay at some early point of history. But the island chain had developed a culture of its own, separate from that of the Malay peoples.

The earliest notable contact with the island happened when an English Captain, Henry Wilson, crashed his ship on one of the islands. Ulong is a rock island that is located near the Palau islands of Koror and Peleliu.

Captain Wilson befriended the people of the Palau islands. One of the chiefs, High Chief Ibedul of the Koror, helped to rebuild the Captain’s ship. Three months later, with friendships made, Captain Wilson returned to England with one of the princes of the Palau people.

At that point of time, though, the people of the island and the islands themselves were not official known as the Palau. This name came about when the Spanish church decided that they lay claim to the Caroline Islands. In 1885, the Spanish Church built two churches and staffed them with priests and brothers.

With the establishment of a church, the Roman alphabet began to spread across the islands. The inter-village wars quickly came to an end too.

But then, the Spanish Church no longer wanted the islands. They decided to sell the islands to the Germans who quickly began to make use of the resources of the island.

The islands weren’t bound to stay territory of one nation for a while. After WWI, the islands became the property of the Japanese people. With the influence of the Japanese people, the islands took on market trade and individual property ownership. Many of the clans started to dissolve.

After the previously mentioned battles in WWII, the islands became part of the Trust Territories established by the United Nations. The United States was assigned administration of the islands. The islands were split up into six distinct districts.

Palau World War II WW2

It wasn’t until 1994 when Palau gained its independence that it truly became its own nation. At that time, it began to build up its industry and regain its culture. The much-promised aid from the United States did not begin to make a difference until the Palau became their own nation.

Now, Palau is a beautiful place to visit with its own culture. With the effect of so many different cultures over the years, there is a lot to see and do on the islands. You can see remnants of WWII, Japanese bath houses, large factories, and more.

More impressive though is the amount of the islands that have retained their natural beauty with all of the things that have happened in the area. You can experience diving, kayaking, and nature exploration in a way that very few places have to offer.


  1. Elu

    As local studying abroad, I come to appreciate the conveniences of internet. And I truly appreciate everyone and anyone, who like you bring in the market through your websites. But it’s a bit gloomy to me when you say we don’t know where we came from. Are you that smart?

  2. Simmser

    The official page of the Palau Visitors Authority says:

    “Palau’s early history is still largely veiled in mystery. Why, how or when people arrived on our beautiful islands is unknown but studies indicate that today’s Palauans are distant relatives of the Malays of Indonesia, Melanesians of New Guinea, and Polynesians.”

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