Palau


Figure 1.-- Christianity was introduced by the Spanish during the colonial era. We are notsure about Japanese policies (1915-44). American missionaries arrived after the Pacific War. This photograph shows an American pentecostal missionary family. It was taken in Palau durung 1986.

The Republic of Palau is a Pacific island nation 500 miles east of the Philippine Islands. Palau is a small oceanic archepelago. The larger islands are Angaur, Babeldaob, Koror, and Peleliu. The latter three lie close together within the same barrier reef, Angaur is an oceanic island several miles to the south. Most of the population live on Koror. The small coral atoll of Kayangel is located north of the other islands. There is also uninhabited Rock Islands to the west of the rest of Palau. And a remote group of six small islands, the Southwest Islands, some 375 miles from the main islands are the final piece of the country. Palau became important in World War II because of its location. The United States in preparation for the invasion of the Philippines, attacked Peleliu (1944). A horendous battle ensued in the rugged terraine of the island where the Japanese were well entrenched. After the WAr, the United Stattes administerted Palau as a United Nations Trusteeship. The U.N. granted Palau independence (1994).

Geography

The Republic of Palau is a Pacific island nation 500 miles east of the Philippine Islands and west of Kiribati (Carolinec Islands). Palau is a small oceanic archepelago. It was once known as the 'Black Islands'. We are notvsure why. The larger islands of the Palau Archepeligo are Angaur, Babeldaob, Koror, and Peleliu. The latter three lie close together within the same barrier reef, Angaur is an oceanic island several miles to the south. Most of the population live on Koror. The small coral atoll of Kayangel is located north of the other islands. There is also uninhabited Rock Islands to the west of the rest of Palau. And a remote group of six small islands, the Southwest Islands, some 375 miles from the main islands are the final piece of the country.

History

Palau was settled fairly recently. There are no written records, but historians believe humans first reached Palau, probably from the Philippines (about 2000 BC). A pygmy population was reported on the island, but disappeared (about 1100 AD). Linguists trace the modern population to the Sunda Islands (Malay Archepeligo). The Spanish colonized the nearby Philippines (16th century), but showed little interest in Palau. British traders were active (18th century). The Spanish showed more interest (19th century.) Pope Leo XIII claimed Spainís rights over the entire Caroline Islands to preclude a German seizure (1885). Spanish missionaries (Capuchin priests) established two churches. The Spanish were able to finally end inter-village wars. The Spanish after being defeated by the Americans in the Spanish-American War (1898) sold Palau and most of the rest of the Caroline Islands to Germany which at the time was expanding its Pacific colonial empire (1899). The Germans began exploiting the islands' natural resources. They implemented a forced labor system which required native labor work the phosphate mines in Angaur. The Germans also organized plantation and planted coconuts rather than relying on natural coconut palms. The German colonial authorities also began refirming usland cukture. They banned the month-long traditional mur feast, seeing is as a waste of time and adversely affecting production at German-owned mines and plantations. The Japanese after joining the Btiish in World War I gained control of Palau and the islands became a League of Nations Trusteeship. Japan also worked on the islands' economic development, but in a more balanced way than the Germans. The Japanese established free public and vocational schools for the Palauans. The Japanese had a huge impct on Oalu. They developed a market economy for the first time. As part of this process, property was transferred from the ckanb to the individual. Palau became important in World War II because of its location off the Philippines. After the American victory in the Marianas (June-July 1944), it became clear that the next American offensive would be to retake the Philippines. The United States in preparation for the invasion of the Philippines wanted a secure logistical base. American forces attacked Peleliu (September 1944). What was anticipated to be a quick campaign turned into horendous, protracted battle (September-November 1944). The Japanese having anticipated an American invasion, heavily garrisoned the Islands and dug into the rugged terraine. The fighting continued for more than 2 months (November 1944). Many military historians judge the invasion to have been unecessary and a costly mistake. More than 2,000 Americans died in the fighting. The 10,000 Japanese garrison on Peleliu fought to the death. After the War, Japanese civilians were repatriated. The United States administerted Palau as a United Nations Trusteeship. Four of the U.N. Central Pacific Trust Territory districts formed a single federated Micronesian state (1979). The Marshall Islands and Palau declined to participate in the Federation. Palau as the the western-most cluster of the Caroline Islands (Kerabati) opted for independent status. (The rest of the Carolines and Gilbert islands became Kerabati.) The Republic of Palau was proclaimed (1981). Palau then signed a Compact of Free Association with the United States (1982). After eight referendums, the Compact was ratified (1993). The U.N. granted Palau independence (1994).

Economy

Palau since indeoendence has began taking steps to create an offshore financial center (1998). Palau passed its first bank regulation and anti-money laundering laws (2001)..

Ethnicity

The Palauan population reached a record high of 40,000 people during the Japanese mandate. Only about 10 percent, however, were native were Palauans. Palauan are an ethnic mixture of Micronesians, Malayan, and Melanesians. They constitute about 70 percent of the population in the 2000 Census. Other groups include Filipino (about 13 percent), Chinese (5 percent), other Asian (2 percent), Europens (2 percent), Carolinians (1 percent), other Micronesian (1 percent) and others (3 percent). We are not sure how the children fathered by Japanese fathers are classified. The Ibedul of Koror and Ludee were noted for their tatoos and piercings.

Religion

Roman Catholicism is the dominant religion on Palau. This dates from the Spanish colonial period. The Spanish showed little interestv in Palau, but its location close to the Spanish Philippines meant that Catholocism was the principal religion introduced. The Spanish began to colonize Palau (19th century). It is a this time that Jesuit priests arrived. Protestant missionaries arrived with the Germans (early-20th century. During the Japanese mandate, Japanese Christian missions were active. Japanese Buddhists showed little interest in Palau. Today the the Seventh-day Adventist and Evangelical churches have missionaries teaching in the elementary and high schoolstheir teachers support. There are now some Bengali Muslims. We are not sure why they emigrated and when. And a few Uyghurs who had been detained by American authorities at Guantanamo Bay have been allowed to settle in Palau. The Constitution of independent Palau guarantees freedom of religion, and the Government of this largely Catholic nation since independence has honored this guarantee.






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Created: 3:44 AM 1/30/2011
Last updated: 8:47 PM 2/27/2012