After three decades as part of the UN Trust Territory of the Pacific under US administration, this westernmost cluster of the Caroline Islands opted for independence in 1978 rather than join the Federated States of Micronesia.
A Compact of Free Association with the US was approved in 1986 but not ratified until 1993. It entered into force the following year when the islands gained independence.
Tropical; hot and humid; wet season May to November
Palauan (Micronesian with Malayan and Melanesian admixtures) 73%, Carolinian 2%, Asian 21.7%, Caucasian 1.2%, other 2.1% (2015 est.)
Unlike in western countries where raised eyebrows often signal confusion, in Palau they are taken to mean agreement.
Tinola — soup made with chicken, green papaya, and ginger
High-income Pacific island economy; major subsistence agriculture and fishing industries; reliant on US aid; strong tourism has prompted sustainability oversight mechanism; severely disrupted by COVID-19