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Palau

Palau is a small country in the Caroline Islands of the Western Pacific. The official languages are English and Palauan, but Japanese, Sonsorolese, and Tobian are also spoken. Residents are a mix of Asian and Pacific Island groups, with about 70% Palauans. At one time the islanders were all short people, but they were replaced in the 12th century. Palau wrote its own constitution in 1981, but only became formally independent in 1994. That constitution banned the use and storage of nuclear, toxic, gas, and biological weaponsÔÇöprovisions that only took 13 years to pass. The government is a unitary presidential democratic republic. Palau gets minimal military assistance from the US, mostly Coast Guard. It's composed of oceanic islands, barrier reef islands, and coral atolls. The climate is tropical. Native animal species include the Mariana fruit bat, the coconut crab, and the Pacific sheath-tailed bat. Mainstays of the economy include tourism and other services, subsistence agriculture, and fishing. Foreign aid is a significant source of income. The Palau Aquarium in Koror is part of a Japanese-funded research complex, and is a very educational spot. Each of 17 areas is a replica of a different habitat. Around Palau, you can relax and observe wildlife or while lying on pristine, quiet beaches. Advanced divers can take in barracudas, sharks, and different varieties of coral at Blue Corner. If you appreciate enigmatic sculptures, check out Koror's Mother and Child Stone and the myths surrounding it, as well as the basalt monoliths at Badrulchau in Babeldaob, which are around 2,000 years old but of indeterminate origin and purpose. There are relics from WWII to be found on the islands of Angaur and Peleliu. Taro, sweet potato, and tapioca are popular starchy staples. Greens, including the taro leaf, are the main non-starchy vegetables consumed. Fish is common, and suckling pig and beef are more for special occasions. Try palusami, which consists of taro leaves or spinach, coconut cream, lime juice, onions, and spices. It's typically served with breadfruit or taro. Fish can be broiled in a banana leaf. Believe it or not, there's a place in Koror that serves smoothies (vegan optional) and raw organic cuisine. They even deliver healthy food to schools! That's really paying it forward.

Koror

Koror