Palau is an archipelago of approximately 340 islands in Oceania, located in the western Pacific Ocean. Its nearest neighbours are Northern Mariana Islands and Guam to the northeast, Federated States of Micronesia to the east, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia to the south and Philippines to the west.
In 1947, the United Nations decided the United States would administer Palau as part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. The country became independent in 1994 but the ties with US are still strong.
This idyllic archipelago is full of intrigue. Let’s learn some fun facts about the country.
Interesting facts about Palau
1. The country has a natural spa. The white mud found in the Milky Way Lagoon on Koror Island is considered magical. ! It is claimed that by applying the mud and silty water to your skin, you can appear up to 5 years younger. Most tourists make sure to take a mud bath in the lagoon so that they can treat their skin naturally without visiting a spa.
2. The traditional society in Palau is a matriarchy. Women are the decision makers in the society. Matrilineal practices prevail in inheritance, marriage, funeral, and all other aspects of life in the country.
3. Palau has the fourth smallest population in the world. It is the 16th smallest country by area.
4. Palau doesn’t have a military force of its own. Through the agreement of Compact of Free Association, the US is responsible for defending Palau against foreign invasions.
5. There is a jellyfish lake on Eil Malk Island. The lake was largely cut off from the ocean in the past but is connected to it now via small fissures and tunnels in the limestone bedrock. Millions of golden jellyfish migrate across the lake daily. These jellyfish are not poisonous and therefore people can swim with them. I want to jump in this lake just by looking at the picture. Such a pretty sight!
6. While the whole world sees sharks as villains, Palauans were the first ones to protect them. The world’s first shark sanctuary was set up in Palau in 2009. All commercial shark fishing activities were banned in Palau within its waters. There are over 130 different species of shark in Palau, and diving with them is an increasingly popular attraction. Let’s hope other countries also learn from this island nation.
7. Saltwater crocodiles are found in abundance in Palau throughout the various mangroves and even in parts of the beautiful rock islands. Even though they are considered aggressive, there is only a single fatal human attack recorded in which dates back to the 1960s. The people have decided to coexist with every creature here.
8. There is only one jail in the country and that too is a tourist destination. The inmates sell beautifully carved wooded storyboards at a retail facility located in the premises of the jail which are quite popular among the tourists. Who wants to go to jail to shop? I wonder how they react if you shoplift from there.
9. Considering the size of the country, it is the most over governed place in the world. Palau is divided into 16 states, which are further divided into municipalities. Every municipality has both a tribal chiefdom and an elected legislature. On top of all, the country has only 18,000 people, so it is obviously over-governed.
10. The delicacy of the country is Fruitbat Soup. The bat is cooked in boiling water with spices and vegetables. Will you dare to eat it now?
Trip leader Sakshi’s Recommendations if you are visiting Palau:
The Blue Corner in Palau is one of the best dive sites in the world. At this coral peninsula, divers drift down the wall before hooking into the top edge of the reef. You can see manta rays, blacktip sharks, Napoleon Wrasse, a leopard shark, and so many colorful small fish. It’s definitely a dive to remember!
Swim in the Milky Way lagoon and take a bath in the white mud.
Splash around in the Ngardmau Falls. This waterfall is the largest waterfall in Palau. The height of the Ngardmau waterfall is around 37 meters (120 feet) wide and 30 meters (100 feet) high. And you know, wherever there is a waterfall we have to jump in it.
See the Badrulchau Stone Monoliths. Palau has one of the oldest and largest megalithic sites, which is Badrulchau. As for archeologists, the site dates back to 150 AD. Legend has it these were placed there by a god to support the building of a Bai to hold all of his people. There are two columns of refrigerator-sized basalt monoliths, some with carvings of faces.
And last but not the least, swim in Jellyfish Lake. You know you have to do it.