|Official Country Name:||Republic of Palau|
|Language(s):||English, Palauan, Sonsorolese, Tobi, Angaur, Japanese|
Palau consists of approximately 200 islands of volcanic and coral limestone, near Indonesia and southeast of the Philippines, with a land area of about 178 square miles; eight islands are permanently inhabitable. Spain colonized Palau and sold the islands to Germany in 1899. Japan occupied Palau during World War I and was granted political control by the League of Nations in 1920. The United States seized the islands from Japan during World War II; Palau became a United Nations trusteeship territory in 1947, administered by the United States. Palau became a republic and signed a Compact of Free Association with the United States in 1994.
The population of Palau is about 18,766 people (2000 estimate). More than an estimated 5,000 people live outside the country, with many on Guam. The executive branch of government is ministerial, with the president choosing a cabinet; the national legislature is bicameral, with a House of Delegates and a Senate. Each state has a governor, some elected by popular vote and some appointed in accordance with tradition.
Languages spoken are part of the Malayo-Polynesian family, and there are dialectal differences among the islands. English is widely spoken, and older people often speak Japanese. About 40 percent of the population is Catholic, 25 percent Protestant, and 25 percent Palauan "traditional" religion.
Education is modeled after the U.S. system, and it is compulsory between the ages of 6 to 14; the public school system consists of 25 elementary schools and one high school with enrollments of 2,565 students and 780 students, respectively. School facilities are deteriorating and lack furniture and other basic equipment. The languages of instruction are Palauan and English. School funding comes from the U.S. Department of the Interior and from the U.S. Office of Education. Palau Community College, in the capital of Koror, enrolls about 450 students.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The World Factbook 2000. Directorate of Intelligence. 1 January 2000. Available from http://www.cia.gov.
Douglas, Norman, and Ngaire Douglas. Pacific Island Yearbook, 16th ed. North Ryde, NSW, Australia: Angus & Robertson, 1989.
—Richard E. Mezo
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