Palau (/pəˈlaʊ/, historically Belau or Pelew), officially the Republic of Palau (Palauan: Beluu er a Belau), is an island country located in the western Pacific Ocean. The country's population of around 21,000 is spread across 250 islands, which form the western chain of the Caroline Islands in Micronesia. The most populous of these is Koror. The capital Ngerulmud is located on the nearby island of Babeldaob, in Melekeok State. Palau shares maritime boundaries with Indonesia, the Philippines, and the Federated States of Micronesia.
The country was originally settled approximately 3,000 years ago by migrants from the Philippines and sustained a Negrito population until around 900 years ago. The islands were first explored by Europeans in the 16th century, and were made part of the Spanish East Indies in 1574. Following Spain's defeat in the Spanish–American War in 1898, the islands were sold to Imperial Germany in 1899 under the terms of the German–Spanish Treaty, where they were administered as part of German New Guinea. The Imperial Japanese Navy conquered Palau during World War I, and the islands were later made a part of the Japanese-ruled South Pacific Mandate by the League of Nations. During World War II, skirmishes, including the major Battle of Peleliu, were fought between American and Japanese troops as part of the Mariana and Palau Islands campaign. Along with other Pacific Islands, Palau was made a part of the United States-governed Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands in 1947. Having voted against joining the Federated States of Micronesia in 1979, the islands gained full sovereignty in 1994 under a Compact of Free Association with the United States.
Politically, Palau is a presidential republic in free association with the United States, which provides defense, funding, and access to social services. Legislative power is concentrated in the bicameral Palau National Congress. Palau's economy is based mainly on tourism, subsistence agriculture and fishing, with a significant portion of gross national product (GNP) derived from foreign aid. The country uses the United States dollar as its currency. The islands' culture mixes Japanese, Micronesian and Melanesian elements. The majority of citizens are of mixed Micronesian, Melanesian, and Austronesian descent, with significant groups descended from Japanese and Filipino settlers. The country's two official languages are Palauan (member of the wider Sunda–Sulawesi language group) and English, with Japanese, Sonsorolese, and Tobian recognised as regional languages.;
Thomas Esang "Tommy" Remengesau, Jr. (born 29 February 1956) is a Palauan politician who is the current President of Palau. Remengsau was originally president of Palau from 2001 to 2009. He was elected to another four-year term as President in November 2012 and took office on 17 January 2013.
He became Vice-President in 1992 and was elected as President in 2000; he took office on January 1, 2001. He wished to make Palau less dependent upon United States aid, and promoted the expansion and growth of the tourist industry through his policy and slogan of, Preserve the Best and Improve the Rest. The "best" here, being an allusion to Palau's especially gifted and diverse underwater resource in the Micronesian region, and its reputation of being considered among the top in underwater attractions of the world. In Palau's foreign affairs, Remengesau had been active in maintaining Palau's presence in the UN. During his administration the tiny nation of Palau had elevated to becoming known as an unheralded leader amongst the international community through environmental initiatives, such as the Micronesian Challenge and its cooperation with South Pacific Nations in advocating awareness of Global Warming and its effects in the South Pacific Region.