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Palau, History

Compact of Free Association, Trust Territory, European diseases, Koror, British ship

Palau was probably first settled by migrants from islands in Southeast Asia as early as 3,000 or 4,000 years ago. The Spanish became the first Europeans to visit Palau when they landed on the islands in 1710. In 1783 a British ship was wrecked off Palau and European diseases, to which the Palauans had no immunity, spread throughout the islands; consequently, the population, which was estimated at 50,000, fell to about 5,000. Germany purchased the islands from Spain in 1899 and became the first nation to establish effective foreign rule. In 1914 the islands were lost to Japan during World War I; Japan made the islands its headquarters for Micronesia, bringing large-scale economic development and urbanization to Koror. Palauans came to be outnumbered by Japanese settlers and workers from Korea. In 1944, during World War II, Palau was invaded by U.S. marines, and some of the bloodiest fighting of the war occurred there.

After the war, the United States replaced Japan in most of the islands of Micronesia. In 1947 Palau became part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands established by the United Nations and administered by the United States. American rule was marked by increased dependency but little economic development. Democratic institutions and an American style of education were introduced.

In November 1993, Palauans voted to become a self-governing nation in free association with the United States. The new political status became effective on October 1, 1994. Palau manages its internal and external affairs, except for defense. The United States is responsible for defense and retains strategic rights to Palau. Under the Compact of Free Association, Palauans are allowed free entry to work and reside in the United States. On December 15, 1994, Palau became a member of the United Nations.

Article key phrases:

Compact of Free Association, Trust Territory, European diseases, Koror, British ship, Democratic institutions, migrants, marines, urbanization, immunity, Europeans, Pacific Islands, external affairs, World War, islands, population, Palau, free entry, United Nations, Southeast Asia, war, Micronesia, Spain, Spanish, Korea, workers, defense, Japan, Germany, nation, headquarters, United States, member, years


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