Palau / Belau
I have just returned from a trip to the Republic of Palau, a small island nation in the Pacific, where I am also accredited as ambassador of Sweden. I was there to present my Letter of Credence to H. E. Hohnson Toribiong, the President of Palau, and I was given the opportunity to have an interesting discussion with him. I also met the Vice President, the Honorable Kerai Mariur, who concurrently serves as the Minister of Finance, and other Members of the Government.
Palau (Belau) is one of the world’s youngest and smallest sovereign nations, gaining its full independence in 1994. Geographically, Palau is part of Micronesia. The islands of Palau have been inhabited some 3,000 years. The first Europeans to come to the islands were the Spanish (1522), who later set up a colonial administration there in 1885. In 1899 Germany purchased the islands from Spain, after already having been engaged in copra production under a Spanish mandate for several years. However, a strong typhoon destroyed most of the coconut trees in 1906. The emphasis then changed to phosphate mining, which increased rapidly. As a result of the outbreak of the First World War, Japan took control of Palau in 1914 and made Koror, the present capital of Palau, the capital of the entire Micronesian region. A number of Japanese migrated to the islands and in the 1940′s the Japanese greatly outnumbered the Palauans. After the Second World War Palau became a part of the “US Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands”. In 1979 the autonomous Federation of Micronesia was formed, but Palau chose to become an independent state in free association with the United States in 1981. And, finally, in 1994, it became completely independent.
It is a beautiful country where tourism is becoming more and more important for the local economy. Palau is still very genuine and not overly exploited. For obvious reasons, climate change and environmental issues are of great importance to the country.