Palau is an island nation located in the western Pacific ocean. After being part of a United Nations trust territory administered by the US for 47 years, Palau became independent in 1994. It currently relies on financial aid from the US, providing them the right to maintain military bases there in return.
Palau is made up of 200 volcanic and coral islands, many of them surrounded by a single barrier reef. Its terrain ranges from white sandy beaches with an abundance of marine life to dense jungle. It has a tropical climate with heavy rainfall throughout the year. It considers itself the world’s first shark sanctuary, having banned commercial shark fishing within its waters. The extremely dangerous saltwater crocodile is indigenous to Palau.
The population of Palau is approximately 18,000, the vast majority of whom are native Palauans of mixed Melanesian and Austronesian descent. Palauan society follows a very strict matrilineal system, the legacy of which is seen in nearly every aspect of their traditions, including in funerals, marriages, and the passing of traditional titles and inheritance.