General issues: United States trust territory/Self government 1983-1994, Republic 1994-Present
Country name on general issues: Palau
Currency: 1 Dollar = 100 Cents 1983-Present
Population: 13 000 in 1983, 21 200 in 2015
Political history Palau
Palau is located in the northwestern Pacific Ocean and constitutes the westernmost part of the Caroline Islands. The indigenous population – the Palauans – is Micronesian. The first Europeans to explore the Caroline Islands were the Portuguese and the Spanish in the 16th century. Spain claimed, but did not settle, the Caroline Islands until 1885. The Spanish presence on the islands was short lived. After the 1898 Spanish-American War, Spain had to cede its main possession in the Pacific, the Philippines. Subsequently, Spain decided to withdraw from the Pacific entirely and sold the Caroline Islands to Germany in 1899.
German rule was also short lived. At the outbreak of WWI, Japan occupied the islands in 1914. Germany formally ceded the islands, in 1919, by way of the Treaty of Versailles. In 1920, the Caroline Islands were made part of the League of Nations South Pacific mandated territory – administered by Japan. When Japan left the League of Nations in 1936, the islands were annexed as an integral part of the Japanese Empire. During WWII, the United States occupied the islands in 1944-1945.
After WWII, in 1947, the Caroline islands were made part of the United Nations trust territory of the Pacific Islands administered by the United States. The trust territory was divided into districts and Palau was one of the districts. In the 1970’s the trust territory started to move towards independence. The Palau district opted for independence and gained self government as the republic of Palau in 1981. A Compact of Free Association was signed with the United States in 1982. The United States remains responsible – among other things – for the defense of the islands. Palau gained full independence, in 1994, when the Compact of Free Association was ratified and the trusteeship ended.
Economically, the indigenous population traditionally depended on subsistence agriculture and fishing, which are, until today, important economic activities. The services sector has developed to become the most important sector – tourism being the most important subsector. United States subsidies are an important part of the Palau government income. Palau has a per capita GDP that is double that of the average in Micronesia. The Palauans form the majority – 67% – of the population, while other population groups are of Asian and Pacific descent.
Postal history Palau
The Germans opened the first post office in the Caroline Islands in 1899, using stamps designated ‘Karolinen’. These were used until 1914. Japanese stamps were used in the South Pacific Mandate and after annexation to the Japanese Empire. In the Trust Territory of the Pacific stamps of the United States were used. Palau issued stamps from 1983. The stamps issued since then are a blend of issues with themes of national interest, and a large number of issues with themes aimed at the thematic collectors market.