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Palau

If you're an avid scuba diver, you already know tropical Palau's the last word in underwater wonderlands. Likewise if you're a war buff (you are?), you'll remember the archipelago's significance from the final days of WWII. What you may not know is that Palau also features Micronesia's richest flora and fauna, both on land and beneath the waves, and what's more, they released an Elvis Presley postage stamp a full year before the USA got around to doing so.

Of all the nations to come out of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, Palau has the smallest population, the vast majority of which is concentrated in the capital, Koror. Translation: not only does Palau offer a central metropolis for all your (little) big city needs, but better still, step outside the city's boundaries and you'll never once have to pick your way through commuters on your way home from the beach. Bring your binoculars as well as your beach towel - you're going to like what you see.

Full country name: Republic of Palau
Area: 180 sq mi (460 sq km)
Population: 18,400
Capital city: Koror (pop 12,300)
People: Polynesian, Malayan, Melanesian
Languages: English (official), Palauan (official), Sonsoralese, Angavr, Japanese, Tobi
Religion: Christian (33%, including Catholic, Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Assembly of God, Liebenzell Mission and Mormon), Modeknegi (indigenous faith)
Government: Constitutional government in free association with the USA
President: Tommy Remengesau

GDP: US$160 million
GDP per head: US$8,700
Major industries: tourism, craft items, some fishing and agriculture
Major trading partners: USA, Japan


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