The little known island nation of Palau recently catapulted into the spotlight when it agreed to take 17 detainees from Guantanamo Bay. We think the news may unexpectedly prompt outrage in Americans, who might prefer that their tax dollars be spent sending them to Palau instead.
At least, that ought to be their reaction– as soon as they figure out what and where Palau is. The tiny island country is one of the world’s youngest and smallest nations, with a population at around 21,000 people and having only just achieved its independence in 1994. It also happens to be an absolute paradise. Those Gitmo prisoners just scored themselves a serious upgrade.
Although we doubt that the detainees will be free to enjoy the utopian delights that abound in Palau, it seems like a good opportunity to shine a light on what this enticing nation offers to travelers and expats-to-be.
Palau is made up of several islands and atolls, but most of the population lives on the islands of Angaur, Babeldaob, Koror, and Peleliu. The latter three lie together within the same barrier reef, while Angaur is an oceanic island several miles to the south.
The islands also enjoy an annual tropical climate without much variation throughout the year– just a steady, nice 75-85 degree (F) average. In fact, the islands sit conveniently outside of the main typhoon zone, so unlike many islands along its latitude and region, typhoons and major storms are very rare.
All in all, Palau isn’t just another tropical island– it’s a floating Garden of Eden.
Aside from living the relaxed life, Palau also offers a plethora of snorkeling, diving, fishing and ocean activities. It also has an intriguing history. Long before European contact, the islands were home to the oldest known burial ceremonies in Oceania. Going back even further, there’s evidence that the island was once inhabited by the same short, hobbit-like humans that archaeologists have discovered remains of on the nearby island of Java. Mythical!
The good news is that it’s very easy for American citizens to move in and out of Palau, since the nation keeps very close ties to the U.S.. In fact, native Palauans are allowed to enter and leave the U.S. without visas or passports.
Enticed yet? With Palau in the news, it might not remain a secret for long.