|Geographical Map of Palau|
The Republic of Palau, an archipelago comprised of more than 300 islands spread over 325 miles, has a total land mass of 196 square miles. The country lies about 85 miles southwest of Guam and northeast of Philippines. Only nine of Palau's islands are inhabited. Babeldaob, the second largest landmass in Micronesia after Guam, is the largest of Palau's islands measuring approximately 21 miles long and 10 miles wide and encompasses about 78% of Palau's total land area.
Forty millions years ago during the Eocene Period, the Pacific and Philippine Plates collided causing earthquake and forming volcanoes. Eventually these volcanoes created islands. Over time, part of these islands sank while other parts rose creating lagoons and reef from areas that were once land and forming the island of Palau.
The legend of Palau's origin is as violent as its geological birth. In the beginning, gods roamed the earth. At Lukes, an area of sallow sea between Anguar and Pelellu, a giant calm gave birth to a shrimp-like creature named Latmikaik. Latmikaik gave birth to three children: Chuab, Ucherrerak and Tellebuu.
Chuab was different. He had a huge appetite. At first, the villagers kept up with his enormous appetite. Then their food became scarce and the people began to fear Chuab. Thus the village decided to destroy the giant boy with fire. As Chuab died, his body transformed into a woman. Her charred body exploded and her body parts became Palau.
Her back formed the East Coast and her front the West Coast. Chuabs head became Ngarchelong and her neck became Arrenged. The groin became Aimelik, a village where there is much rain. Chub's stomach became Ngiwal, where villagers eats 7 times a day. the abdomen became Melekeok. Chub's knees became Airai. The burned legs formed the islands of Koror, Malakal, Ngarkabesang and Ngerudabel. The Rock Island are bits and pieces of Chuab's body. Palauans link traits of villagers with body parts. When describing the shape of Palau's islands, one need only to imagine Chuab's body.
|Traditional People of Palau|
The origin of Palauan civilization dates as far back as 3000 BC. Palauans refer to this earliest period as the time of the gods (Taem era Chelid). Interestingly, biblical stories from the old testaments parallel Palauan legends of demi-gods as well as a great flood. Ancient ruins of stone monoliths and terraces scattered throughout Palau stand as a reminder of this mysterious past.
Melanesian and European influences can be seen in Palauan art and culture. It is believed that Palau's ancestors were seafaring
people originated from the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. More recently Spain, Germany, Japan and the United States have left their marks.