Palau 2


The next recording of the existence of Palau by Europeans came a century later in 1697 when a group of Palauans were shipwrecked on the Philippine island of Samar to the northwest. They were interviewed by the Czech missionary Paul Klein on 28 December 1696. Klein was able to draw the first map of Palau based on the Palauans’ representation of their home islands that they made with an arrangement of 87 pebbles on the beach . Klein reported his findings to the Jesuit Superior General in a letter sent in June 1697.

Spanish Era:

This map and the letter caused a vast interest in the new islands. Another letter written by Fr. Andrés Serrano was sent to Europe in 1705, essentially copying the information given by Klein. The letters resulted in three unsuccessful Jesuit attempts to travel to Palau from Spanish Philippines in 1700, 1708 and 1709. The islands were first visited by the Jesuit expedition led by Francisco Padilla on 30 November 1710. The expedition ended with the stranding of the two priests, Jacques Du Beron and Joseph Cortyl, on the coast of Sonsorol, because the mother ship Santísima Trinidad was driven to Mindanao by a storm.

Palau 3
Spanish East Indies 1888

Another ship was sent from Guam in 1711 to save them only to capsize, causing the death of three more Jesuit priests. The failure of these missions gave Palau the original Spanish name Islas Encantadas (Enchanted Islands). Despite these early misfortunes, the Spanish Empire later came to dominate the islands.

Transitions Era:

British traders became regular visitors to Palau in the 18th century, followed by expanding Spanish influence in the 19th century. Palau, at the time, was part of the Spanish East Indies headquartered in the Philippines. Later in 1899 as part of the Caroline Islands, Palau was sold by the Spanish Empire to the German Empire as part of German New Guinea in the German–Spanish Treaty (1899).

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Koror Chiefs in 1915

During World War I, the Japanese Empire annexed the islands after seizing them from Germany in 1914. Following World War I, the League of Nations formally placed the islands under Japanese administration as part of the South Seas Mandate. In World War II, Palau was used by Japan to support its 1941 invasion of the Philippines, which succeeded in 1942. The invasion overthrew the American-installed Commonwealth government in the Philippines and installed the Japanese-backed Second Philippine Republic in 1943.

United States Era:

During World War II, the United States captured Palau from Japan in 1944 after the costly Battle of Peleliu, when more than 2,000 Americans and 10,000 Japanese were killed. In 1945–1946, the United States re-established control on the Philippines, and managed Palau through the Philippine capital of Manila. By the later half of 1946, however, the Philippines was granted full independence with the formation of the Third Republic of the Philippines, shifting the US Far West Pacific capital to Guam. Palau passed formally to the United States under United Nations auspices in 1947 as part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands established pursuant to Security Council Resolution 21.

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