Palau, officially the Republic of Palau, is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, some 800 km east of the Philippines and 3200 km south of Tokyo. Having emerged from United Nations trusteeship (administered by the United States) in 1994, it is one of the world's youngest and smallest nations.

Palau was part of the Spanish East Indies, and was administered from the Spanish Philippines until the Spanish-American War of 1898. Spain in 1899, after defeat during the Spanish-American War, sold the islands to Germany in the 1899. The islands were administered by German New Guinea. Germans lost the islands to Japan after World War I.

Palau was the scene of intense fighting between American and Japanese forces beginning September 1944 resulting in an Allied victory. After WWII, the United Nations played a role in deciding the U.S. would administer Palau as part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. Eventually, in 1979, Palauan voted against joining the Federated States of Micronesia based on language and cultural differences. After a long period of transition, including the violent deaths of two presidents in 1985 and in 1988, Palau voted to freely associate with the United States in 1994 while opting to retain independence under the Compact of Free Association.