Palau, officially the Republic of Palau and historically Belau, Palaos or Pelew, is an island country in the western Pacific. The nation has approximately 340 islands and connects the western chain of the Caroline Islands with parts of the Federated States of Micronesia. It has a total area of 466 square kilometers. The most populous island is Koror. The capital Ngerulmud is located on the nearby island of Babeldaob, in Melekeok State. Palau shares maritime boundaries with international waters to the north, Micronesia to the east, Indonesia to the south, and the Philippines to the west.
The country was originally settled approximately 3,000 years ago by migrants from Maritime Southeast Asia. Spain was the first European nation to explore the islands in the 16th century, and they were made part of the Spanish East Indies in 1574. Following Spain's defeat in the Spanish–American War in 1898, the islands were sold to Imperial Germany in 1899 under the terms of the German–Spanish Treaty, where they were administered as part of German New Guinea. After World War I, the islands were made a part of the Japanese-ruled South Seas Mandate by the League of Nations.