Culture and identity
Most of the population are native Palauan, who are of Micronesian, Malayan and Melanesian descent. There is also a large Filipino population, as well as people from Chinese and other Asian communities, and European, Carolinian and other Micronesian peoples.
Palauan is the most common language, with local languages spoken on some islands. English, Filipino and Japanese are also widely spoken.
Though embracing some Western trappings, many Palauans identify with their traditional culture. Dances with slow fluid movement accompanied by chants are used to tell stories.
Life expectancy for the total population is 69 years of age, with men averaging 66 years and women 72 years. Palau’s health statistics are very good compared to other Pacific Island countries. Infant mortality is 12 per 1,000 live births. Palau’s health system is largely funded by donations from the USA.
Religion and beliefs
Palauans are mainly Christian. The other major religions are Modekngei (indigenous to Palau), Seventh-day Adventist, Jehovah's Witness and Latter-day Saints. The 2000 census recorded 16% of the population as not following a religion.
Food and shelter
Taro, sweet potato, tapioca, bananas and breadfruit are an important part of the Palauan diet. Locally grown mango, coconut, pandanus and papaya are plentiful, as is seafood.
Traditionally, the extended family lives in homes built of wood on stilts, with nipa, palm thatch. The custom of ocheraol helps build community links through the provision of food, services and traditional money to help build a house. In cities, homes are built of concrete and tend to house just the nuclear families. They have electricity, running water and flush toilets.