The Palau Area

The Palau are is about 125 miles long and 25 miles wide, and the administrative center of this group in Koror (7° 20′ north latitude, 134° 28′ east longitude). The islands are 706 nautical miles southwest of Guam and 1044 nautical miles east of Manila. There are an estimated 243 islands, but only 8 are of significant size. The total land area is about 188 square miles, with about 478 square miles of enclosed lagoon.

The main islands, Babelthuap, Koror, Ururthapel, Eil Malk, and Peleliu, are surrounded by a coral reef, about 70 miles long, that fringes the eastern shores but widens out on the western side. The lagoon on the western side of the islands is about 40 miles long and 8 miles wide. This reef is difficult to cross, except in a few places, even by the native canoes. To the north of the main islands there is an atoll (5 by 2 miles) with four low, sandy motus, the Kayangel Islands, which rise a few feet above the water. To the south of the main islands there is a raised atoll, Angaur, which has important phosphate deposits.

Babelthuap, the largest island of the Palau group, is a pear-shaped island that is widest toward the southern end and narrows down to a slender peninsula on the north. It is about 23 miles long and varies in width from 4 to 8 miles. The total area of Babelthuap is about 143 square miles. The island has several lines of hills with a maximum elevation of 713 feet. Babelthuap is composed of volcanic rock except for some uplifted coral in the south. The coastal lowlands are covered with mangrove while most of the hilly interior is wooded except for some savanna cover.

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