Occupied by Germany during the First and Second World Wars, it has experienced an economic boom in the past 50 years to become a model Western European liberal democracy.
However, there has also been a growing divide between the mainly Dutch-speaking north and the mainly French-speaking south, as well as concerns about the growth of Islamic extremism among immigrant communities in the capital, Brussels.
Brussels is the headquarters of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato), making it the polyglot home of an army of international diplomats and civil servants
- Republic of Palau
- Capital: Ngerulmud
- Population 20,600
- Area 508 sq km (196 sq miles)
- Major languages Palauan, English
- Major religions Christianity, Modekngei (indigenous belief)
- Life expectancy 66 years (men), 72 years (women)
- Currency US dollar