Ethnicity, Language, & Religion of Palau
About 70% of Palau's population is Palauan, which is an
ethnicity that is often times considered to be Micronesian. The Micronesians are
a combination of Melanesian, Polynesian, and Filipino, but the percentage of each
of these groups varies. Although widely considered Micronesian, The Palauans have
significant traces of Malay and Melanesian, but, like all Micronesians, have traces
of Filipino and Polynesian as well. Additionally, many
Palauans today have Japanese ancestry due to intermarriage
between the two groups in the 1800s and 1900s.
In addition to the Palauans, there is a significant Filipino
population in Palau, making up about 15% of the population.
The ethnic Chinese make up about 5% of the population and
the rest of the people are of multiple ethnicities, including other parts of
Asia, Europe, and various regions in Micronesia.
Palau has numerous official languages depending on what state
you're in. Generally speaking English and Palauan are official languages throughout
the country, but some islands don't recognize English and others don't recognize
Palauan as official. Most states also officially recognize additional languages,
primarily local Micronesian languages, but on some islands Japanese is recognized
(as this was the de facto language of communication in years past). Despite official
status, few people are native English speakers and in some areas there are few native
Palauan speakers, although these two languages tend to be the languages of communication
across groups. Among the many other native languages are Sonsoralese, Tobi, and
Angaur. Tagalog (or Filipino) is also widely spoken by Filipino immigrants, but
is not officially recognized.