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Flag of Peleliu
Map of Peleliu from 1984
Peleliu island north dock in October 2006

Peleliu (or Beliliou) is an island in the island nation of Palau. Peleliu forms, along with two small islands to its northeast, one of the sixteen states of Palau. It is located northeast of Angaur and southwest of Koror.

Peleliu has a total area of 5 mi² (13 km²) As of 2004, its population was about 700, making it the third most populous state of Palau. Most of the island's population lives in the village of Kloulklubed which is the state capital on the northern coast. Including the capital, there are a total of four villages:

Vehicle registration plate of Peleliu as in April 2006


First sighting of Peleliu, Babeldaob, and Koror recorded by Westerners was by the Spanish expedition of Ruy López de Villalobos at the end of January of 1543. They were then charted as Los Arrecifes (The Reefs in Spanish).[1] In November and December of 1710 these three islands were again visited and explored by the Spanish missionary expedition commanded by Sargento Mayor Francisco Padilla on board of the patache Santísima Trinidad. Two years later they were explored in detail by the expedition of Spanish naval officer Bernardo de Egoy.[2]

The island was the site of the Battle of Peleliu in World War II. Peleliu is a memorial site for both WWII U.S. and Japanese troops. Many Marines and soldiers died on the beaches and in the caves of Peleliu. Many of the military installations of the era, such as the airstrip, are still intact, and shipwrecks from the battle remain visible underwater just off the coast.

The battle for the island was particularly brutal because by this time the Japanese military had evolved island defense tactics to those of "endurance engagements" (fukkaku). Avoiding decisive battles which characterized earlier island campaigns and often included the dramatic banzai attack, Japanese commanders instead deployed their soldiers to caves and other dug-in positions which had to be taken one by one—maximizing casualties on the attacking force. Peleliu's terrain proved ideal for such tactics, with areas of rock and cave formations heavily favoring the defenders.

A U.S. Navy ship USS Peleliu (LHA-5) is named for the vicious battle fought on the island of Peleliu during World War II.

American entertainer Bob Hope once said that the most emotional USO show he played in World War II was for the First Marine Division at Pavuvu. He agreed to do the show because the Marines were about to invade Peleliu. He recalled that sixty percent of the Marines were, "...knocked off in that invasion of Peleliu," although actual Marine casualties were closer to forty percent.

Peleliu Battlefield[edit]

Peleliu Battlefield
Peleliu is located in Palau
Location Peleliu, Palau
Coordinates 7°30′2″N 134°30′0″E / 7.50056°N 134.50000°E / 7.50056; 134.50000
Area 7,680 acres (3,110 ha)
Built 1944
Governing body State
NRHP Reference # 85001754[3]
Added to NRHP February 4, 1985

The entire island has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Peleliu Battlefield, and has been designated a U. S. National Historic Landmark.[3]


  1. ^ Burney, James A chronological history fo the discoveries in the South Sea or Pacific Ocean, London, 1813, v.I, p.233.
  2. ^ Coello, Francisco "Conflicto hispano-alemán" Boletín de Sociedad Geográfica de Madrid, t.XIX. 2º semestre 1885, Madrid, p.296.
  3. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 7°01′N 134°15′E / 7.017°N 134.250°E / 7.017; 134.250