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Ethan Daniels said it was hard to leave the tiny island nation of Palau, after having lived there for almost 10 years of his life. Daniels is older now, has a family and currently resides in the United States, but still manages to make a yearly pilgrimage to visit the nation’s beautiful coral reefs and welcoming inhabitants.
Daniels said the country has a "small town" feel, which is partially what draws him back each year. "Not many people know about Palau unless they are scuba divers, snorkelers or kayakers. It's incredibly popular among divers from all over the world," he said.
Palau thrives on the tourists that wish to witness the diverse marine life and natural beauty of the hundreds of Pacific islands that make up the nation of Palau. Daniels said that these types of nature-seeking tourists, along with thriving fishing industry allow the country to remain economically sound while preserving the beauty and unique culture of the country.
"There are no fast food restaurants or golf courses in Palau," Daniels said. "The society is interesting because it is developing very quickly in terms of technology." He said that many Palauans now work for the government or private companies. But, he said, "All the men [still] fish, even if it is not their job."
"It was a fascinating culture to spend a good chunk of my adult life," Daniels said. Even when he is far away from the remote islands of Palau, he dreams of being in the tiny country's coastal waters.
Palau was one of the few remaining countries left on our Global Challenge list, and we had the good fortune of receiving two iReport submissions from this country. Trevor Gahafer also lived in the island nation for a few years and, like Daniels, Gahafer said the country is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Some of Gahafer's fondest memories involve swimming in the clear waters of Palau.
Thanks to Daniels and Gahafer, we've crossed another nation off of our Global Challenge list. If you have videos or images from any of the remaining countries, we would love for you to add to our growing number of contributions from around the world.