A republic comprising about 100 islands and islets at the western end of the Caroline Islands chain in the western Pacific Ocean. Palau is about 800 miles east southeast of the Philippine Islands. These islands were part of the Spanish Caroline Islands until 1899, when they were sold to Germany, which issued stamps for use there. The Caroline Islands were seized by the Japanese during World War I and administered by them under a 1919 mandate of the League of Nations. Invaded and conquered by United States forces in 1944, the islands were made part of the United Nations-mandated U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific in 1947. Palau became a republic in 1981 and began to issue its own stamps in 1983, although its mail continues to be handled by the U.S. Postal Service.