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Mushroom - shaped islands are numerous and are scattered throughout the 40-mile lagoon. Bucked high above sea level by volcanic forces more than 20 million years ago, ancient living reefs form the lake-dimpled limestone islands of Palau. The island republic of Palau has been everything from a Japanese military base to a U.S. Trust territory it now seeks profitable indignity as a plush Pacific resort. The Republic of Belau lies 1,300 kilometers, southwest of Guam, and 600 kilometers east of the Philippines. (Jim Bryant Photo)...........