The United Nations' 2012 World Drugs Report, published in June, contains at least one surprising number - the nation with the highest level of cannabis use among adults is Palau.
This tiny island nation in the western Pacific Ocean is home to just 21,000 people, where - according to the UN - a quarter of adults use cannabis.
Not only are Palauans ahead of everyone else on this measure, they're ahead by a long way. The country with the next highest rate of cannabis use is Italy, where - the report says - some 15% of adults use the drug.
Palau president Tommy Remengesau Jr. is part of a change that the world needs to see. His nation might consist of a mere 20,000 citizens, but his message is directed at the entire globe. Remengesau says that climate change is like a dark cloud over his people. "It's a real threat," says the calm, soft-voiced leader. "We are not visualizing it — we are experiencing it."
Low-lying archipelagoes like Palau are among the ecosystems in which the climate change destined to hit other nations tomorrow is a reality today.
The tiny Pacific country of Palau accepted 17 former prisoners from the Guantánamo Bay detention centre. The 17 are Uighurs, Muslims from the Chinese region of Xinjiang. China had demanded their repatriation and other countries were reluctant to accept them for fear of China's anger.
There are no buses and just 38 miles of roads, almost half of which are unpaved. Employment opportunities are limited to the government and the luxury tourist industry. The islands receive 50,000 visitors a year, many of them scuba divers, and were twice chosen as the location for the US reality television show "Survivor".
But this archipelago of 343 islands radiates a diversity of marine life throughout much of the tropical Pacific. Truly, Palau is an Eden of lush oceanic abundance.
The southern reaches of the archipelago are where Palau's most characteristic geological features rise in strange formations. These are the Rock Islands: verdant, small, undercut isles that resemble green mushrooms.
About 70 percent of Palauans live in the capital city of Koror on the island of Koror. Tourism is the country's main industry, with the rich marine environment inviting snorkeling and scuba diving.
Consider Palau, an island in Micronesia, for long an exclusive destination for rich Japanese in search of seclusion. Palau was recently discovered by package-tour operators in Taiwan, so now the island's remarkable Jellyfish Lake, home to a dense colony of non-stinging jellyfish, is visited by a steady stream of bathers, each of whom leaves a little suntan lotion and whatnot in a unique ecosystem barely examined by scientists.
Now an independent nation of about 20,000 residents, Palau weathered several colonial periods: Spain, Germany, Japan and the U.S. all left their mark in one way or another. Palau's government buildings, currently in Koror, were built by the Japanese before World War II. They're timeworn, like most of the buildings and roads in the tiny capital. There are 23 miles of paved roads and two stoplights, although they don't work. (They caused more congestion than they prevented, residents say.)
Palau, a former U.S. trust territory in the Pacific, is one of a handful of countries that does not recognize China, instead recognizing Taiwan.
Toribiong said Palau did not consider China's reaction when it accepted the U.S. request to temporarily resettle the detainees, who were captured in Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2001.
The Pentagon later decided they were not enemy combatants. Even so, the Obama administration faced fierce congressional opposition to allowing the Uighurs on U.S. soil as free men and so it sought alternatives abroad.
Palau became independent in 1994, after being part of a United Nations trust territory administered by the US for 47 years.
It relies on financial aid from the US, provided under a Compact of Free Association which gives the US responsibility for Palau's defence and the right to maintain military bases there. Direct aid was set to wind up in 2009, but the US agreed to an additional package of $250 million in January 2010.