Tobi Island is located at latitude 3 degrees, 00' 50" north and longitude 131 degrees 10' 37" east. Tobi is about 400 miles southeast of Mindanao in the Philippines and half that distance north of Halmahera in Indonesia. Sebastian Marino developed aerial views of Tobi and Helen Reef in the summer of 1999.
Tobi, a small coral island, is one of the Republic of Palau's Southwest Islands, and the most remote place in the Republic. The nearest land is an uninhabited sand spit on Helen Reef 40 miles east. Koror, the capital of the Republic of Palau, and the nearest island and town of any size is almost 400 miles northeast of Tobi. The Southwest Islands, five small islands, lie to the southeast of Palau proper: a northern cluster of Sonsorol, Merir, and Pulo Ana and the two southern islands of Helen Reef and Tobi.
Tobi's area is less than one-quarter of a square mile. Its highest point is less than 20 feet above sea level and most of the island's elevation is less than half that. Surrounded by a fringing reef, the island consists of a beach, a band of high ground planted with coconuts, a path circling the island, another band of coconuts and bush, and taro gardens at the center. Tobi is home to relatively few native species of plants or animals.
Politically, Tobi is known as Hatohobei State (HSG), one of the 16 states of the Republic of Palau. Detailed information about Tobi's territory and boundaries is found in the Hatohobei State Constitution, Article I, Territory, Section 1, Name and Boundaries of the State. Hatohobei State Flag and History gives information about HSG's flag and its design.
Tobi has been known by many names over the last several hundred years. Called Hatohobei in its people's native language and Tobi in English, it is called Tochobei in Palauan, Togobei in Japanese, and on old maps was labeled both as Lord North Island and Peaked Hill Island. Clearly this is a place with a complex history and a glimpse into it can be found at Overview: Tobian Culture & History.
Tobi Then contains much more information on Tobi's history. The culture and language of Tobi is ultimately derived from islands to the east in what is now Yap State of the Federated States of Micronesia. Tobian Language contains detailed information on Tobian, including old and new vocabularies.
While we are posting on this site everything we can find about Tobi Island, we cannot vouch for the accuracy of anything other than material and information developed specifically for this site by Peter W. Black.
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Updated: February 1, 2017