Australia - Oceania :: Palau
  • Introduction :: Palau
  • Background:
    After three decades as part of the UN Trust Territory of the Pacific under US administration, this westernmost cluster of the Caroline Islands opted for independence in 1978 rather than join the Federated States of Micronesia. A Compact of Free Association with the US was approved in 1986 but not ratified until 1993. It entered into force the following year when the islands gained independence.
  • Geography :: Palau
  • Location:
    Oceania, group of islands in the North Pacific Ocean, southeast of the Philippines
    Geographic coordinates:
    7 30 N, 134 30 E
    Map references:
    Oceania
    Area:
    total: 459 sq km
    land: 459 sq km
    water: 0 sq km
    country comparison to the world: 198
    Area - comparative:
    slightly more than 2.5 times the size of Washington, DC
    Land boundaries:
    0 km
    Coastline:
    1,519 km
    Maritime claims:
    territorial sea: 12 nm
    exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
    contiguous zone: 24 nm
    continental shelf: 200 nm
    Climate:
    tropical; hot and humid; wet season May to November
    Terrain:
    varying topography from the high, mountainous main island of Babelthuap to low, coral islands usually fringed by large barrier reefs
    Elevation:
    0 m lowest point: Pacific Ocean
    242 highest point: Mount Ngerchelchuus
    Natural resources:
    forests, minerals (especially gold), marine products, deep-seabed minerals
    Land use:
    agricultural land: 10.8% (2011 est.)
    arable land: 2.2% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 4.3% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 4.3% (2011 est.)
    forest: 87.6% (2011 est.)
    other: 1.6% (2011 est.)
    Irrigated land:
    0 sq km (2012)
    Population distribution:
    most of the population is located on the southern end of the main island of Babelthuap
    Natural hazards:
    typhoons (June to December)
    Environment - current issues:
    inadequate facilities for disposal of solid waste; threats to the marine ecosystem from sand and coral dredging, illegal and destructive fishing practices, and overfishing; coral bleaching; drought
    Environment - international agreements:
    party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands, Whaling
    signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
    Geography - note:
    westernmost archipelago in the Caroline chain, consists of six island groups totaling more than 300 islands; includes World War II battleground of Beliliou (Peleliu) and world-famous Rock Islands
  • People and Society :: Palau
  • Population:
    21,516 (July 2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 219
    Nationality:
    noun: Palauan(s)
    adjective: Palauan
    Ethnic groups:
    Palauan (Micronesian with Malayan and Melanesian admixtures) 73%, Carolinian 2%, Asian 21.7%, caucasian 1.2%, other 2.1% (2015 est.)
    Languages:
    Palauan (official on most islands) 65.2%, other Micronesian 1.9%, English (official) 19.1%, Filipino 9.9%, Chinese 1.2%, other 2.8% (2015 est.)

    note: Sonsoralese is official in Sonsoral; Tobian is official in Tobi; Angaur and Japanese are official in Angaur

    Religions:
    Roman Catholic 45.3%, Protestant 34.9% (includes Evangelical 26.4%, Seventh Day Adventist 6.9%, Assembly of God .9%, Baptist .7%), Modekngei 5.7% (indigenous to Palau), Muslim 3%, Mormon 1.5%, other 9.7% (2015 est.)
    Age structure:
    0-14 years: 19.37% (male 2,149 /female 2,019)
    15-24 years: 16.4% (male 1,768 /female 1,760)
    25-54 years: 45.74% (male 6,016 /female 3,826)
    55-64 years: 9.99% (male 765 /female 1,384)
    65 years and over: 8.5% (male 464 /female 1,365) (2018 est.)
    population pyramid: population pyramid
    Median age:
    total: 33.6 years
    male: 32.8 years
    female: 35.3 years (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 92
    Population growth rate:
    0.4% (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 162
    Birth rate:
    11.3 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 173
    Death rate:
    8.2 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 85
    Net migration rate:
    0.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 60
    Population distribution:
    most of the population is located on the southern end of the main island of Babelthuap
    Urbanization:
    urban population: 79.9% of total population (2018)
    rate of urbanization: 1.77% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
    Major urban areas - population:
    299 MELEKEOK (capital) (2018)
    Sex ratio:
    at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    0-14 years: 1.07 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    15-24 years: 1 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    25-54 years: 1.57 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    55-64 years: 0.54 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    65 years and over: 0.37 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    total population: 1.09 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    Mother's mean age at first birth:
    Infant mortality rate:
    total: 10.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    male: 11.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    female: 8.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 133
    Life expectancy at birth:
    total population: 73.6 years (2018 est.)
    male: 70.4 years (2018 est.)
    female: 77 years (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 136
    Total fertility rate:
    1.7 children born/woman (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 171
    Health expenditures:
    9% of GDP (2014)
    country comparison to the world: 40
    Physicians density:
    1.19 physicians/1,000 population (2014)
    Hospital bed density:
    4.8 beds/1,000 population (2010)
    Drinking water source:
    improved: urban: 97% of population (2011 est.)
    rural: 86% of population (2011 est.)
    total: 95.3% of population (2011 est.)
    unimproved: urban: 3% of population (2011 est.)
    rural: 14% of population (2011 est.)
    total: 4.7% of population (2011 est.)
    Sanitation facility access:
    improved: urban: 100% of population (2015 est.)
    rural: 100% of population (2015 est.)
    total: 100% of population (2015 est.)
    unimproved: urban: 0% of population (2015 est.)
    rural: 0% of population (2015 est.)
    total: 0% of population (2015 est.)
    HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
    NA
    HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
    NA
    HIV/AIDS - deaths:
    NA
    Obesity - adult prevalence rate:
    55.3% (2016)
    country comparison to the world: 3
    Literacy:
    definition: age 15 and over can read and write (2015 est.)
    total population: 96.6% (2015 est.)
    male: 96.8% (2015 est.)
    female: 86% (2015 est.)
    School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
    total: 17 years (2013)
    male: 16 years (2013)
    female: 18 years (2013)
    Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:
  • Government :: Palau
  • Country name:
    conventional long form: Republic of Palau
    conventional short form: Palau
    local long form: Beluu er a Belau
    local short form: Belau
    former: Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, Palau District
    etymology: from the Palauan name for the islands, Belau, which likely derives from the Palauan word "beluu" meaning "village"
    Government type:
    presidential republic in free association with the US
    Capital:
    name: Ngerulmud
    geographic coordinates: 7 30 N, 134 37 E
    time difference: UTC+9 (14 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
    Administrative divisions:
    16 states; Aimeliik, Airai, Angaur, Hatohobei, Kayangel, Koror, Melekeok, Ngaraard, Ngarchelong, Ngardmau, Ngatpang, Ngchesar, Ngeremlengui, Ngiwal, Peleliu, Sonsorol
    Independence:
    1 October 1994 (from the US-administered UN trusteeship)
    National holiday:
    Constitution Day, 9 July (1981), day of a national referendum to pass the new constitutionIndependence Day, 1 October (1994)
    Constitution:
    history: ratified 9 July 1980, effective 1 January 1981 (2017)
    amendments: proposed by a constitutional convention (held at least once every 15 years with voter approval), by public petition of at least 25 percent of eligible voters, or by a resolution adopted by at least three-fourths of National Congress members; passage requires approval by a majority of votes in at least three-fourths of the states in the next regular general election; amended 1992, 2004, 2008 (2017)
    International law organization participation:
    has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
    Citizenship:
    citizenship by birth: no
    citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Palau
    dual citizenship recognized: no
    residency requirement for naturalization: note - no procedure for naturalization
    Suffrage:
    18 years of age; universal
    Executive branch:
    chief of state: President Tommy REMENGESAU (since 17 January 2013); Vice President Antonio BELLS (since 17 January 2013); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
    head of government: President Tommy REMENGESAU (since 17 January 2013); Vice President Antonio BELLS (since 17 January 2013)
    cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the Senate; also includes the vice president; the Council of Chiefs consists of chiefs from each of the states who advise the president on issues concerning traditional laws, customs, and their relationship to the constitution and laws of Palau
    elections/appointments: president and vice president directly elected on separate ballots by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 4-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 1 November 2016 (next to be held in November 2020)
    election results: Tommy REMENGESAU reelected president; percent of vote - Tommy REMENGESAU (independent) 51.3%, Surangel WHIPPS, Jr.(independent) 48.7%; Antonio BELLS elected vice president
    Legislative branch:
    description: bicameral National Congress or Olbiil Era Kelulau consists of:
    Senate (13 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by majority vote to serve 4-year terms)
    House of Delegates (16 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 4-year terms)
    elections:
    Senate - last held on 1 November 2016 (next to be held in November 2020)
    House of Delegates - last held on 1 November 2016 (next to be held in November 2020)
    election results:
    Senate - percent of vote - NA; seats - independent 13
    House of Delegates - percent of vote - NA; seats - independent 16
    Judicial branch:
    highest courts: Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice and 3 associate justices organized into appellate trial divisions; also within the Supreme Court organization are the Common Pleas and Land Courts)
    judge selection and term of office: justices nominated by a 7-member independent body consisting of judges, presidential appointees, and lawyers and appointed by the president; judges appointed until mandatory retirement at age 65
    subordinate courts: National Court and other 'inferior' courts
    Political parties and leaders:
    none
    International organization participation:
    ACP, ADB, AOSIS, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, IOC, IPU, MIGA, OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, WHO
    Diplomatic representation in the US:
    chief of mission: Ambassador Hersey KYOTA (since 12 November 1997)
    chancery: 1701 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20036
    telephone: [1] (202) 452-6814
    FAX: [1] (202) 452-6281
    consulate(s): Tamuning (Guam)
    Diplomatic representation from the US:
    chief of mission: Ambassador Amy HYATT (since 9 March 2015)
    embassy: Koror (no street address)
    mailing address: P. O. Box 6028, Koror, Republic of Palau 96940
    telephone: [680] 587-2920
    FAX: [680] 587-2911
    Flag description:
    light blue with a large yellow disk shifted slightly to the hoist side; the blue color represents the ocean, the disk represents the moon; Palauans consider the full moon to be the optimum time for human activity; it is also considered a symbol of peace, love, and tranquility
    National symbol(s):
    bai (native meeting house); national colors: blue, yellow
    National anthem:
    name: "Belau rekid" (Our Palau)
    lyrics/music: multiple/Ymesei O. EZEKIEL

    note: adopted 1980

  • Economy :: Palau
  • Economy - overview:

    The economy is dominated by tourism, fishing, and subsistence agriculture. Government is a major employer of the work force relying on financial assistance from the US under the Compact of Free Association (Compact) with the US that took effect after the end of the UN trusteeship on 1 October 1994. The US provided Palau with roughly $700 million in aid for the first 15 years following commencement of the Compact in 1994 in return for unrestricted access to its land and waterways for strategic purposes. The population enjoys a per capita income roughly double that of the Philippines and much of Micronesia.

    Business and leisure tourist arrivals reached a record 167,966 in 2015, a 14.4% increase over the previous year, but fell to 138,408 in 2016. Long-run prospects for tourism have been bolstered by the expansion of air travel in the Pacific, the rising prosperity of industrial East Asia, and the willingness of foreigners to finance infrastructure development. Proximity to Guam, the region's major destination for tourists from East Asia, and a regionally competitive tourist infrastructure enhance Palau's advantage as a destination.

    GDP (purchasing power parity):
    $264 million (2017 est.)
    $274.2 million (2016 est.)
    $274.1 million (2015 est.)

    note: data are in 2017 dollars

    country comparison to the world: 217
    GDP (official exchange rate):
    $292 million (2017 est.) (2017 est.)
    GDP - real growth rate:
    -3.7% (2017 est.)
    0% (2016 est.)
    10.1% (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 215
    GDP - per capita (PPP):
    $14,700 (2017 est.)
    $15,200 (2016 est.)
    $15,200 (2015 est.)

    note: data are in 2017 dollars

    country comparison to the world: 115
    Gross national saving:
    48.7% of GDP (2016 est.)
    50.1% of GDP (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 2
    GDP - composition, by end use:
    household consumption: 60.5% (2016 est.)
    government consumption: 27.2% (2016 est.)
    investment in fixed capital: 22.7% (2016 est.)
    investment in inventories: 1.9% (2016 est.)
    exports of goods and services: 55.2% (2016 est.)
    imports of goods and services: -67.6% (2016 est.)
    GDP - composition, by sector of origin:
    agriculture: 3% (2016 est.)
    industry: 19% (2016 est.)
    services: 78% (2016 est.)
    Agriculture - products:
    coconuts, cassava (manioc, tapioca), sweet potatoes; fish, pigs, chickens, eggs, bananas, papaya, breadfruit, calamansi, soursop, Polynesian chestnuts, Polynesian almonds, mangoes, taro, guava, beans, cucumbers, squash/pumpkins (various), eggplant, green onions, kangkong (watercress), cabbages (various), radishes, betel nuts, melons, peppers, noni, okra
    Industries:
    tourism, fishing, subsistence agriculture
    Industrial production growth rate:
    NA
    Labor force:
    11,610 (2016)
    country comparison to the world: 216
    Labor force - by occupation:
    agriculture: 86.4% (2016)
    industry: 12.4% (2016)
    services: 86.4% (2016)
    Unemployment rate:
    1.7% (2015 est.)
    4.1% (2012)
    country comparison to the world: 15
    Population below poverty line:
    24.9% NA (2006)
    Household income or consumption by percentage share:
    lowest 10%: NA
    highest 10%: NA
    Budget:
    revenues: 193 million (2012 est.)
    expenditures: 167.3 million (2012 est.)
    Taxes and other revenues:
    66.1% (of GDP) (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 6
    Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
    8.8% (of GDP) (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 3
    Public debt:
    24.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
    21.6% of GDP (2015)
    country comparison to the world: 179
    Fiscal year:
    1 October - 30 September
    Inflation rate (consumer prices):
    0.9% (2017 est.)
    -1% (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 46
    Market value of publicly traded shares:

    NA

    Current account balance:
    -$53 million (2017 est.)
    -$36 million (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 79
    Exports:
    $23.17 billion (2017 est.)
    $14.8 million (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 70
    Exports - commodities:
    shellfish, tuna, other fish (many species)
    Exports - partners:
    Japan 51.3%, US 15.8%, India 13.8%, Guam 8% (2017)
    Imports:
    $4.079 billion (2017 est.)
    $156.8 million (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 138
    Imports - commodities:
    machinery and equipment, fuels, metals; foodstuffs
    Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
    $0 (31 December 2017 est.)
    $580.9 million (31 December 2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 193
    Imports - partners:
    US 33.4%, Guam 15.8%, Japan 15.7%, China 13.5%, South Korea 5.3% (2017)
    Debt - external:
    $18.38 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
    $16.47 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 94
    Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
    (31 December 2009 est.)
    Exchange rates:

    the US dollar is used

  • Energy :: Palau
  • Electricity access:
    population without electricity: 8,752 (2012)
    electrification - total population: 59% (2012)
    electrification - urban areas: 62% (2012)
    electrification - rural areas: 45% (2012)
  • Communications :: Palau
  • Telephones - fixed lines:
    total subscriptions: 7,204 (July 2016 est.)
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 34 (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 201
    Telephones - mobile cellular:
    total subscriptions: 24,000 (July 2016 est.)
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 112 (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 208
    Telephone system:
    general assessment: well-developed mobile sector recently boosted by satellite network capacity upgrades (2016)
    domestic: fixed-line and mobile-cellular services available with a combined subscribership of over 140 per 100 persons (2016)
    international: country code - 680; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean) (2016)
    Broadcast media:
    no broadcast TV stations; a cable TV network covers the major islands and provides access to 4 local cable stations, rebroadcasts (on a delayed basis) of a number of US stations, as well as access to a number of real-time satellite TV channels; about a half dozen radio stations (1 government-owned) (2017)
    Internet country code:
    .pw
    Internet users:
    total: 7,650 (July 2016 est.)
    percent of population: 36% (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 212
  • Transportation :: Palau
  • National air transport system:
    number of registered air carriers: 1 (2015)
    inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 1 (2015)
    Airports:
    3 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 196
    Airports - with paved runways:
    total: 1 (2017)
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2017)
    Airports - with unpaved runways:
    total: 2 (2013)
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (2013)
    Railways:
    Ports and terminals:
    major seaport(s): Koror
  • Military and Security :: Palau
  • Military branches:
    no regular military forces; Palau National Police (2009)
    Military - note:
    defense is the responsibility of the US; under a Compact of Free Association between Palau and the US, the US military is granted access to the islands for 50 years, but it has not stationed any military forces there (2008)
  • Transnational Issues :: Palau
  • Disputes - international:
    maritime delineation negotiations continue with Philippines, Indonesia