Palau

Country Summary

Introduction

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

Area

total: 459 sq km
land: 459 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Climate

tropical; hot and humid; wet season May to November

Natural resources

forests, minerals (especially gold), marine products, deep-seabed minerals

People and Society

Population

21,779 (2023 est.)

Ethnic groups

Palauan (Micronesian with Malayan and Melanesian admixtures) 70.6%, Carolinian 1.2%, Asian 26.5%, other 1.7% (2020 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.)

Religions

Roman Catholic 46.9%, Protestant 30.9% (Evangelical 24.6%, Seventh Day Adventist 5%, other Protestant 1.4%), Modekngei 5.1% (indigenous to Palau), Muslim 4.9%, other 12.3% (2020 est.)

Population growth rate

0.39% (2023 est.)

Government

Government type

presidential republic in free association with the US

Capital

name: Ngerulmud

Executive branch

chief of state: President Surangel WHIPPS Jr. (since 21 January 2021); Vice President Jerrlyn Uduch Sengebau SENIOR (since 21 January 2021); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Surangel WHIPPS Jr. (since 21 January 2021); Vice President Jerrlyn Uduch Sengebau SENIOR (since 21 January 2021)

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)

Economy

Economic overview

high-income Pacific island economy; environmentally fragile; subsistence agriculture and fishing industries; US aid reliance; rebounding post-pandemic tourism industry and services sector; very high living standard and low unemployment

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$248.468 million (2021 est.)
$286.694 million (2020 est.)
$315.42 million (2019 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$13,800 (2021 est.)
$16,000 (2020 est.)
$17,600 (2019 est.)

Agricultural 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

Exports

$12.07 million (2021 est.)
$58.349 million (2020 est.)
$107.823 million (2019 est.)

Exports - partners

Japan 34%, Taiwan 16%, Turkey 16%, Italy 12%, United States 9% (2021)

Exports - commodities

computers, scrap vessels, recreational boats, scrap iron, fish, scrap copper, scrap aluminum (2021)

Imports

$180.38 million (2021 est.)
$215.97 million (2020 est.)
$226.594 million (2019 est.)

Imports - partners

China 34%, United States 21%, South Korea 12%, Japan 8%, Taiwan 6% (2021)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, boat propellers, iron structures, cars, floating docks, broadcasting equipment, prefabricated buildings (2021)

Exchange rates

1 (2021 est.)
1 (2020 est.)
1 (2019 est.)
1 (2018 est.)
1 (2017 est.)


Page last updated: Tuesday, February 20, 2024