Country Summary

2022 population pyramid



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.



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


tropical; hot and humid; wet season May to November

Natural resources

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

People and Society


21,779 (2023 est.)

Ethnic groups

Palauan (Micronesian with Malayan and Melanesian admixtures) 73%, Carolinian 2%, Asian 21.7%, Caucasian 1.2%, other 2.1% (2015 est.)


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.)


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%, Church of Jesus Christ 1.5%, other 9.7% (2015 est.)

Population growth rate

0.39% (2023 est.)


Government type

presidential republic in free association with the US


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)


Economic overview

high-income Pacific island economy; major subsistence agriculture and fishing industries; reliant on US aid; strong tourism has prompted sustainability oversight mechanism; severely disrupted by COVID-19

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$248.468 million (2021 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$13,800 (2021 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


tourism, fishing, subsistence agriculture


$12.07 million (2021 est.)

Exports - partners

Japan 70%, South Korea 15%, United States 7% (2019)

Exports - commodities

fish, computers, broadcasting equipment, office machinery/parts, scrap vessels (2019)


$180.38 million (2021 est.)

Imports - partners

South Korea 19%, China 18%, Taiwan 17%, United States 17%, Japan 16% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, fish, cars, broadcasting equipment, modeling instruments (2019)

Exchange rates

1 (2021 est.)

Page last updated: Wednesday, February 22, 2023