page last updated on October 28, 2009
Flag of Palau
Location of Palau
 
Map of Palau
Introduction ::Palau
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
Oceania, group of islands in the North Pacific Ocean, southeast of the Philippines
7 30 N, 134 30 E
total: 459 sq km
country comparison to the world: 197
land: 459 sq km
water: 0 sq km
slightly more than 2.5 times the size of Washington, DC
0 km
1,519 km
territorial sea: 3 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
tropical; hot and humid; wet season May to November
varying geologically from the high, mountainous main island of Babelthuap to low, coral islands usually fringed by large barrier reefs
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Ngerchelchuus 242 m
forests, minerals (especially gold), marine products, deep-seabed minerals
arable land: 8.7%
permanent crops: 4.35%
other: 86.95% (2005)
NA
typhoons (June to December)
inadequate facilities for disposal of solid waste; threats to the marine ecosystem from sand and coral dredging, illegal fishing practices, and overfishing
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
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 ::Palau
20,796 (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 217
0-14 years: 22.9% (male 2,458/female 2,314)
15-64 years: 70.8% (male 8,207/female 6,521)
65 years and over: 6.2% (male 401/female 895) (2009 est.)
total: 32.2 years
male: 32 years
female: 32.7 years (2009 est.)
0.428% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 159
11.2 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 172
7.89 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 111
0.96 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 58
urban population: 81% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 1.8% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.26 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.45 male(s)/female
total population: 1.14 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
total: 13.14 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 136
male: 14.83 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 11.36 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
total population: 71.22 years
country comparison to the world: 129
male: 68.08 years
female: 74.54 years (2009 est.)
1.82 children born/woman (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 155
NA
NA
NA
noun: Palauan(s)
adjective: Palauan
Palauan (Micronesian with Malayan and Melanesian admixtures) 69.9%, Filipino 15.3%, Chinese 4.9%, other Asian 2.4%, white 1.9%, Carolinian 1.4%, other Micronesian 1.1%, other or unspecified 3.2% (2000 census)
Roman Catholic 41.6%, Protestant 23.3%, Modekngei 8.8% (indigenous to Palau), Seventh-Day Adventist 5.3%, Jehovah's Witness 0.9%, Latter-Day Saints 0.6%, other 3.1%, unspecified or none 16.4% (2000 census)
Palauan 64.7% official in all islands except Sonsoral (Sonsoralese and English are official), Tobi (Tobi and English are official), and Angaur (Angaur, Japanese, and English are official), Filipino 13.5%, English 9.4%, Chinese 5.7%, Carolinian 1.5%, Japanese 1.5%, other Asian 2.3%, other languages 1.5% (2000 census)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 92%
male: 93%
female: 90% (1980 est.)
total: 15 years
male: 14 years
female: 15 years (2000)
10.3% of GDP (2002)
country comparison to the world: 4
Government ::Palau
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
constitutional government in free association with the US; the Compact of Free Association entered into force 1 October 1994
name: Melekeok
geographic coordinates: 7 29 N, 134 38 E
time difference: UTC+9 (14 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
16 states; Aimeliik, Airai, Angaur, Hatohobei, Kayangel, Koror, Melekeok, Ngaraard, Ngarchelong, Ngardmau, Ngatpang, Ngchesar, Ngeremlengui, Ngiwal, Peleliu, Sonsorol
1 October 1994 (from the US-administered UN trusteeship)
Constitution Day, 9 July (1979)
1 January 1981
based on Trust Territory laws, acts of the legislature, municipal, common, and customary laws; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
chief of state: President Johnson TORIBIONG (since 15 January 2009); Vice President Kerai MARIUR (since 15 January 2009); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Johnson TORIBIONG (since 15 January 2009); Vice President Kerai MARIUR (since 15 January 2009)
cabinet: NA
elections: president and vice president elected on separate tickets by popular vote for four-year terms (eligible for a second term); election last held 4 November 2008 (next to be held in November 2012)
election results: Johnson TORIBIONG (51%) defeats Elias Camsek CHIN (49%) for president; Kerai MARIUR elected vice president
bicameral National Congress or Olbiil Era Kelulau (OEK) consists of the Senate (9 seats; members elected by popular vote on a population basis to serve four-year terms) and the House of Delegates (16 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 4 November 2008 (next to be held in November 2012); House of Delegates - last held 4 November 2008 (next to be held in November 2012)
election results: Senate - percent of vote - NA; seats - independents 9; House of Delegates - percent of vote - NA; seats - independents 16
Supreme Court; Court of Common Pleas; Land Court
none
NA
ACP, ADB, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, IMF, IOC, IPU, MIGA, OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, WHO
chief of mission: Ambassador Hersey KYOTA
chancery: 1701 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20006
telephone: [1] (202) 452-6814
FAX: [1] (202) 452-6281
consulate(s): Tamuning (Guam)
chief of mission: Charge d'Affaires Mark BEZNER
embassy: Koror (no street address)
mailing address: P. O. Box 6028, Republic of Palau 96940
telephone: [680] 488-2920, 2990
FAX: [680] 488-2911
light blue with a large yellow disk (representing the moon) shifted slightly to the hoist side
Economy ::Palau
The economy consists primarily of tourism, subsistence agriculture, and fishing. The government is the major employer of the work force relying heavily on financial assistance from the US. The Compact of Free Association with the US, entered into after the end of the UN trusteeship on 1 October 1994, provided Palau with up to $700 million in US aid for the following 15 years in return for furnishing military facilities. Business and tourist arrivals numbered 85,000 in 2007. The population enjoys a per capita income roughly 50% higher than that of the Philippines and much of Micronesia. Long-run prospects for the key tourist sector have been greatly bolstered by the expansion of air travel in the Pacific, the rising prosperity of leading East Asian countries, and the willingness of foreigners to finance infrastructure development.
$164 million (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 217
$124.5 million (2004 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP estimate includes US subsidy
$164 million (2008)
5.5% (2005 est.)
country comparison to the world: 74
$8,100 (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 119
$7,600 (2005 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
agriculture: 6.2%
industry: 12%
services: 81.8% (2003)
9,777 (2005)
country comparison to the world: 209
agriculture: 20%
industry: NA%
services: NA% (1990)
4.2% (2005 est.)
country comparison to the world: 52
NA%
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
revenues: $114.8 million
expenditures: $99.5 million (2008 est.)
2.7% (2005 est.)
country comparison to the world: 30
$NA
coconuts, copra, cassava (tapioca), sweet potatoes; fish
tourism, craft items (from shell, wood, pearls), construction, garment making
NA%
$15.09 million (FY03/04)
country comparison to the world: 60
$5.882 million (2004 est.)
country comparison to the world: 213
shellfish, tuna, copra, garments
$107.3 million (2004 est.)
country comparison to the world: 206
machinery and equipment, fuels, metals; foodstuffs
$0 (FY99/00)
country comparison to the world: 204
the US dollar is used
Communications ::Palau
7,500 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 209
12,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 211
general assessment: NA
domestic: fixed-line and mobile-cellular services available with a combined subscribership of more than 90 per 100 persons
international: country code - 680; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean) (2008)
AM 1, FM 4, shortwave 1 (2001)
1 (cable) (2005)
.pw
2 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 228
Transportation ::Palau
3 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 195
total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2009)
total: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (2009)
note: estimated to have 60 km of roads as of 1996
Koror
Military ::Palau
no regular military forces; Palau National Police (2009)
males age 16-49: 5,973 (2008 est.)
males age 16-49: 5,177
females age 16-49: 3,936 (2009 est.)
male: 207
female: 214 (2009 est.)
NA
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
maritime delineation negotiations continue with Philippines, Indonesia