Facts about Palau

World Facts Index

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 of Palau

Location:
Oceania, group of islands in the North Pacific Ocean, southeast of the Philippines
Coordinates:
7 30 N, 134 30 E
Area:
total: 458 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 458 sq km
Area comparative:
slightly more than 2.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries:
0 km
Coastline:
1,519 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive fishing zone: 12 NM
territorial sea: 3 NM
extended fishing zone: 200 NM
Climate:
wet season May to November; hot and humid
Terrain:
varying geologically from the high, mountainous main island of Babelthuap to low, coral islands usually fringed by large barrier reefs
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Ngerchelchuus 242 m
Natural resources:
forests, minerals (especially gold), marine products, deep-seabed minerals
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 fishing practices, and overfishing
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

Population of Palau

Population:
21,093 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 26.3% (male 2,789/female 2,622)
15-64 years: 69.1% (male 7,664/female 6,549)
65 years and over: 4.6% (male 453/female 502)
Median age:
31.7 years
Growth rate:
1.31%
Infant mortality:
14.46 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 70.42 years
male: 67.26 years
female: 73.77 years
Fertility rate:
2.46 children born/woman
Nationality:
noun: Palauan(s)
adjective: Palauan
Ethnic groups:
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%
Religions:
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 religion 3.1%, unspecified or none 16.4%
Languages:
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%
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total : 92%
male: 93%
female: 90%

Government

Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Palau
local short form: Belau
former: Palau District (Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands)
local long form: Beluu er a Belau
Government type:
constitutional government in free association with the US; the Compact of Free Association entered into force 1 October 1994
Capital:
Koror; note - a new capital is being built about 20 km northeast of Koror
Administrative divisions:
16 states; Aimeliik, Airai, Angaur, Hatobohei, Kayangel, Koror, Melekeok, Ngaraard, Ngarchelong, Ngardmau, Ngatpang, Ngchesar, Ngeremlengui, Ngiwal, Peleliu, Sonsoral
Independence:
1 October 1994 (from the US-administered UN Trusteeship)
National holiday:
Constitution Day, 9 July (1979)
Constitution:
1 January 1981
Legal system:
based on Trust Territory laws, acts of the legislature, municipal, common, and customary laws
Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Tommy Esang REMENGESAU, Jr. (since 19 January 2001); Vice President Camsek CHIN (since 1 January 2005); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Tommy Esang REMENGESAU, Jr. (since 19 January 2001); Vice President Camsek CHIN (since 1 January 2005)
cabinet: NA
elections: president and vice president elected on separate tickets by popular vote for four-year terms (eligible for a second term).
Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament 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)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court; National Court; Court of Common Pleas

Economy

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 63,000 in 2003. 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.

GDP:
$124.5 million
note: GDP estimates includes US subsidy (2004 est.)
GDP growth rate:
1%
GDP per capita:
$5,800 (2005 est.)
Inflation rate:
3.4% 
Labor force:
10,200 (2005)
Unemployment:
4.2% (2005 est.)
Industries:
tourism, craft items (from shell, wood, pearls), construction, garment making
Agriculture:
coconuts, copra, cassava (tapioca), sweet potatoes
Exports:
shellfish, tuna, copra, garments
Export partners:
US, Japan, Singapore 
Imports:
machinery and equipment, fuels, metals; foodstuffs
Import partners:
US, Guam, Japan, Singapore, South Korea 
Currency:
US dollar (USD)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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