Country List | World Factbook Home
CIA Seal  World Factbook Seal Palau
Flag 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
Geographic coordinates:
7 30 N, 134 30 E
Map references:
total: 458 sq km
land: 458 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly more than 2.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries:
0 km
1,519 km
Maritime claims:
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
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
Land use:
arable land: 8.7%
permanent crops: 4.35%
other: 86.95% (2001)
Irrigated land:
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
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection
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 Palau
20,303 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 26.4% (male 2,768/female 2,601)
15-64 years: 69% (male 7,565/female 6,436)
65 years and over: 4.6% (male 443/female 490) (2005 est.)
Median age:
total: 31.43 years
male: 32.4 years
female: 30.36 years (2005 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.39% (2005 est.)
Birth rate:
18.37 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Death rate:
6.85 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Net migration rate:
2.36 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.18 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.9 male(s)/female
total population: 1.13 male(s)/female (2005 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 14.84 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 16.6 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 12.99 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 70.14 years
male: 66.98 years
female: 73.48 years (2005 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.46 children born/woman (2005 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: Palauan(s)
adjective: Palauan
Ethnic groups:
Palauan (Micronesian with Malayan and Melanesian admixtures) 69.9%, Carolinian 1.4%, other Micronesian 1.1%, Filipino 15.3%, Chinese 4.9%, other Asian 2.4%, white 1.9%, 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 religion 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.)
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: Palau District (Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands)
Government type:
constitutional government in free association with the US; the Compact of Free Association entered into force 1 October 1994
Koror; note - a new capital is being built about 20 km northeast of Koror
Administrative divisions:
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)
National holiday:
Constitution Day, 9 July (1979)
1 January 1981
Legal system:
based on Trust Territory laws, acts of the legislature, municipal, common, and customary laws
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Tommy Esang REMENGESAU, Jr. (since 19 January 2001) and 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) and Vice President Camsek CHIN (since 1 January 2005); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Cabinet
elections: president and vice president elected on separate tickets by popular vote for four-year terms; election last held 2 November 2004 (next to be held November 2008)
election results: Tommy Esang REMENGESAU, Jr. reelected president; percent of vote - Tommy Esang REMENGESAU, Jr. 64%, Polycarp BASILIUS 33%; Elias Camsek CHIN elected vice president; percent of vote - Elias Camsek CHIN 70%, Sandra PIERANTOZZI 29%
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)
elections: Senate - last held 2 November 2004 (next to be held November 2008); House of Delegates - last held 2 November 2004 (next to be held November 2008)
election results: Senate - percent of vote - NA%; seats - independents 9 (four new members elected); House of Delegates - percent of vote - NA%; seats - independents 16 (one new member elected)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court; National Court; Court of Common Pleas
Political parties and leaders:
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Hersey KYOTA
chancery: 1800 K Street NW, Suite 714, Washington, DC 20006
telephone: [1] (202) 452-6814
FAX: [1] (202) 452-6281
consulate(s): Tamuning (Guam)
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: US ambassador to the Philippines is accredited to Palau
embassy: Koror (no street address)
mailing address: P. O. Box 6028, Republic of Palau 96940
telephone: [680] 488-2920, 2990
FAX: [680] 488-2911
Flag description:
light blue with a large yellow disk (representing the moon) shifted slightly to the hoist side
Economy Palau
Economy - overview:
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. Business and tourist arrivals numbered 63,000 in 2003. The population enjoys a per capita income twice 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 (purchasing power parity):
$174 million
note: GDP estimate includes US subsidy (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
1% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $9,000 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: NA
industry: NA
services: NA
Labor force:
9,845 (2000)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 20%, industry NA, services NA (1990)
Unemployment rate:
2.3% (2000 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA
highest 10%: NA
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
3.4% (2000 est.)
revenues: $57.7 million
expenditures: $80.8 million, including capital expenditures of $17.1 million (FY98/99 est.)
Agriculture - products:
coconuts, copra, cassava (tapioca), sweet potatoes
tourism, craft items (from shell, wood, pearls), construction, garment making
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production by source:
$18 million f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Exports - commodities:
shellfish, tuna, copra, garments
Exports - partners:
US, Japan, Singapore (2000)
$99 million f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, fuels, metals; foodstuffs
Imports - partners:
US, Guam, Japan, Singapore, South Korea (2000)
Debt - external:
$0 (FY99/00)
Economic aid - recipient:
$155.8 million ; note - the Compact of Free Association with the US, entered into after the end of the UN trusteeship on 1 October 1994, provides Palau with up to $700 million in US aid over 15 years in return for furnishing military facilities
Currency (code):
US dollar (USD)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
the US dollar is used
Fiscal year:
1 October - 30 September
Communications Palau
Telephones - main lines in use:
6,700 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
1,000 (2002)
Telephone system:
general assessment: NA
domestic: NA
international: country code - 680; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 4, shortwave 1 (2002)
12,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
1 (cable) (2005)
11,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2002)
Transportation Palau
total: 61 km
paved: 36 km
unpaved: 25 km
Ports and harbors:
3 (2004 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2004 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (2004 est.)
Military Palau
Military branches:
no regular military forces; Police Force
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
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
Transnational Issues Palau
Disputes - international:
border delineation disputes being negotiated with Philippines, Indonesia

This page was last updated on 20 October, 2005