Palau facts on every entity in the world

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.



Oceania, group of islands in the North Pacific Ocean, southeast of the Philippines

Geographic coordinates

7.30° N, 134.30° E

Area 198/257

total: 459 sq km

land: 459 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 topography from the high, mountainous main island of Babelthuap to low, coral islands usually fringed by large barrier reefs


mean elevation:

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

agricultural land: 10.8%

arable land 2.2%; permanent crops 4.3%; permanent pasture 4.3%

forest: 87.6%

other: 1.6% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

0 sq km (2012)

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, Wetlands, Whaling

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 and Society


noun: Palauan(s)

adjective: Palauan

Ethnic groups

Palauan (Micronesian with Malayan and Melanesian admixtures) 72.5%, Carolinian 1%, other Micronesian 2.4%, Filipino 16.3%, Chinese 1.6%, Vietnamese 1.6%, other Asian 3.4%, white 0.9%, other 0.3% (2005 est.)


Palauan (official on most islands) 66.6%, Carolinian 0.7%, other Micronesian 0.7%, English (official) 15.5%, Filipino 10.8%, Chinese 1.8%, other Asian 2.6%, other 1.3%

note: Sonsoral (Sonsoralese and English are official), Tobi (Tobi and English are official), and Angaur (Angaur, Japanese, and English are official) (2005 est.)


Roman Catholic 49.4%, Protestant 30.9% (includes Protestant (general) 23.1%, Seventh Day Adventist 5.3%, and other Protestant 2.5%), Modekngei 8.7% (indigenous to Palau), Jehovah's Witnesses 1.1%, other 8.8%, none or unspecified 1.1% (2005 est.)

Population 220/238

21,265 (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 20.26% (male 2,225/female 2,084)

15-24 years: 17.18% (male 1,819/female 1,834)

25-54 years: 46.21% (male 5,992/female 3,834)

55-64 years: 9.03% (male 667/female 1,253)

65 years and over: 7.32% (male 418/female 1,139) (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 33.2 years

male: 32.6 years

female: 34.4 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 167/233

0.38% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 178/224

11.05 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 100/225

7.99 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 68/222

0.71 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)


urban population: 87.1% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 1.66% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

MELEKEOK (capital) 299 (2012)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.07 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 0.99 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.56 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.53 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.37 male(s)/female

total population: 1.1 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate 129/224

total: 11.15 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 12.67 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 9.53 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 135/224

total population: 72.87 years

male: 69.69 years

female: 76.23 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 170/224

1.71 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Health expenditures 28/191

9.9% of GDP (2013)

Physicians density

1.38 physicians/1,000 population (2010)

Hospital bed density

4.8 beds/1,000 population (2010)

Drinking water source


urban: 97% of population

rural: 86% of population

total: 95.3% of population


urban: 3% of population

rural: 14% of population

total: 4.7% of population (2011 est.)

Sanitation facility access


urban: 100% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population


urban: 0% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Obesity - adult prevalence rate 7/191

47.1% (2014)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 14 years

male: 14 years

female: 14 years (2013)


Country name

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

etymology: from the Palauan name for the islands, Belau, which likely derives from the Palauan word "beluu" meaning "village"

Government type

constitutional government in free association with the US; the Compact of Free Association entered into force on 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)

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), day of a national referendum to pass the new constitution


ratified 9 July 1980, effective 1 January 1981; amended 1992, 2004, last in 2008 (2015)

Legal system

mixed legal system of civil, common, and customary law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Palau

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: note - no procedure for naturalization


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Tommy REMENGESAU (since 17 January 2013); Vice President Antonio BELLS (since 17 January 2013); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government

head of government: President Tommy REMENGESAU (since 17 January 2013); Vice President Antonio BELLS (since 17 January 2013)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the Senate; also includes the vice president; the Council of Chiefs consists of chiefs from each of the states who advise the president on issues concerning traditional laws, customs, and their relationship to the constitution and laws of Palau

elections/appointments: president and vice president directly elected on separate ballots by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 4-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 6 November 2012 (next to be held in November 2016)

election results: Tommy REMENGESAU elected president; percent of vote - Tommy REMENGESAU 58%, Johnson TORIBIONG 42%; Antonio BELLS elected vice president

Legislative branch

description: bicameral National Congress or Olbiil Era Kelulau consists of the Senate (9 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by majority vote to serve 4-year terms) and the House of Delegates (16 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 4-year terms)

elections: Senate - last held on 6 November 2012 (next to be held in November 2016); House of Delegates - last held on 6 November 2012 (next to be held in November 2016)

election results: Senate - percent of vote - NA; seats - independent 9; House of Delegates - percent of vote - NA; seats - independent 16

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice and 3 associate justices organized into appellate trial divisions; also within the Supreme Court organization are the Common Pleas and Land Courts)

judge selection and term of office: justices nominated by a 7-member independent body consisting of judges, presidential appointees, and lawyers, and appointed by the president; judges appointed until mandatory retirement at age 65

subordinate courts: National Court and other 'inferior' courts

Political parties and leaders


Political pressure groups and leaders


International organization participation


Flag description

light blue with a large yellow disk shifted slightly to the hoist side; the blue color represents the ocean, the disk represents the moon; Palauans consider the full moon to be the optimum time for human activity; it is also considered a symbol of peace, love, and tranquility

National symbol(s)

bai (native meeting house); national colors: blue, yellow

National anthem

name: "Belau rekid" (Our Palau)

lyrics/music: multiple/Ymesei O. EZEKIEL

note: adopted 1980


Economy - overview

The economy consists of tourism and other services such as trade, subsistence agriculture, and fishing. Government is a major employer of the work force relying on financial assistance from the US under the Compact of Free Association (Compact) with the US. The Compact took effect, after the end of the UN trusteeship on 1 October 1994. The US provided Palau with roughly $700 million in aid for the first 15 years following commencement of the Compact in 1994 in return for unrestricted access to its land and waterways for strategic purposes. Business and leisure tourist arrivals numbered over 125,000 in fiscal year 2014, a 13.4% increase over the previous year. The population enjoys a per capita income roughly double that of the Philippines and much of Micronesia. Long-run prospects for tourism have been bolstered by the expansion of air travel in the Pacific, the rising prosperity of industrial East Asia, and the willingness of foreigners to finance infrastructure development. Proximity to Guam, the region's major destination for tourists from East Asia, and a regionally competitive tourist infrastructure enhance Palau's advantage as a destination.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 217/230

$262.6 million (2015 est.)

$252.5 million (2014 est.)

$240.7 million (2013 est.)

note: GDP estimate includes US subsidy

GDP (official exchange rate)

$261 million (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 66/225

4% (2015 est.)

4.9% (2014 est.)

-1.8% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 110/230

$14,800 (2015 est.)

$14,300 (2014 est.)

$13,600 (2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 3.2%

industry: 20%

services: 76.8% (2012 est.)

Agriculture - products

coconuts, copra, cassava (manioc, tapioca), sweet potatoes; fish


tourism, craft items (from shell, wood, pearls), construction, garment making

Industrial production growth rate


Labor force 218/233

10,470 (2014)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 20%

industry: NA%

services: NA% (1990)

Unemployment rate 42/207

4.2% (2005 est.)

Population below poverty line


Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%

highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $123.6 million

expenditures: $97.53 million (2012 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 20/219

47.4% of GDP (2012 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 4/220

10% of GDP (2012 est.)

Fiscal year

1 October - 30 September

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 101/226

1.8% (2015 est.)

4% (2014 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

Current account balance 56/197

-$21 million (2015 est.)

-$32 million (2014 est.)

Exports 210/224

$19.1 million (2014 est.)

$14.4 million (2013 est.)

Exports - commodities

shellfish, tuna, copra, garments

Imports 208/223

$177.7 million (2014 est.)

$146.5 million (2013 est.)

Imports - commodities

machinery and equipment, fuels, metals; foodstuffs

Debt - external 88/206

$18.38 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

$16.47 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Exchange rates

the US dollar is used


Telephones - fixed lines 203/219

total subscriptions: 7,100

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 34 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 210/217

total: 19,100

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 90 (2014 est.)

Telephone system

domestic: fixed-line and mobile-cellular services available with a combined subscribership of roughly 100 per 100 persons

international: country code - 680; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean) (2009)

Broadcast media

no TV stations; a cable TV network covers the major islands and provides access to rebroadcasts, on a delayed basis, of a number of US stations, as well as access to a number of real-time satellite TV channels; about a half dozen radio stations (1 government-owned) (2009)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 1, FM 4, shortwave 1 (2001)

Television broadcast stations

1 (cable) (2005)

Internet country code


Internet hosts 231/232

4 (2012)


Airports 194/236

3 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 2

1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (2013)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Koror

Military and Security

Military branches

no regular military forces; Palau National Police (2009)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

maritime delineation negotiations continue with Philippines, Indonesia