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

Map references



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: NA
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


21,347 (July 2016 est.)


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.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 19.93% (male 2,196/female 2,059)
15-24 years: 17.02% (male 1,814/female 1,819)
25-54 years: 46.03% (male 5,997/female 3,829)
55-64 years: 9.35% (male 697/female 1,299)
65 years and over: 7.67% (male 429/female 1,208) (2016 est.)

Median age

total: 33.3 years
male: 32.7 years
female: 34.7 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

0.39% (2016 est.)

Birth rate

11.2 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

8 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

0.7 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Health expenditures

9% of GDP (2014)


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: 1 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.57 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.54 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.37 male(s)/female
total population: 1.09 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 10.9 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 12.4 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 9.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 73.1 years
male: 69.9 years
female: 76.5 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.71 children born/woman (2016 est.)

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

47.1% (2014)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.5%
male: 99.5%
female: 99.6% (2015 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 17 years
male: 16 years
female: 18 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

presidential republic in free association with the US


name: Ngerulmud
geographic coordinates: 7 30 N, 134 37 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 (1981), day of a national referendum to pass the new constitution; Independence Day, 1 October (1994)


ratified 9 July 1980, effective 1 January 1981; amended 1992, 2004, 2008 (2016)

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 1 November 2016 (next to be held in November 2020)
election results: Tommy REMENGESAU elected president; percent of vote - Tommy REMENGESAU 51.3%, Surangel WHIPPS, Jr. 48.7%; 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


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Hersey KYOTA (since 12 November 1997)
chancery: 1701 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20036
telephone: [1] (202) 452-6814
FAX: [1] (202) 452-6281
consulate(s): Tamuning (Guam)

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Helen P. REED-ROWE (since 27 September 2013)
embassy: Koror (no street address)
mailing address: P. O. Box 6028, Koror, Republic of Palau 96940
telephone: [680] 587-2920
FAX: [680] 587-2911

National symbol(s)

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

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 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 U

Business and leisure tourist arrivals numbered over 125,000 in fiscal year 2014, a 13.4% increase over the previous year. Long-run prospects for tourism have been bolstered by the expansion of air travel in the Pacific, the rising prosperity of industrial

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$276 million (2016 est.)
$276 million (2015 est.)
$252.3 million (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$296 million (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

0% (2016 est.)
9.4% (2015 est.)
4.2% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$15,300 (2016 est.)
$15,300 (2015 est.)
$14,000 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

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

10,470 (2014)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 20%
industry: NA%
services: NA% (1990)

Unemployment rate

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

41.8% of GDP (2012 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

8.8% of GDP (2012 est.)

Fiscal year

1 October - 30 September

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

2% (2016 est.)
2.2% (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities

machinery and equipment, fuels, metals; foodstuffs

Market value of publicly traded shares


Current account balance

-$16 million (2016 est.)
-$1 million (2015 est.)


$19.1 million (2014 est.)
$14.4 million (2013 est.)

Exports - commodities

shellfish, tuna, copra, garments


$177.7 million (2014 est.)
$146.5 million (2013 est.)

Debt - external

$18.38 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$16.47 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Exchange rates

the US dollar is used


Electricity - access

population without electricity: 8,752
electrification - total population: 59%
electrification - urban areas: 62%
electrification - rural areas: 45% (2012)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 7,204
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 34 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 24,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 112 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

domestic: fixed-line and mobile-cellular services available with a combined subscribership of over 140 per 100 persons
international: country code - 680; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean) (2015)

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 governm (2009)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 7,650
percent of population: 36.0% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 1
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 1 (2015)


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 branches

no regular military forces; Palau National Police (2009)

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, but it has not stationed any military forces there (2008)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

maritime delineation negotiations continue with Philippines, Indonesia