Descriptive text is not available for this image



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
country comparison to the world: 198

Area - comparative

slightly more than 2.5 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

0 km


1,519 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12nm
exclusive economic zone: 200nm
contiguous zone: 24nm
continental shelf: 200nm


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


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% (2011 est.)
arable land: 2.2% (2011 est.)/permanent crops: 4.3% (2011 est.)/permanent pasture: 4.3% (2011 est.)
forest: 87.6% (2011 est.)
other: 1.6% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

0 sq km (2012)

Population distribution

most of the population is located on the southern end of the main island of Babelthuap

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 and destructive fishing practices, and overfishing; climate change contributes to rising sea level and coral bleaching; drought

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, 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


21,516 (July 2018 est.)
country comparison to the world: 219


noun: Palauan(s)
adjective: Palauan

Ethnic groups

Palauan (Micronesian with Malayan and Melanesian admixtures) 73%, Carolinian 2%, Asian 21.7%, caucasian 1.2%, other 2.1% (2015 est.)


Palauan (official on most islands) 65.2%, other Micronesian 1.9%, English (official) 19.1%, Filipino 9.9%, Chinese 1.2%, other 2.8% (2015 est.)
note: Sonsoralese is official in Sonsoral; Tobian is official in Tobi; Angaur and Japanese are official in Angaur


Roman Catholic 45.3%, Protestant 34.9% (includes Evangelical 26.4%, Seventh Day Adventist 6.9%, Assembly of God .9%, Baptist .7%), Modekngei 5.7% (indigenous to Palau), Muslim 3%, Mormon 1.5%, other 9.7% (2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 19.37%(male 2,149 /female 2,019)
15-24 years: 16.4%(male 1,768 /female 1,760)
25-54 years: 45.74%(male 6,016 /female 3,826)
55-64 years: 9.99%(male 765 /female 1,384)
65 years and over: 8.5%(male 464 /female 1,365) (2018 est.)
population pyramid:

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Median age

total: 33.6 years (2018 est.)
male: 32.8 years
female: 35.3 years
country comparison to the world: 92

Population growth rate

0.4% (2018 est.)
country comparison to the world: 162

Birth rate

11.3 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)
country comparison to the world: 173

Death rate

8.2 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.)
country comparison to the world: 85

Net migration rate

0.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2018 est.)
country comparison to the world: 66

Population distribution

most of the population is located on the southern end of the main island of Babelthuap


urban population: 80.5% of total population(2019)
rate of urbanization: 1.77% annual rate of change(2015-20 est.)

Major urban areas - population

277 NGERULMUD (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.57 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.55 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.34 male(s)/female
total population: 1.08 male(s)/female (2018 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 10.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
male: 11.8 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 8.8 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 133

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 73.6 years (2018 est.)
male: 70.4 years
female: 77 years
country comparison to the world: 136

Total fertility rate

1.7 children born/woman (2018 est.)
country comparison to the world: 171

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 97% of population
rural: 86% of population
total: 95.3% of population
unimproved: urban: 3% of population
rural: 14% of population
total: 4.7% of population (2011 est.)

Current Health Expenditure

11.7% (2016)

Physicians density

1.19 physicians/1,000 population (2014)

Hospital bed density

4.8 beds/1,000 population (2010)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 100% of population (2015 est.)
rural: 100% of population (2015 est.)
total: 100% of population (2015 est.)
unimproved: urban: 0% of population (2015 est.)
rural: 0% of population (2015 est.)
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

55.3% (2016)
country comparison to the world: 3

Education expenditures



definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.6%
male: 96.8%
female: 96.3% (2015)

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)
etymology: the Palauan meaning is "place of fermented 'mud'" ('mud' being the native name for the keyhole angelfish); the site of the new capitol (established in 2006) had been a large hill overlooking the ocean, Ngerulmud, on which women would communally gather to offer fermented angelfish to the gods

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)


history: ratified 9 July 1980, effective 1 January 1981
amendments: proposed by a constitutional convention (held at least once every 15 years with voter approval), by public petition of at least 25% of eligible voters, or by a resolution adopted by at least three fourths of National Congress members; passage requires approval by a majority of votes in at least three fourths of the states in the next regular general election; amended 1992, 2004, 2008 (2017)

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 Raynold OILUCH (since 19 January 2017); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Tommy REMENGESAU (since 17 January 2013); Vice President Raynold OILUCH (since 19 January 2017)
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 reelected president; percent of vote - Tommy REMENGESAU (independent) 51.3%, Surangel WHIPPS, Jr.(independent) 48.7%; Raynold OILUCH elected vice president

Legislative branch

description: bicameral National Congress or Olbiil Era Kelulau consists of:
Senate (13 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by majority vote to serve 4-year terms)
House of Delegates (16 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 4-year terms)
Senate - last held on 1 November 2016 (next to be held in November 2020)
House of Delegates - last held on 1 November 2016 (next to be held in November 2020)
election results:
Senate - percent of vote - NA; seats - independent 13; composition - men 11, women 2, percent of women 15.4%
House of Delegates - percent of vote - NA; seats - independent 16; composition - men 14, women 2, percent of women 12.5%; note - total National Congress percent of women 13.8%

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice and 3 associate justices organized into appellate trial divisions; the Supreme Court organization also includes 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 can serve until mandatory retirement at age 65
subordinate courts: National Court and other 'inferior' courts

Political parties and leaders


International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

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 Amy HYATT (since 9 March 2015)
telephone: [680] 587-2920
embassy: Omsangel/Beklelachieb, Airai, Palau 96940
mailing address: P. O. Box 6028, Koror, Republic of Palau 96940
FAX: [680] 587-2911

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 is dominated by tourism, fishing, and subsistence agriculture. 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 that 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. The population enjoys a per capita income roughly double that of the Philippines and much of Micronesia.Business and leisure tourist arrivals reached a record 167,966 in 2015, a 14.4% increase over the previous year, but fell to 138,408 in 2016. 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)

$264 million (2017 est.)
$274.2 million (2016 est.)
$274.1 million (2015 est.)
note: data are in 2017 dollars
country comparison to the world: 217

GDP (official exchange rate)

$292 million (2017 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

-3.7% (2017 est.)
0% (2016 est.)
10.1% (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 215

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$14,700 (2017 est.)
$15,200 (2016 est.)
$15,200 (2015 est.)
note: data are in 2017 dollars
country comparison to the world: 115

Gross national saving

48.7% of GDP (2016 est.)
50.1% of GDP (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 60.5% (2016 est.)
government consumption: 27.2% (2016 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 22.7% (2016 est.)
investment in inventories: 1.9% (2016 est.)
exports of goods and services: 55.2% (2016 est.)
imports of goods and services: -67.6% (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 3% (2016 est.)
industry: 19% (2016 est.)
services: 78% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products

coconuts, cassava (manioc, tapioca), sweet potatoes; fish, pigs, chickens, eggs, bananas, papaya, breadfruit, calamansi, soursop, Polynesian chestnuts, Polynesian almonds, mangoes, taro, guava, beans, cucumbers, squash/pumpkins (various), eggplant, green onions, kangkong (watercress), cabbages (various), radishes, betel nuts, melons, peppers, noni, okra


tourism, fishing, subsistence agriculture

Industrial production growth rate


Labor force

11,610 (2016)
country comparison to the world: 216

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 1.2%
industry: 12.4%
services: 86.4% (2016)

Unemployment rate

1.7% (2015 est.)
4.1% (2012)
country comparison to the world: 15

Population below poverty line

24.9%NA (2006)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA
highest 10%: NA


revenues: 193 million (2012 est.)
expenditures: 167.3 million (2012 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

66.1% (of GDP) (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 6

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

8.8% (of GDP) (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 3

Public debt

24.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
21.6% of GDP (2015)
country comparison to the world: 179

Fiscal year

1 October - 30 September

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

0.9% (2017 est.)
-1% (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 46

Market value of publicly traded shares


Current account balance

-$53 million (2017 est.)
-$36 million (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 79


$23.17 billion (2017 est.)
$14.8 million (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 69

Exports - partners

Japan 51.3%, US 15.8%, India 13.8%, Guam 8% (2017)

Exports - commodities

shellfish, tuna, other fish (many species)


$4.715 billion (2018 est.)
$4.079 billion (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 134

Imports - commodities

machinery and equipment, fuels, metals; foodstuffs

Imports - partners

US 33.4%, Guam 15.8%, Japan 15.7%, China 13.5%, South Korea 5.3% (2017)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$0 (31 December 2017 est.)
$580.9 million (31 December 2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 193

Debt - external

$18.38 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$16.47 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 94

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home

(31 December 2009 est.)

Exchange rates

the US dollar is used


Electricity access

electrification - total population: 99.3% (2016)
electrification - urban areas: 99.6% (2016)
electrification - rural areas: 97.2% (2016)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 7,204
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 34 (July 2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 201

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 24,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 112 (July 2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 208

Telephone system

general assessment: well-developed mobile sector recently boosted by satellite network capacity upgrades; 3G services available with satellite; lack of telecom regulations; (2018)
domestic: fixed-line  34 per 100 and mobile-cellular services 112 per 100 persons (2018)
international: country code - 680; landing point for the SEA-US submarine cable linking Palau, Philippines, Micronesia, Indonesia, Hawaii (US), Guam (US) and California (US); satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean) (2019)

Broadcast media

no broadcast TV stations; a cable TV network covers the major islands and provides access to 4 local cable stations, 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) (2019)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 7,650
percent of population: 36% (July 2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 211

Military and Security

Military and security forces

no regular military forces; the Ministry of Justice includes divisions/bureaus for public security, police functions, and maritime law enforcement. (2019)

Military - note

Under a 1994 Compact of Free Association between Palau and the US, the US until 2044 is responsible for the defense of Palaus and the US military is granted access to the islands, but it has not stationed any military forces there. (2019)


National air transport system

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


3 (2013)
country comparison to the world: 196

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1 (2017)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2017)

Airports - with unpaved runways

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


total: 125 km (2018)
paved: 89 km (2018)
unpaved: 36 km (2018)
country comparison to the world: 205

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Koror

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

maritime delineation negotiations continue with Philippines, Indonesia

Flag of Palau

Descriptive text is not available for this image