Republic of Palau
Palau is located in the north Pacific Ocean some 2,000 kilometers (1,242.8 miles) north of Australia. It estimated that there are more than 200 islands in a chain running from northeast to southwest, although only 8 are inhabited. The islands are rocky and mountainous, with the highest point being Mount Ngerchelchauus at 242 meters. The largest island is Babeldoab (also spelled Babelthuap). The total land area is 458 square kilometers (176.8 square miles). There are gold deposits (although unmined) and the possibility of further minerals in the seabed within the 200 nautical mile economic zone claimed by the islands. The capital is Koror on Koror Island. However, the constitution calls for the capital to be sited at Melekeok on the nearby island of Babeldoab, and construction is under way to fulfill that requirement. The country is ranked as the fourteenth smallest nation in the world.
Palau is located in the tropics, and the weather is generally hot and very humid. Temperatures average around 27 degrees Celsius (80 degrees Farenheit), and vary little during the year. A rainy season lasts from May to November, with annual rainfall of around 3,600 milimeters (142 inches). The islands are hit by typhoons from time-to-time, and the main typhoon season is in the second half of the calendar year.
The population was estimated at 18,766 in mid-2000, giving a population density of 41 persons per square kilometer (106 per square mile), quite a bit lower than the neighboring Marshall Islands, which have a density of 375 persons per square kilometer (971 per square mile). The population was estimated to be growing at 1.8 percent a year in 2000. The birth rate is 20 per 1,000 people, and the death rate is 7 persons per 1,000. Migration is low, with about 90 citizens leaving each year. The average fertility rate is 2.5 children per woman. With this modest rate of population growth, the population can be expected to have most of its population in the working age groups. The 0 to 14 age group contains 27 percent of the population, and the 15 to 64 group contains 68 percent. Five percent are 65 and over. More than half the population live in the current capital, Koror, and urban residents account for 80 percent of the total population.
Almost all the people on the islands originate from Polynesian, Malayan, and Melanesian ethnic groups, and mostly follow the Christian religion, although a local traditional belief, Modekngei, is practiced by more than 30 percent of the population. English is the main official language. In 13 states Palauan is also an official language; in Sonsoral, Sonsoralese is also official; in Tobi, the Tobi language is also official; and in Angaur, Anguar and Japanese are also official. Overall life expectancy is 69 years, with male life expectancy being 65 years and female life expectancy 72 years. The adult literacy rate in 1980 was 92 percent, with 93 percent of adult males and 90 percent of females achieving literacy.
Palau has no territories or colonies.
Bank of Hawaii. Republic of Palau Economic Report: 2000. <http://www.boh.com/econ/pacific/pal/2000/palau2000.pdf>. Accessed August 2001.
International Monetary Fund. Republic of Palau: Recent Economic Developments. Washington D.C.: IMF, 1999.
U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. CIA World Factbook 2000: Palau. <http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/ps.html> . Accessed August 2001.
World Yearbook. London: Europa Publications, 2000.
Koror (a new capital is being constructed on the nearby island of Babeldoab).
United States dollar ($).
Fish, coconut products, shells, handicrafts.
Foodstuffs, beverages, tobacco, petroleum, cement, machinery, transport equipment, consumer manufactures.
US$160 million (1997 est.) [includes U.S. spending].
Exports: US$11 million (1998 est.). Imports: US$63 million (1998 est.).