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Palau



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Introduction

Background: 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 independent status 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 their independence.

Geography

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

Geographic coordinates: 7 30 N, 134 30 E

Map references: Oceania

Area
  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

Coastline: 1,519 km

Maritime claims
  continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
  exclusive fishing zone: 12 nm
  extended fishing zone: 200 nm
  territorial sea: 3 nm

Climate: wet season May to November; hot and humid

Terrain: 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 Ngerchelchauus 242 m

Natural resources: forests, minerals (especially gold), marine products, deep-seabed minerals

Land use
  arable land: NA%
  permanent crops: NA%
  permanent pastures: NA%
  forests and woodland: NA%
  other: NA%

Irrigated land: NA sq km

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
  signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note: includes World War II battleground of Beliliou (Peleliu) and world-famous rock islands; archipelago of six island groups totaling over 200 islands in the Caroline chain

People

Population: 18,766 (July 2000 est.)

Age structure
  0-14 years: 27% (male 2,605; female 2,458)
  15-64 years: 68% (male 7,006; female 5,814)
  65 years and over: 5% (male 416; female 467) (2000 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.75% (2000 est.)

Birth rate: 19.88 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Death rate: 7.35 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Net migration rate: 5.01 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Sex ratio
  at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
  under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
  15-64 years: 1.21 male(s)/female
  65 years and over: 0.89 male(s)/female
  total population: 1.15 male(s)/female (2000 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 17.12 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
  total population: 68.59 years
  male: 65.47 years
  female: 71.88 years (2000 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.47 children born/woman (2000 est.)

Nationality
  noun: Palauan(s)
  adjective: Palauan

Ethnic groups: Palauans are Micronesian with Malayan and Melanesian admixtures

Religions: Christian (Catholics, Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, the Assembly of God, the Liebenzell Mission, and Latter-Day Saints), Modekngei religion (one-third of the population observes this religion which is indigenous to Palau)

Languages: English and Palauan official in all states except Sonsoral (Sonsorolese and English are official), Tobi (Tobi and English are official), and Angaur (Angaur, Japanese, and English are official)

Literacy
  definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  total population: 92%
  male: 93%
  female: 90% (1980 est.)

Government

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

Data code: PS

Government type: constitutional government in free association with the US; the Compact of Free Association entered into force 1 October 1994

Capital: Koror (Note: a new capital is being built about 20 km northeast of Koror)

Administrative divisions: 18 states; Aimeliik, Airai, Angaur, Hatobohei, Kayangel, Koror, Melekeok, Ngaraard, Ngarchelong, Ngardmau, Ngatpang, Ngchesar, Ngeremlengui, Ngiwal, Palau Island, Peleliu, Sonsoral, Tobi

Independence: 1 October 1994 (from the US-administered UN Trusteeship)

National holiday: Constitution Day, 9 July (1979)

Constitution: 1 January 1981

Legal system: based on Trust Territory laws, acts of the legislature, municipal, common, and customary laws

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch
  chief of state: President Kuniwo NAKAMURA (since 1 January 1993) and Vice President Tommy E. REMENGESAU Jr. (since 1 January 1993); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
  head of government: President Kuniwo NAKAMURA (since 1 January 1993) and Vice President Tommy E. REMENGESAU Jr. (since 1 January 1993); 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 11 November 1996 (next to be held NA November 2000)
  election results: Kuniwo NAKAMURA reelected president; percent of vote - Kuniwo NAKAMURA 64%, Chief Ibedul Yutuka GIBBONS 36%; Tommy E. REMENGESAU Jr. reelected vice president; percent of vote - Tommy E. REMENGESAU Jr. 69%, Kione ISECHAL 31%

Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament or Olbiil Era Kelulau (OEK) consists of the Senate (14 seats; members elected by popular vote on a population basis to serve four-year terms) and the House of Delegates (16 seats - one from each state; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
  elections: Senate - last held 11 November 1996 (next to be held NA November 2000); House of Delegates - last held 11 November 1996 (next to be held NA November 2000)
  election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; House of Delegates - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA

Judicial branch: Supreme Court; National Court; Court of Common Pleas

Political parties and leaders: Palau Nationalist Party [Polycarp BASILIUS]

International organization participation: ESCAP, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, IMF, IOC, Sparteca, SPC, SPF, UN, UNCTAD, WHO

Diplomatic representation in the US
  chief of mission: Ambassador Hersey KYOTA
  chancery: 1150 18th Street NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20036
  telephone: [1] (202) 452-6814
  FAX: [1] (202) 452-6281

Diplomatic representation from the US
  chief of mission: Ambassador Thomas C. HUBBARD (resident in Manila); Charge d'Affaires Allen E. NUGENT
  embassy: address NA, Koror
  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

Economy - overview: The economy consists primarily of subsistence agriculture and fishing. The government is the major employer of the work force, relying heavily on financial assistance from the US. The population enjoys a per capita income of more than twice that of the Philippines and much of Micronesia. Long-run prospects for the tourist sector have been greatly bolstered by the expansion of air travel in the Pacific and the rising prosperity of leading East Asian countries.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $160 million (1997 est.) (Note: GDP numbers reflect US spending)

GDP - real growth rate: 10% (1997 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $8,800 (1997 est.)

GDP - composition by sector
  agriculture: NA%
  industry: NA%
  services: NA%

Population below poverty line: NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share
  lowest 10%: NA%
  highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices): NA%

Labor force: NA

Labor force - by occupation: agriculture NA%, industry NA%, services NA%

Unemployment rate: 7%

Budget
  revenues: $52.9 million
  expenditures: $59.9 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1997 est.)

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

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity - production: 200 million kWh (1996)

Electricity - production by source
  fossil fuel: 85%
  hydro: 15%
  nuclear: 0%
  other: 0% (1996)

Electricity - consumption: 200 million kWh (1996)

Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (1996)

Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (1996)

Agriculture - products: coconuts, copra, cassava (tapioca), sweet potatoes

Exports: $14.3 million (f.o.b., 1996)

Exports - commodities: trochus (type of shellfish), tuna, copra, handicrafts

Exports - partners: US, Japan

Imports: $72.4 million (f.o.b., 1996)

Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, fuels

Imports - partners: US

Debt - external: about $100 million (1989)

Economic aid - recipient: $155.8 million (1995); note - the Compact of Free Association with the US, entered into after the end of the UN trusteeship on 1 October 1994, will provide Palau with up to $700 million in US aid over 15 years in return for furnishing military facilities

Currency: 1 United States dollar (US$) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: US currency is used

Fiscal year: 1 October - 30 September

Communications

Telephones - main lines in use: 1,500 (1988)

Telephones - mobile cellular: 0 (1988)

Telephone system
  domestic: NA
  international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 0, shortwave 1 (1998)

Radios: 12,000 (1997)

Television broadcast stations: 1 (1997)

Televisions: 11,000 (1997)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs): NA

Transportation

Railways: 0 km

Highways
  total: 61 km
  paved: 36 km
  unpaved: 25 km

Ports and harbors: Koror

Merchant marine: none (1999 est.)

Airports: 3 (1999 est.)

Airports - with paved runways
  total: 1
  1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (1999 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways
  total: 2
  1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (1999 est.)

Military

Military branches: NA

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $NA

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: NA%

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

Disputes - international: none

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