Palau - Economic Indicators

Economic 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...

Continue reading View Factbook for Palau

GDP Reference Last Previous Units Frequency
Nominal Gross Domestic Product 2016 310,248,300 297,645,400 NCU Annual
Real Gross Domestic Product 2016 210,050,900 206,066,900 NCU Annual
Trade Reference Last Previous Units Frequency
Exports of Goods and Services 2016 174,720,800 179,068,100 NCU Annual
Imports of Goods and Services 2016 212,378,100 208,827,600 NCU Annual
Exports of Goods 2016 18,071,014 14,753,012 USD Annual
Imports of Goods 2016 158,731,575 156,836,482 USD Annual
Current Account Balance 2016 -46,248,823 -24,245,931 USD Annual
Demographics Reference Last Previous Units Frequency
Population 2016 21,503 21,288 # Annual
Birth Rate 2014 13.4 13.1 # per Ths. pop. Annual
Death Rate 2014 9.3 11 # per Ths. pop. Annual

Factbook

Background

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 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.

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: 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
Coastline:
1,519 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm
Climate:
tropical; hot and humid; wet season May to November
Terrain:
varying topography from the high, mountainous main island of Babelthuap to low, coral islands usually fringed by large barrier reefs
Elevation:
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)
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 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 & Society

Population:
21,431 (July 2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 219
Nationality:
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.)
Languages:
Palauan (official on most islands) 65.2%, other Micronesian 1.9%, English (official) 19.1%, Filipino 9.9%, Chinese 1.2%, other 2.8%
note: Sonsoralese is official in Sonsoral; Tobian is official in Tobi; Angaur and Japanese are official in Angaur (2015 est.)
Religions:
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: 19.69% (male 2,177/female 2,043)
15-24 years: 16.68% (male 1,788/female 1,787)
25-54 years: 45.89% (male 6,005/female 3,830)
55-64 years: 9.65% (male 731/female 1,338)
65 years and over: 8.08% (male 446/female 1,286) (2017 est.)
population pyramid:
Median age:
total: 33.4 years
male: 32.7 years
female: 35 years (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 88
Population growth rate:
0.39% (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 166
Birth rate:
11.3 births/1,000 population (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 174
Death rate:
8.1 deaths/1,000 population (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 86
Net migration rate:
0.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 61
Population distribution:
most of the population is located on the southern end of the main island of Babelthuap
Urbanization:
urban population: 88.2% of total population (2017)
rate of urbanization: 1.6% annual rate of change (2015-20 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: 10.6 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 12.1 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 9 deaths/1,000 live births (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 133
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 73.4 years
male: 70.2 years
female: 76.8 years (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 135
Total fertility rate:
1.71 children born/woman (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 170
Health expenditures:
9% of GDP (2014)
country comparison to the world: 39
Physicians density:
1.42 physicians/1,000 population (2010)
Hospital bed density:
4.8 beds/1,000 population (2010)
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.)
Sanitation facility access:
improved:
urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population
unimproved:
urban: 0% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0% of population (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
NA
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
NA
Obesity - adult prevalence rate:
55.3% (2016)
country comparison to the world: 3
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.6%
male: 96.8%
female: 86% (2015 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 17 years
male: 16 years
female: 18 years (2013)

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, 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
Capital:
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
Independence:
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)
Constitution:
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:
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
Suffrage:
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 reelected president; percent of vote - Tommy REMENGESAU (independent) 51.3%, Surangel WHIPPS, Jr.(independent) 48.7%; Antonio BELLS elected vice president
Legislative branch:
description: bicameral National Congress or Olbiil Era Kelulau consists of the Senate (13 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 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; 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:
none
Political pressure groups and leaders:
NA
International organization participation:
ACP, ADB, AOSIS, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, IOC, IPU, MIGA, OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, WHO
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 Amy HYATT (since 9 March 2015)
embassy: Koror (no street address)
mailing address: P. O. Box 6028, Koror, Republic of Palau 96940
telephone: [680] 587-2920
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

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):
$292 million (2016 est.)
$283 million (2015 est.)
$252 million (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
country comparison to the world: 217
GDP (official exchange rate):
$310 million (2016 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
1.9% (2016 est.)
11.4% (2015 est.)
5.4% (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 188
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$16,200 (2016 est.)
$15,900 (2015 est.)
$14,300 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
country comparison to the world: 105
GDP - composition, by end use:
household consumption: NA% 60.6%
government consumption: NA% 27.2%
investment in fixed capital: NA% 22.6%
investment in inventories: 2%
exports of goods and services: 55.1%
imports of goods and services: -67.5% (2016 est.)
GDP - composition, by sector of origin:
agriculture: 3%
industry: 19%
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
Industries:
tourism, fishing, subsistence agriculture
Industrial production growth rate:
NA%
Labor force:
11,610 (2016)
country comparison to the world: 217
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: 12
Population below poverty line:
NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Budget:
revenues: $204.9 million
expenditures: $177.6 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: 4
Public debt:
24.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
21.6% of GDP (2015)
country comparison to the world: 175
Fiscal year:
1 October - 30 September
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
-1% (2016 est.)
0.9% (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 14
Market value of publicly traded shares:
$NA
Current account balance:
$-32 million (2016 est.)
$-24.2 million (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 60
Exports:
$117.5 million (2016 est.)
$14.8 million (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 193
Exports - commodities:
shellfish, tuna, other fish (many species)
Exports - partners:
Greece 82.4%, US 6.9% (2016)
Imports:
$179.3 million (2016 est.)
$176.9 million (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 210
Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, fuels, metals; foodstuffs
Imports - partners:
US 24.6%, Japan 19.8%, China 14.3%, Guam 14.2%, Philippines 4.4% (2016)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$580.9 million (31 December 2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 139
Debt - external:
$18.38 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$16.47 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 94
Exchange rates:
the US dollar is used

Energy

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

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines:
total subscriptions: 7,204
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 34 (July 2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 203
Telephones - mobile cellular:
total: 24,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 112 (July 2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 210
Telephone system:
general assessment: well-developed mobile sector recently boosted by satellite network capacity upgrades
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) (2016)
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) (2017)
Internet country code:
.pw
Internet users:
total: 7,650
percent of population: 36.0% (July 2016 est.)

Transportation

National air transport system:
number of registered air carriers: 1
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 1 (2015)
Airports:
3 (2013)
country comparison to the world: 194
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2017)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (2013)
Ports and terminals:
major seaport(s): Koror

Military & Security

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

Economic Indicators for Palau including actual values, historical data, and latest data updates for the Palau economy.