General Information about Palau

The official name is the Republic of Palau (Republic of Palau, Beluu er a Belau).

Located in the western part of the Pacific Ocean. The area is 458 km2, the population is 19.7 thousand people. (2003). The official languages are English and Palauan. The capital is the city of Koror (about 13.3 thousand people, 2002). Public holiday – Constitution Day July 9 (since 1979). The monetary unit is the US dollar.

Member of the UN (since 1994), IMF (since 1997), Pacific Islands Forum (formerly UTF, since 1995).

It is located east of the Philippines between 2°55 and 8°12 N and 131°05 and 134°44 E in the Palau archipelago. Belongs to the western part of the Caroline Islands and consists of 4 “high” islands (Babeltuap, 404 km2, the second largest in Micronesia after Guam, Koror, Peleliu and Angaur) and Kayangel Atoll (up to 10 m), as well as small islands-rocks – total 343 (inhabited 8). The length of the coastline is 1519 km.

On the “high” (the highest point – the peak of Ngerkel-kauus, 242 m) volcanic islands – fertile red earth soils. Areca palm, bamboo, etc. grow. The coast is usually covered with mangroves. The soil of the coral islands is calcareous, dry (moisture almost does not linger in it) and infertile. Grows mainly coconut palm. The animal world is represented by bats, there are snakes, lizards, crocodiles, birds, sea inhabitants are diverse (more than 1000 species).

Minerals: fish stocks in the 200-mile economic zone, timber, minerals (mainly gold), and potential mineral deposits on the seabed.

The climate is tropical, hot and humid. The average annual temperature is +28°C. Rainy season: May-November. It is located in the zone of origin of typhoons and storms (June-December).

According to Countryaah, the population growth rate is relatively high (about 3% per year). The population consists of Palauans (the local name is Belau, Micronesians with Malay and Melanesian admixture), as well as other, but small aboriginal peoples (Sonsorales, etc.) – 70%, Asians (mainly Filipinos, as well as Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese etc.) – 28%, Europeans – 2%. English (official in all states) and Palauan (Belau language, official in 13 states) are widely spoken. In addition to English, Sonsoralese is also the official language in Sonsoral, Toby in Toby, and Japanese in Angaur. Competently 92% of the adult population. Life expectancy for men is 66 years, for women – 73 years. Infant mortality 16 people per 1000 newborns.

Christians – 2/3 of the inhabitants (Catholics – 49%, the rest are Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, etc.). 1/3 of the population are followers of Modekngei, the local religion.

The Spaniards were the first Europeans to visit here in 1543, who named the archipelago Los Palos (the local name is Belau). As part of the Caroline Islands, Spain sold it to Germany in 1899. In 1914, Palau was occupied by Japanese troops. Since 1947 – among the mandated Pacific territories of the UN, transferred under the control of the United States. In 1978, the people of Palau rejected the draft Constitution of the Federated States of Micronesia (where the US intended to include Palau), and in 1979 approved the country’s own constitution. Since 1981, Palau has become a republic, received internal self-government, a president, vice president and parliament. In 1982, an agreement on its free association with the United States was signed. After a series of turbulent events (the assassination of the country’s first president and the suicide of the third, nine referendums), the amended treaty entered into force in 1994, and the country finally gained independence.

Palau is a presidential republic. Administratively divided into 16 states (each has its own governor and Legislative Assembly). In Koror (on the island of the same name), approx. 70% of Palau’s population. The construction of a new capital, provided for by the Constitution of the country, is underway on the less developed Babeltuap (connected to Koror by a bridge).

The President (T.E. Remengesauml.) is the head of state and executive power. He and the vice-president (S.S. Pierantozzi) are elected separately by direct vote for 4 years.

For the same term, a bicameral Legislative Assembly (Olbiil era Kelulau) is elected, consisting of the Senate (9 members elected in proportion to the population) and the House of Delegates (16 members – one from each state). The next elections are in 2004. The council of chiefs gives advice to the executive on matters of tradition and custom.

Political parties: Nationalist Party of Palau, Ta Belau Party.

Under the Agreement of Free Association with the United States, the latter provide the defense and security of Palau, and the US Armed Forces are guaranteed access to facilities on the islands for 50 years (in exchange for financial assistance).

The Republic of Palau has no diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation.

The strategic importance of Palau for the United States, the tourist attraction of the archipelago are the main reasons for the high standard of living for a developing country. GDP per capita 9 thousand US dollars (according to the purchasing power parity of currencies, 2001). The nominal GDP growth rate in 1983–97 was 10–14%. Growth slowed sharply as a result of the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98.

The leading industries are tourism and related service industries (45% of employees), the public sector (30%). An important place is occupied by construction (9%). The role of agriculture (less than 10% of the employed) is reduced due to the limited fertile land. There is a growing dependence on food imports. Coconut palm, cassava, sweet potatoes, tropical fruits and vegetables are grown. In industry (6% of employees) – enterprises for the production of souvenirs, clothing, etc. Unemployment – 3%.

Of the 61 km of roads, 36 km are paved. Seaport – Koror. There is also an airport (a runway with a hard surface).

Tourism is the most promising industry. The country attracts foreign investment in the development of its infrastructure. In 1997, the peak of foreign tourists was reached – 67 thousand people, their number decreased due to the crisis in East Asia. Now Palau receives more than 50 thousand tourists a year, planning to become an important tourism center for the countries of East Asia.

The country continues to be heavily dependent on foreign financial assistance (according to the Free Association Agreement, the United States must provide $700 million over 15 years).

Exported fish and fish, copra, clothes, souvenirs. Food, fuel, finished products, machinery and equipment are imported. Foreign economic partners – USA, Japan, Singapore, Guam. In 1988, legislation was passed aimed at creating an offshore financial center.

Most children attend free public schools. You can continue your education at the Palau Community College, and get a higher education only abroad.

People of Palau