|Republic of Palau
||English, Palauian, (Japanese in Angaur,
Sonsorole in the Sonsorol Islands, Tobian in
|Form of government
|Telephone area code
The Republic of Palau is located in the western
Pacific and consists of a total of 241 islands, eleven
of which are permanently inhabited. Like the islands of
the neighboring state of Micronesia, the Palau Islands
belong to the Carolines. The country covers 501 km².
Most of the islands lie within an approximately 110 km
long coral reef that surrounds a lagoon of around 1,300
km². The largest island is Babelthuap (Babeldaop) with
406 km², south of it lies the island of Koror, on which
the capital of the same name is located. Other islands
include Ukukthapel, Eil Malk, Ngerol, Peleliu and Angaur
southwest of Koror.
The islands of the republic are all volcanic in
origin. While some of them are made of volcanic rock and
protrude high from the sea (e.g. Koror and Babelthuap,
where the highest point is at 242 m), other islands
consist of coral limestone, which has built up on sunken
volcanic cones. These islands (e.g. Peleliu and Angaur)
are flat and often only protrude a few meters above the
One of the scenic sights in the South Pacific is the
Rock Islands (Chalbacheb), which stretch between Koror
and Peleliu. These are hundreds of tiny dome-shaped
coral reefs covered with lush vegetation.
The climate on the Palau Islands is tropical with
high temperatures all year round (average 28 ˇăC). Annual
rainfall is around 3,800 mm, although it is drier on the
flatter islands. Much of the rainfall falls from July to
October, during which time tropical cyclones also occur.
Flora and fauna
The high volcanic islands are covered with tropical
rainforest. The coasts are often lined with impenetrable
mangrove forests. Coconut and pandanus palms
predominantly grow on the flatter coral islands with the
nutrient-poor soils. In general, the diversity of
vegetation on the islands decreases towards the east.
Only bats are native mammals, all others were
introduced by humans. Saltwater crocodiles that can be
up to five meters long have become rare. The bird life
is very diverse; In addition to numerous seabirds, there
are parrots, birds of paradise, spectacled birds and
various types of pigeons, one of which (Biib) is the
national bird of Palau. The underwater world is
extremely diverse: an estimated over 1,400 different
species of fish live in the coral reefs, including manta
rays, reef sharks, butterfly fish, barracudas,
triggerfish and snappers. In addition to a variety of
coral and sea anemone species, the giant clam also
Around 20,500 people live on the islands of the
Republic of Palau, two thirds of them on Koror. Until
2006, Koror was the country's capital on the island of
the same name. Melekeok has been the new capital on the
island of Babelthuap since October 1, 2006. The average
population density is 41 people per square kilometer;
Apart from Koror, the islands of Babelthuap, Peleliu and
Angaur are more densely populated, many of the islands
are uninhabited. According to COUNTRYAAH,
the population growth is 1.4%, the
average life expectancy is 70 years.
The population is made up of over 70% Micronesians
and groups from Filipinos, Malays, Melanesians,
Japanese, Chinese and Americans. The official languages
are English and Palauic (English and Sonsoral in
Sonsoral, English, Japanese and Angaur in Angaur), and
other regional dialects are also spoken. Almost 30% of
the population are followers of traditional religions
(e.g. fashion kneeling), around 65% are Christians
(about two thirds of whom are Catholics).
Traditional villages are predominant on the islands,
and the family is the most important element in social
life. The education system is well developed and there
is a primary school on each of the inhabited islands.
The illiteracy rate is only 8%.
The Republic of Palau is a presidential republic
under the 1981 constitution. The head of state is the
President, who is also head of the government (since
January 2013 Tommy Remengesau). He is directly elected
by the people for a term of four years.
The legislature lies with the parliament (Olbiil Era
Kelulau), which consists of two chambers: a delegate
house with 16 seats and a senate with 13 seats. The
members of both chambers are elected by the people for
four years each. There is also a 16-member assembly of
chiefs (Council of Chiefs) as an advisory body. There
are no political parties in Palau.
In defense policy, the interests of the Republic of
Palau are represented by the United States (Free
Association Treaty of 1994).
Palau is divided into 16 counties (states).
In terms of per capita income, the Republic of Palau
is a relatively wealthy country in the region ($ 10,800
in 2012). However, much of the state budget is financed
with US economic aid.
Agriculture and fisheries are mainly carried out in
subsistence farming; around a fifth of the population
works in this sector. The most important crops are
coconuts, cassava and bananas. Coconuts, copra and, to a
lesser extent, fishery products are exported.
The industry is poorly developed, there are only a
few food processing companies. Handicrafts are also made
from natural materials.
The most important economic sector is the service
sector with a share of around 77% of the gross domestic
product (GDP). The vast majority of all employed people
work here. Tourism accounts for 70% of total GDP and has
had stable growth rates since the mid-1990s. Most
tourists come from Asian countries, especially Japan and
Taiwan, but also from Korea. Americans are the largest
group of visitors outside of Asia. The coastal waters
are a paradise for divers in particular.
Above all, Palau has to import food, machinery and
consumer goods. The most important trading partners are
the USA, Guam and Japan.
So far there are only a few paved roads on the larger
islands. The main seaport is on the island of Koror, an
international airport on Babelthuap.
The currency is the US dollar.