OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Palau
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Unitary Republic
AREA: 458 Sq Km (177 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION: 16,700
LOCATION AND GEOGRAPHY: Palau is located in the west Pacific
Ocean approximately 960 km (597 mi) east of the Philippines
and is the most westerly archipelago of island groups that
make up the Caroline Islands. The archipelago consists of
over 200 islands and atolls which vary in size from small
islands of coral limestone formation to Babeldoab, the 367
sq km (142 sq mi) main island, which is also the second
largest Micronesian island after Guam. Babeldoab was formed
from volcanic activity, rises to an elevation of 200 metres
(656 feet) and is surrounded by mangrove swamps. A 181 km
(112 mi) reef surrounds the main island group and encompasses
a lagoon on the western side that reaches 20km (12 mi) across
at its' widest point. Most of the islands are also covered
in thick vegetation. Major Cities (pop. est.); Koror 10,500
(1992). Land Use; N/A.
CLIMATE: Palau has a tropical maritime climate with hot and humid
conditions. From May to November the wet season prevails with typhoons
occurring between June and December. Average annual precipitation is 3,810
millimeters (150 inches) while the average daily temperature is 27 degrees
Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit) with 82% average humidity.
PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are the Palauns who are
Micronesians and ethnically the same as those located in the Federated
States of Micronesia (FSM). Other ethnic minorities include the Tobi of
the most southerly islands.
RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians with 41% of the population Roman
Catholic while 25% are Protestant.
LANGUAGES: The official languages are English and Palaun, a Micronesian
language. Although a variety of dialects are spoken throughout the islands.
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1990: In 1935 Japan began to construct
military installations within the Palaun territory. In 1947 Micronesia,
including Palau, became the Trust Territory of the Pacific under US administration.
In 1969 the US entered into discussions with the Trust Territory's legislature
on the future status of the territory. In 1978 a statement of Agreed Principles
for Free Association, which included full internal self-government, was
announced. In July 1978 Palau rejected a referendum on the draft constitution
of the Federated States of Micronesia. In 1980 Haruo Remiliik was elected
President and on Jan. 7, 1981 Palau adopted it's own popular constitution.
On Aug. 26, 1982 Palau signed a Compact of Free Association with the US,
although it required ratification by the people before it could come into
effect. In 1985 Pres. Remiliik was assassinated and succeeded by Lazarus
Salii. In Aug. 1988 Pres. Salii was found dead with an apparent self-inflicted
gunshot wound. On Nov. 2, 1988 Ngiratkel Etpison was elected President.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the US Dollar divided into
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $81,800,000 (1994). Public
Debt; USD $100,000,000 (1993). Imports; USD $40,000,000 (1993). Exports;
USD $600,000 (1989). Tourism Receipts; N/A. Economically active Population;
6,072 or 40.2% of total population (1990). Unemployed; 7.8% (1990).
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are the US and
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Fish, Root Crops, Timber.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Handicrafts, Tourism.
MAIN EXPORTS: Fish, Food, Handicrafts.