The World Factbook (1990)/Pacific Islands, Trust Territory of the


Pacific Islands, Trust Territory of the (Palau)

World Factbook (1990) Pacific Islands, Trust Territory of the.jpg

See regional map X


Total area: 458 km²; land area: 458 km²

Comparative area: slightly more than 2.5 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries: none

Coastline: 1,519 km

Maritime claims:

Contiguous zone: 12 nm
Continental shelf: 200 m
Extended economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 3 nm

Climate: wet season May to November; hot and humid

Terrain: islands vary geologically from the high mountainous main island of Babelthuap to low, coral islands usually fringed by large barrier reefs

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

Land use: NA% arable land; NA% permanent crops; NA% meadows and pastures; NA% forest and woodland; NA% other

Environment: subject to typhoons from June to December; archipelago of six island groups totaling over 200 islands in the Caroline chain

Note: important location 850 km southeast of the Philippines; includes World War II battleground of Peleliu and world-famous rock islands


Population: 14,310 (July 1990), growth rate 0.7% (1990)

Birth rate: 25 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 6 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: -12 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 26 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 68 years male, 74 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 3.3 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Palauan(s); adjective—Palauan

Ethnic divisions: Palauans are a composite of Polynesian, Malayan, and Melanesian races

Religion: predominantly Christian, mainly Roman Catholic

Language: Palauan is the official language, though English is commonplace; inhabitants of the isolated southwestern islands speak a dialect of Trukese

Literacy: NA%, but education compulsory through eight grades

Labor force: NA

Organized labor: NA


Long-form name: Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (no short-form name); may change to Republic of Palau after independence; note—Belau, the native form of Palau, is sometimes used

Type: UN trusteeship administered by the US; constitutional government signed a Compact of Free Association with the US on 10 January 1986, after approval in a series of UN-observed plebiscites; until the UN trusteeship is terminated with entry into force of the Compact, Palau remains under US administration as the Palau District of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands

Capital: Koror; a new capital is being built about 20 km northeast in eastern Babelthuap

Administrative divisions: none

Independence: still part of the US-administered UN trusteeship (the last polity remaining under the trusteeship; the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas have left); administered by the Office of Territorial and International Affairs, US Department of Interior

Constitution: 11 January 1981

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

National holiday: Constitution Day, 9 July (1979)

Executive branch: US president, US vice president, national president, national vice president

Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament (Olbiil Era Kelulau or OEK) consists of an upper house or Senate and a lower house or House of Delegates

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Leaders: Chief of State—President George BUSH (since 20 January 1989), represented by High Commissioner Janet MCCOY (since NA);

Head of Government—President Ngiratkel ETPISON (since 2 November 1988)

Political parties: no formal parties

Suffrage: universal at age 18

Elections: President—last held on 2 November 1988 (next to be held November 1992); Ngiratkel Etpison 26.3%, Roman Tmetuchl 25.9%, Thomas Remengesau 19.5%, others 28.3%;

Senate—last held 2 November 1988 (next to be held November 1992); results—percent of vote NA; seats—(18 total);

House of Delegates—last held 2 November 1988 (next to be held November 1992); results—percent of vote NA; seats—(16 total)

Diplomatic representation: none; US—US Liaison Officer Steven R. PRUETT; US Liaison Office at Top Side, Neeriyas, Koror (mailing address: P. O. Box 6028, Koror, Republic of Palau 96940); telephone 160-680-920 or 990

Flag: light blue with a large yellow disk (representing the moon) shifted slightly to the hoist side


Overview: The economy consists primarily of subsistence agriculture and fishing. Tourism provides some foreign exchange, although the remote location of Palau and a shortage of suitable facilities has hindered development. The government is the major employer of the work force, relying heavily on financial assistance from the US.

GDP: $31.6 million, per capita $2,260; real growth rate NA% (1986)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): NA%

Unemployment rate: 20% (1986)

Budget: revenues $6.0 million; expenditures NA, including capital expenditures of NA (1986)

Exports: $0.5 million (f.o.b., 1986); commodities—NA; partners—US, Japan

Imports: $27.2 million (c.i.f., 1986); commodities—NA; partners—US

External debt: $NA

Industrial production: growth rate NA%

Electricity: 16,000 kW capacity; 22 million kWh produced, 1,550 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: tourism, craft items (shell, wood, pearl), some commercial fishing and agriculture

Agriculture: subsistence-level production of coconut, copra, cassava, sweet potatoes

Aid: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-87), $2 billion; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $62.6 million

Currency: US currency is used

Exchange rates: US currency is used

Fiscal year: 1 October-30 September


Highways: 25.7 km paved macadam and concrete roads, otherwise stone-, coral-, or laterite-surfaced roads (1986)

Ports: Koror

Airports: 2 with permanent-surface runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: stations—1 AM, 1 FM, 1 TV; 1 Pacific Ocean INTELSAT earth station

Defense Forces

Note: defense is the responsibility of the US and that will not change when the UN trusteeship terminates