THE REPuBLic OF Palau, formerly known as Caroline Islands, is a group of 200 islands located in the Pacific. In total, they have a land area of 177 sq.
mi. (459 sq. km.), with a population of 20,000 (2006 est.), and a population density of 111 people per sq. mi. (43 people per sq. km.). Because of the prosperity of Palau, it has one of the highest rates of per capita carbon dioxide emissions in the world, and is the country with the 15th largest rate of emissions. It was 15.3 metric tons per person in 1990, but was steadily reduced to 12.3 metric tons per person by 2003. Much of this comes from heavy use of electricity in air conditioning, and also, in spite of the size of the islands, relatively heavy use of private automobiles.
Palau is expected to suffer from rising water levels. This will probably lead to the permanent loss of some of the low-lying islands, with the others at risk from flooding. With the country's public water system badly contaminated and posing a serious health risk in January 2002, flooding could overwhelm the water supply for the country, and could cause the spread of insect-borne diseases such as malaria.
The government of Palau took part in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change signed in Rio de Janeiro in May 1992, and it accepted the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on December 10, 1999, with it entering into force on February 16, 2005.
sEE ALsO: Alliance of Small Island States (AOIS); Floods; Salinity.
bibliography. A.H. Leibowitz, Embattled Island: Palau's Struggle for Independence (Praeger, 1996); P.H. Saville, The Animal Health Status of Palau (Secretariat of the Pacific Community, 1999).
Robin S. Corfield Independent Scholar
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