Economy of Palau
The economy of Palau consists primarily of subsistence agriculture and fishing. The government is the major employer of the work force, relying heavily on financial assistance from the United States. The population enjoys a per capita income of more than twice that of the Philippines and much of Micronesia. Long-term prospects for the tourist sector have been greatly bolstered by the expansion of air travel in the Pacific and the rising prosperity of leading East Asian countries.
Palau's per capita GDP of $8,900 makes it one of the wealthier Pacific Island states. Industries
Tourism is Palau's main industry. Activity focuses on scuba diving and snorkeling among the islands' rich marine environment, including the Floating Garden Islands to the west of Koror. The number of visitors—85% of whom come from Japan, Taiwan, and the U.S.—reached nearly 67,000 in 1997, more than quadruple the level of a decade earlier. Tourism earned $67 million in foreign exchange for Palau in 1996, (which is 1,000 dollars per person) accounting for roughly half of GDP. Arrivals from Asian countries dropped in 1998 and 1999 due to the regional economic downturn and the depreciation of many Asian currencies against the dollar, which made Palau's dollar-denominated prices more expensive.
The service sector dominates the Palauan economy, contributing more than 80% of GDP and employing three-quarters of the work force. The government alone employs nearly 30% of workers. One of the government's main responsibilities is administering external assistance.
Construction is the most important industrial activity, contributing over 9% of GDP. Several large infrastructure projects, including the rebuilding of the bridge connecting Koror and Babeldaob Islands after its collapse in 1996 and the construction of a highway around the rim of Babeldaob, boosted activity at the end of the 1990s.
Agriculture is mainly on a subsistence level, the principal crops being coconuts, root crops, and bananas. Fishing is a potential source of revenue, but the islands' tuna output dropped by over one-third during the 1990s.
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