What makes Palau a unique country to travel to?
The Republic of Palau is a constitutional democracy with a population of approximately 18,000 people. Upon independence in 1994, Palau entered into a 50-year Compact of Free Association with the United States. Palau is an archipelago consisting of several hundred volcanic and limestone islands and coral atolls, only several of which are inhabited. Palau is politically divided into 16 states. Palau’s developing economy depends on tourism, marine resources, and a relatively minor agricultural sector. Taxis are the main means of public transportation. Palau International Airport is located on Babeldaob Island, over a bridge from Koror. There is direct commercial air service to Palau from Manila, Taipei, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul, and Guam.
Although the crime rate in Palau is relatively low, as a foreign resident or visitor, you might be the target of petty and sometimes violent crime as well as other random acts against individuals and property. Please stay alert for your personal safety and protect your valuables.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.
While you are traveling in Palau, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. In Palau, it may be illegal to take pictures of certain private buildings and historical sites unless you have been granted permissions or paid the required fees. In Palau, driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. Certain sites require prior permission and/or payment of a fee prior to visiting or taking photographs. Signs are posted at the relevant sites, and an attendant may be present to collect the fee. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States, and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Palau, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not wherever you go.
While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
Medical Facilities and Health Information
Health facilities in Palau are adequate for routine medical care, but the availability and quality of services are limited. Serious medical conditions requiring hospitalizations or evacuation to the United States or elsewhere may cost tens of thousands of dollars. The Belau National Hospital will accept payment by cash, credit or debit card, while private clinics may require cash payment. Please be advised that Palau has occassional outbreaks of Dengue Fever.
Safety and Security
Civil disorder is rare; however, avoid public demonstrations and/or political rallies if they occur.
Traffic Safety and Road Conditions
While in Palau, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Palau accepts a driver's license issued by a U.S. state or military authority for up to 30 days. After 30 days in Palau, you must obtain a Palauan driver’s license. Many roads in Koror, where the vast majority of the population lives, are in fair condition but have no sidewalks and little or no shoulder on the side of the road. . . In addition, for the most part, the roadway known as the “Compact Road” that loops around the large island of Babeldaob is in fairly good condition. Although small sections of the road have deteriorated, repairs are expected to be completed later in 2013. Secondary roads connecting villages to the Compact Road vary in quality from good to rough. The national speed limit is 25 miles per hour, but drivers routinely ignore this limit in remote areas on good-quality roads, and traffic often moves slower in congested areas. Passing slow-moving vehicles is illegal, but some drivers occasionally do this. Drunken drivers are a late-night hazard in Palau.