Ten Pacific Island countries (excluding Papua New Guinea) are members of the World Bank:
- Marshall Islands
- Micronesia, Federated States of
- Solomon Islands
The World Bank’s Pacific Island member countries have a population of about 2.3 million people, spread across hundreds of islands, and scattered over an area equivalent to 15 percent of the globe’s surface. This is a unique and diverse region. Fiji, the largest among the group, has a population of around 880,000, while Tuvalu, with an estimated population of 9,893 is the World Bank Group’s smallest member. Kiribati is one of the most remote and geographically-dispersed countries in the world, consisting of 33 coral atolls spread over 3.5 million square kilometers of ocean – an area larger than India. Solomon Islands is geographically splintered with 1,000 small islands and atolls. It has a low population density with half a million people dispersed across 90 inhabited islands, 78 percent of whom reside in rural areas and is the poorest country in the pacific when measured in terms of Gross National Income (GNI) per capita.
Since independence Pacific Island countries have achieved real progress. Life expectancy has increased, infant mortality rates have declined, and less people are now being struck down with infectious diseases. Economic growth, however, has been well below the global average for developing countries.
Each of these counties share similar challenges as small and remote island economies. Small in size, with limited natural resources, narrowly-based economies, large distances to major markets, and vulnerability to exogenous shocks, can affect growth and have often led to a high degree of economic volatility.
These are also some of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the effects of climate change and natural disasters. Based on a World Bank report, of the 20 countries in the world with the highest average annual disaster losses scaled by gross domestic product, eight are Pacific Island countries: Vanuatu, Niue, Tonga, the Federated States of Micronesia, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Marshall Islands and Cook Islands.
Sustained development progress will require long-term cooperation by international partners. More broadly, greater economic integration, more equitable natural resource agreements, more open labor markets and adaptation to climate change will be vital for the long term future of the Pacific Islands.
Last Updated: Oct 05, 2015