Ten Pacific Island countries are members of the World Bank:
- Federated States of Micronesia
- Marshall Islands
- 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% 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 9,876 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 islands 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, 79% of whom reside in rural areas and 40% below the age of 14. It is the poorest country in the pacific when measured in terms of 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 struck with infectious disease. However, economic growth has been well below the global average for developing countries.
These counties share similar challenges as small and remote island economies. Small size, 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, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Marshall Islands, and the 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: Apr 02, 2015