Ngerulmud (Palauan pronunciation: [ŋəˈɾulmuð]) is the capital city of the Republic of Palau, an island nation in the Pacific Ocean. It replaced Koror City, Palau's largest city, as the capital in 2006. The settlement is located in the state of Melekeok on Babeldaob, the country's largest island, located 20 kilometers (12 miles) northeast of Koror City and 2 km (1 mile) northwest of Melekeok City.[1] It is the least-populous capital city of a sovereign nation in the world.

Palau's capitol building
Location within Melekeok State
Location within Melekeok State
Ngerulmud is located in Palau
Location in Palau
Coordinates: 7°30′2″N 134°37′27″E / 7.50056°N 134.62417°E / 7.50056; 134.62417
Country Palau
State Melekeok
 • Total318 (State of Melekeok)
Time zoneUTC+9 (Palau Standard Time)
ZIP code
Area code(+680) 654


The name Ngerulmud precedes the area's designation as capital. It refers to the hill, overlooking the ocean, that dominates the site.

Ngerulmud is derived from a Palauan phrase meaning "place of fermented angelfish". The last syllable, mud, is the Palauan word for Centropyge tibicen, also known as the keyhole angelfish. In the past, under a local tradition, women gathered on the hill to offer fermented angelfish to the gods.[2]


The previous capital of Palau was located provisionally in Koror. The country's constitution, ratified in 1979, directed the Palau National Congress to establish a permanent capital in Babeldaob within ten years of the constitution's effective date.[3] The new capital's planning began in 1986, when a contract for the construction of the capitol complex was assigned to a Hawaii-based architecture firm, Architects Hawaii Ltd. (AHL), which had previously designed the capitol complex of the Federated States of Micronesia, located at Palikir. Progress was slow, as Palau lacked engineers and architects, and most of the construction materials had to be imported.[4]

Further work was not begun until the early 2000s when Palau secured a $20 million loan from Taiwan as part of efforts to enhance relations between the two countries and secure Palau's diplomatic recognition of Taiwan.[5] Containing separate buildings for the Olbiil era Kelulau (the country's legislature), and also the judicial and executive branches, connected via a central open plaza, the complex cost over US$45 million, and was officially opened on 7 October 2006, with over 5,000 people in attendance.[6] Government officials moved their offices from Koror to Ngerulmud shortly after.[7]

A 2013 piece in The Wall Street Journal reported that the capitol building, which was "unsuited to the local climate", had put Palau in debt, and a fault in the ventilation system had recently caused a mold infestation.[8] In April 2013, Ngerulmud's post office was closed permanently, as part of cost-cutting measures implemented by the postmaster, Tommy Sinsak. It had been established in December 2011, following an Olbiil era Kelulau resolution, and was one of only two in the country (the other being in Koror). During its 16 months of operation, expenses had exceeded US$30,000, while revenues, mainly from stamps, were less than $2,000.[9] Ngerulmud is the only settlement in Palau to have its own ZIP code (96939), with the rest of the country using 96940 – the United States Postal Service services Palau as part of the Compact of Free Association with the United States.[10]

In July 2014, Ngerulmud hosted the official opening of the 45th Pacific Islands Forum. However, the majority of events at the forum were held in Koror, with the leader's retreat held in Peleliu State.[11][12] In February 2016, Ngerulmud hosted the 16th Micronesian Presidents' Summit, which was attended by the presidents of Palau, the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia.[13]


Population statistics are not recorded separately for Ngerulmud. At the 2020 national census, the state of Melekeok in which Ngerulmud is located had a population of 318 people,[14] making it one of the least-populated national capitals or seats of government.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ According to Google Earth and topographic maps.
  2. ^ Liston, Jolie (2011). Pacific Island Heritage: Archaeology, Identity & Community. Australian National University. p. 192. ISBN 978-1921862489.
  3. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Palau Archived 7 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine – Embassy of the Republic of Palau, Washington, DC. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
  4. ^ Lucy Jokiel (1 December 1995). "Trading places: while Hawaii's economy bottoms out, Guam's and Palau's are ready to take off" – Hawaii Investor. Retrieved from Factiva, 25 August 2014.
  5. ^ Ralph Jennings (5 September 2006). "Taiwan hands economic aid to firm ties with Palau" – Reuters. Retrieved from Factiva, 25 August 2014.
  6. ^ "Pride in Palau for new Capitol"The Honolulu Advertiser. Published 12 November 2006. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
  7. ^ US Department of State. Background Note – Palau: Government offices moved to a new National Capitol Building complex located at Ngerulmud, Melekeok State
  8. ^ David Walter (1 March 2013). "Sequestration in Paradise: Palau worries it will be collateral damage in Washington's budget fight" – The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from Factiva, 25 August 2014.
  9. ^ Aurea Gerundio-Dizon (23 April 2013). "Palau Capital Building Post Office ‘Closed For Good’" Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback MachineIsland Times. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
  10. ^ Maripet L. Poso (3 November 2010). "House requests Toribiong to establish Post Office in Ngerulmud"Marianas Variety. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
  11. ^ Calendar of Events Archived 21 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine – Palau PIF. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  12. ^ "Pacific Islands Forum opens in Palau with plea to protect world's oceans" – Radio Australia. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  13. ^ (23 February 2016). "16th Micronesian Presidents’ Summit concludes"Island Times. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
  14. ^ "2020 Census of Population and Housing of the Republic of Palau" (PDF). p. 10.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 7°30′2″N 134°37′27″E / 7.50056°N 134.62417°E / 7.50056; 134.62417