Eleven Pacific Island countries (excluding Papua New Guinea) are members of the World Bank:

  • Fiji
  • Kiribati
  • Marshall Islands
  • Micronesia, Federated States of
  • Nauru
  • Palau
  • Samoa
  • Solomon Islands
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu
  • Vanuatu

The World Bank’s Pacific Island member countries have a population of about 2.3 million people, spread across a unique and diverse region made up of hundreds of islands, and scattered over an area equivalent to 15 percent of the globe’s surface.

In May 2016, we opened an office in Fiji, the largest country of the group, with a population of around 880,000. Tuvalu and Nauru, with estimated populations around 10,000 each, are the World Bank Group’s smallest members by population. 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. The half a million residents of the Solomon Islands live across 90 inhabited islands, 78 percent of whom reside in rural areas.

Each of these countries share similar challenges and opportunities as small and remote island economies. They are small in size with limited natural resources, narrowly-based economies, large distances to major markets, and vulnerability to exogenous shocks – all of which 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. According to a World Bank report, eight Pacific Island countries are among the 20 countries in the world with the highest average annual disaster losses scaled by gross domestic product.

Sustained development progress will require long-term cooperation between international development partners, regional organizations and governments. 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: Sep 19, 2016

The World Bank has been scaling up its assistance in the Pacific Islands and is moving from a regional approach to individual country strategies to better acknowledge country-specific challenges and priorities. In recent years, the World Bank has developed specific country strategies for the Federated States of MicronesiaSolomon IslandsKiribatiMarshall Islands, SamoaTongaTuvalu and Fiji, with other Pacific Island countries to follow.

The World Bank Group’s engagement with these Pacific Island countries reflects the influence of the region’s economic geography on their development trajectories, with unique challenges arising from remoteness.

A new research piece called Pacific Possible is looking 25 years ahead to quantify the impacts of potentially transformative opportunities and significant challenges for the Pacific Islands region, with papers on seven focus areas including Deep-Sea Mining, Tourism, Health and Non-Communicable Diseases, Tuna Fisheries, Labor Mobility, Climate and Disaster Resilience, and Knowledge Economy. The findings presented in Pacific Possible will provide governments and policy-makers with specific insights into the potential impact of each focus area on the economy, employment, government income and spending.

The Bank is supporting rural development through several projects, including the Rural Development Project in Solomon Islands. The project has helped hundreds of communities develop critical infrastructure, including bridges, schools, health clinics and access to water and electricity.

In the health sector, the Bank is supporting Pacific Island countries to reduce the rate of non-communicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The regional Non-Communicable Disease Roadmap has been developed in partnership with governments and key stakeholders in the region.

Transport, whether via road, air or water, is vital to Pacific Islands as it connects people to markets, schools, hospitals and family, often over vast distances. The World Bank is working with governments in Tonga and Kiribati through the Tonga Transport Sector Consolidation Project  and Kiribati Road Rehabilitation Project respectively, to improve the reliability and safety of transport networks. Through the Pacific Aviation Investment Program, KiribatiTongaTuvalu, Samoa, Vanuatu and the Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO) are being supported to make air travel safer and more efficient.

High population growth and high unemployment have become serious problems in Honiara, the capital of Solomon Islands. The World Bank is helping the government to assist the most vulnerable of Honiara's population, particularly youth and women, by providing short-term employment and training through the Rapid Employment Project.

In the energy sector, the Bank is working with the Government of Vanuatu to increase access to electricity for urban and rural households for essentials like lighting and phone charging, while in the Federated States of Micronesia the Energy Sector Development Project is supporting the government to increase the energy availability and efficiency. In Kiribati and Fiji, we are supporting the governments to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and foster investment in renewable energy.

In the mining sector, raising awareness of the importance of the role of women in the negotiation and management of mining royalties in Papua New Guinea, and supporting the Solomon Islands to sign up to the Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative.

Pacific Island countries derive significant economic and social benefits from their marine resources – 20 million square kilometers of the South Pacific are home to the largest tuna fishery in the world. So far, the Pacific Regional Oceanscape Program is helping Pacific Island countries including the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu to capture a greater share of the benefits from their fisheries, while supporting conservation.

Last Updated: Sep 19, 2016


In Tonga, the Pacific Early Age Readiness and Learning project has supported communities to organize play-based activities so children are better prepared for school. The project has also trained teachers to help improve learning results of students in the first grades of primary education.

In natural disaster resilience, the Bank supported the establishment of Vanuatu’s National Warning Centre, with the early warnings it provided helping to save many lives when Cyclone Pam struck in March 2015. To help Vanuatu rebuild, the country received benefits under the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Insurance Pilot Program – a program helping to boost resilience in a number of countries in the region.

The Solomon Islands Rapid Employment Project is providing short-term employment and training for urban youth and women in the capital of Honiara. By December 2015 the project had generated more than 660,000 days of work, paid US$2.8 million in wages and trained over 11,500 people. The project has exceeded its women and youth targets—project beneficiaries include 58 percent women and 53 percent youth.

In February 2016, The Kiribati Road Rehabilitation Project officially opened an improved road network on South Tarawa, including works on the only main road through South Tarawa, which is used by the entire population of 50,000 people. The project is the largest economic infrastructure investment in the country since World War II. We’ve also opened Samoa’s first four-lane, dual carriageway, considered to be the country’s most important section of road.

Agricultural production is an important issue for many Pacific Islands, as most of the population live in rural areas and rely on agriculture for food security and livelihoods. The Samoa Agriculture Competitiveness Enhancement Project is supporting crop and livestock farmers to improve their productivity and take greater advantage of market opportunities. Important achievements include the importation of new sheep and cattle breeds to improve livestock production; the introduction of new fruit and vegetable varieties to boost yields and diversify local diets; and the provision of matching grants for on-farm investment.

Last Updated: Sep 19, 2016