Nauru

Nauru

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Nauru officially the Republic of Nauru and formerly known as Pleasant Island, is an island country in Micronesia
Micronesia
Micronesia is a subregion of Oceania, comprising thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It is distinct from Melanesia to the south, and Polynesia to the east. The Philippines lie to the west, and Indonesia to the southwest....

 in the South Pacific
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

. Its nearest neighbour is Banaba Island
Banaba Island
Banaba Island , an island in the Pacific Ocean, is a solitary raised coral island west of the Gilbert Island chain and 300 km east of Nauru. It is part of the Republic of Kiribati. It has an area of 6.5 km², and the highest point on the island is also the highest point in Kiribati, at 81...

 in Kiribati
Kiribati
Kiribati , officially the Republic of Kiribati, is an island nation located in the central tropical Pacific Ocean. The permanent population exceeds just over 100,000 , and is composed of 32 atolls and one raised coral island, dispersed over 3.5 million square kilometres, straddling the...

, 300 kilometres (186 mi) to the east. Nauru is the world's smallest republic, covering just 21 square kilometres (8.1 sq mi). With just over 9,265 residents, it is the second least-populated country after Vatican City
Vatican City
Vatican City , or Vatican City State, in Italian officially Stato della Città del Vaticano , which translates literally as State of the City of the Vatican, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. It has an area of...

.

Settled by Micronesia
Micronesia
Micronesia is a subregion of Oceania, comprising thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It is distinct from Melanesia to the south, and Polynesia to the east. The Philippines lie to the west, and Indonesia to the southwest....

n and Polynesia
Polynesia
Polynesia is a subregion of Oceania, made up of over 1,000 islands scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean. The indigenous people who inhabit the islands of Polynesia are termed Polynesians and they share many similar traits including language, culture and beliefs...

n people, Nauru was annexed
Annexation
Annexation is the de jure incorporation of some territory into another geo-political entity . Usually, it is implied that the territory and population being annexed is the smaller, more peripheral, and weaker of the two merging entities, barring physical size...

 and claimed as a colony
Colony
In politics and history, a colony is a territory under the immediate political control of a state. For colonies in antiquity, city-states would often found their own colonies. Some colonies were historically countries, while others were territories without definite statehood from their inception....

 by the German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 in the late 19th century. After World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, Nauru became a League of Nations mandate
League of Nations mandate
A League of Nations mandate was a legal status for certain territories transferred from the control of one country to another following World War I, or the legal instruments that contained the internationally agreed-upon terms for administering the territory on behalf of the League...

 administered by Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, and the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

. During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Nauru was occupied by Japanese
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 troops, who were bypassed by the Allied advance across the Pacific. After the war ended, it entered into trusteeship again. Nauru gained its independence in 1968.

Throughout the first half of the 20th century, Nauru was a "rentier state
Rentier state
A rentier state is a term in political science and international relations theory used to classify those states which derive all or a substantial portion of their national revenues from the rent of indigenous resources to external clients.- Usage :...

". Nauru is a phosphate rock island
Island
An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, cays or keys. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot , or holm...

, with deposits close to the surface, which allow for simple strip mining operations. This island was a major exporter of phosphate
Phosphate
A phosphate, an inorganic chemical, is a salt of phosphoric acid. In organic chemistry, a phosphate, or organophosphate, is an ester of phosphoric acid. Organic phosphates are important in biochemistry and biogeochemistry or ecology. Inorganic phosphates are mined to obtain phosphorus for use in...

 starting in 1907, when the Pacific Phosphate Company began mining there, through the formation of the British Phosphate Commission
British Phosphate Commission
The British Phosphate Commission was a board of Australian, British and New Zealand representatives who managed extraction of phosphate from Christmas Island, Nauru and Ocean Island from the 1920s until the 1960s.-Nauru Island Agreement:...

 in 1919, and continuing after independence. This gave Nauru back full control of its minerals under the Nauru Phosphate Corporation
Nauru Phosphate Corporation
The Nauru Phosphate Corporation was a government-owned company controlling phosphate mining in Nauru, now known as the Republic of Nauru Phosphate, or RONPhos.-Failed investments:...

, until the deposits ran out during the 1980s. For this reason, Nauru briefly boasted the highest per-capita income enjoyed by any sovereign state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

 in the world during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

When the phosphate reserves were exhausted, and the environment had been seriously harmed by mining, the trust that had been established to manage the island's wealth diminished in value. To earn income, Nauru briefly became a tax haven
Tax haven
A tax haven is a state or a country or territory where certain taxes are levied at a low rate or not at all while offering due process, good governance and a low corruption rate....

 and illegal money laundering
Money laundering
Money laundering is the process of disguising illegal sources of money so that it looks like it came from legal sources. The methods by which money may be laundered are varied and can range in sophistication. Many regulatory and governmental authorities quote estimates each year for the amount...

 centre. From 2001 to 2008, it accepted aid from the Australian Government in exchange for housing a Nauru detention centre
Nauru detention centre
The detention center on the South Pacific island nation of Nauru was based on a Statement of Principles, signed on 10 September 2001 by the President of Nauru, René Harris, and Australia's then Minister for Defence, Peter Reith. The statement opened the way to establish a detention center for up...

 that held and assessed the refugee claims of asylum seekers who had arrived unauthorised in Australia.

The island has one airport, Nauru International Airport
Nauru International Airport
Nauru International Airport is the sole airport on the island of the Republic of Nauru. The airport's former ICAO code was ANAU.- Location, designation and future :...

. From January to September 2006, Nauru became partially isolated from the outside world when Air Nauru
Air Nauru
Our Airline is the national airline of the Republic of Nauru. It operates scheduled international services to other Pacific islands and Australia. Its main base is Nauru International Airport...

, the airline
Airline
An airline provides air transport services for traveling passengers and freight. Airlines lease or own their aircraft with which to supply these services and may form partnerships or alliances with other airlines for mutual benefit...

 which serviced the island, ceased operations in December 2005 and left the island accessible only by ship. The airline was subsequently able to restart operations in October 2006 under the name Our Airline with monetary aid from the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 (Taiwan).

Etymology


English visitors to the island originally named it "Pleasant Island". The name "Nauru" may derive from the Nauruan
Nauruan language
The Nauruan language is an Austronesian language spoken in Nauru. It is estimated that it has 7,000 speakers. Almost all speakers are bilingual in English....

 word Anáoero, which means "I go to the beach". The German settlers called the island Nawodo or Onawero.

History


Nauru was first inhabited by Micronesian and Polynesian people at least 3,000 years ago. There were traditionally 12 clans or tribes on Nauru, which are represented in the 12-pointed star in the flag of the country
Flag of Nauru
Following the indepencence of Nauru, the flag of Nauru was raised for the first time.The flag, chosen in a local design competition, was adopted on independence day, January 31, 1968. It depicts Nauru's geographical position, one degree below the Equator. A gold horizontal stripe representing the...

. Nauruans traced their descent matrilineally. Nauruans practiced aquaculture
Aquaculture
Aquaculture, also known as aquafarming, is the farming of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic plants. Aquaculture involves cultivating freshwater and saltwater populations under controlled conditions, and can be contrasted with commercial fishing, which is the...

 – they caught juvenile ibija fish
Milkfish
The milkfish is the sole living species in the family Chanidae. - Description and biology :...

, acclimatised
Acclimatization
Acclimatisation or acclimation is the process of an individual organism adjusting to a gradual change in its environment, allowing it to maintain performance across a range of environmental conditions...

 them to fresh water, and raised them in the Buada Lagoon
Buada Lagoon
Buada Lagoon is a landlocked, slightly brackish, freshwater lake on the island Nauru. It is about .The average depth of lagoon is and maximum depth is ....

, providing an additional and more reliable source of food. The other locally grown components of their diet included coconut
Coconut
The coconut palm, Cocos nucifera, is a member of the family Arecaceae . It is the only accepted species in the genus Cocos. The term coconut can refer to the entire coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which is not a botanical nut. The spelling cocoanut is an old-fashioned form of the word...

s and pandanus fruit
Pandanus tectorius
Pandanus tectorius is a species of Pandanus that is native to Malesia, eastern Australia, and the Pacific Islands. Common names include Thatch Screwpine, Hala , Bacua , and Vacquois ....

.

The British
British people
The British are citizens of the United Kingdom, of the Isle of Man, any of the Channel Islands, or of any of the British overseas territories, and their descendants...

 sea captain John Fearn
John Fearn
John Fearn was a British Royal Navy officer, ship captain and explorer. Fearn became famous for being the first European to land on the Pacific island of Nauru, which is now a sovereign republic....

, a whale hunter, became the first Westerner to visit this island in 1798, and he named it "Pleasant Island". From around 1830, Nauruans had contact with Europeans from whaling ships and traders who replenished their supplies (such as fresh water) at Nauru. Around this time, deserters from the ships began to live on the island. The islanders traded food for alcoholic palm wine
Palm wine
Palm wine also called Palm Toddy also called "Kallu" written in Malayalam and கள்ளு in Tamil or simply Toddy is an alcoholic beverage created from the sap of various species of palm tree such as the palmyra, and coconut palms...

 and firearms. The firearms were used during the 10-year Nauruan Tribal War
Nauruan Tribal War
The Nauruan Tribal War was a War among the twelve indigenous tribes of Nauru between 1878 and 1888. By the end of the war about 500 people had died, around a third of the population.-Origins:...

 that began in 1878, and by 1888 had resulted in a reduction of the population of Nauru from 1,400 to 900 people.

Nauru was annexed by Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 in 1888 and incorporated into Germany's Marshall Island
Marshall Islands
The Republic of the Marshall Islands , , is a Micronesian nation of atolls and islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, just west of the International Date Line and just north of the Equator. As of July 2011 the population was 67,182...

 Protectorate. The Germans called the island Nawodo or Onawero. The arrival of the Germans
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 ended the war, and social changes brought about by the war established kings as rulers of the island. The most widely known of these was King Auweyida. Christian missionaries from the Gilbert Islands
Gilbert Islands
The Gilbert Islands are a chain of sixteen atolls and coral islands in the Pacific Ocean. They are the main part of Republic of Kiribati and include Tarawa, the site of the country's capital and residence of almost half of the population.-Geography:The atolls and islands of the Gilbert Islands...

 arrived in 1888. The Germans ruled Nauru for almost three decades. Robert Rasch, a German trader who married a native woman, was the first administrator, appointed in 1890.

Phosphate
Phosphate
A phosphate, an inorganic chemical, is a salt of phosphoric acid. In organic chemistry, a phosphate, or organophosphate, is an ester of phosphoric acid. Organic phosphates are important in biochemistry and biogeochemistry or ecology. Inorganic phosphates are mined to obtain phosphorus for use in...

 was discovered on Nauru in 1900 by the prospector Albert Ellis
Albert Fuller Ellis
Sir Albert Fuller Ellis was a prospector in the Pacific, he discovered phosphate deposits on the Pacific islands Nauru and Banaba Island in 1900. He was the British Phosphate Commissioner for New Zealand from 1921 to 1951.Ellis was born in Roma, Queensland, his family moved to Auckland where he...

. The Pacific Phosphate Company started to exploit the reserves in 1906 by agreement with Germany. The company exported its first shipment in 1907. In 1914, following the outbreak of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, Nauru was captured by Australian troops. Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 and the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 signed the Nauru Island Agreement in 1919, creating a board known as the British Phosphate Commission
British Phosphate Commission
The British Phosphate Commission was a board of Australian, British and New Zealand representatives who managed extraction of phosphate from Christmas Island, Nauru and Ocean Island from the 1920s until the 1960s.-Nauru Island Agreement:...

 (BPC). This took over the rights to phosphate mining.
According to the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics (now the Australian Bureau of Statistics
Australian Bureau of Statistics
The Australian Bureau of Statistics is Australia's national statistical agency. It was created as the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics on 8 December 1905, when the Census and Statistics Act 1905 was given Royal assent. It had its beginnings in section 51 of the Constitution of Australia...

), "In common with other natives, the islanders are very susceptible to tuberculosis and influenza, and in 1921 an influenza epidemic caused the deaths of 230 islanders." In 1923, the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 gave Australia a trustee mandate over Nauru, with the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and New Zealand as co-trustees. On 6 and 7 December 1940, the German auxiliary cruisers Komet
German auxiliary cruiser Komet
Komet was an auxiliary cruiser of the German Kriegsmarine in the Second World War, intended for service as a commerce raider...

and Orion
German auxiliary cruiser Orion
Orion was an auxiliary cruiser of the German navy which operated as a merchant raider during World War II. Built by Blohm & Voss in Hamburg in 1930/31 as the freighter Kurmark, she was requisitioned by the Kriegsmarine at the outbreak of World War II and converted into the auxiliary cruiser Orion,...

sank four supply ships
German attacks on Nauru
There were two German attacks on Nauru in December 1940. These attacks were conducted by auxiliary cruisers between 6 and 8 December and on the 27th of the month. The raiders sank five Allied merchant ships and inflicted serious damage on Nauru's economically important phosphate-loading...

 in the vicinity of Nauru. On the next day, Komet shelled Nauru's phosphate mining areas, oil storage depots, and the shiploading cantilever.


Japanese
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 troops occupied Nauru
Japanese occupation of Nauru
The Japanese occupation of Nauru is the period of three years during which Nauru, a Pacific island was occupied by the Japanese army as part of the operations of the Pacific War during World War II...

 on 26 August 1942. The Japanese troops built an airfield on Nauru which was bombed for the first time on 25 March 1943, preventing food supplies from being flown to Nauru. The Japanese deported 1,200 Nauruans to work as labourers in the Chuuk islands
Chuuk
Chuuk — formerly Truk, Ruk, Hogoleu, Torres, Ugulat, and Lugulus — is an island group in the south western part of the Pacific Ocean. It comprises one of the four states of the Federated States of Micronesia , along with Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap. Chuuk is the most populous of the FSM's...

. Nauru, which had been bypassed and left to "wither on the vine" by American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 forces, was finally set free from the Japanese on 13 September 1945, when Captain Hisayaki Soeda, the commander of all the Japanese troops on Nauru, surrendered the island to the Australian Army
Australian Army
The Australian Army is Australia's military land force. It is part of the Australian Defence Force along with the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force. While the Chief of Defence commands the Australian Defence Force , the Army is commanded by the Chief of Army...

 and the Royal Australian Navy
Royal Australian Navy
The Royal Australian Navy is the naval branch of the Australian Defence Force. Following the Federation of Australia in 1901, the ships and resources of the separate colonial navies were integrated into a national force: the Commonwealth Naval Forces...

. This surrender was accepted by Brigadier J. R. Stevenson, who represented Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General (Australia)
Lieutenant general is the second-highest active rank of the Australian Army and was created as a direct equivalent of the British military rank of lieutenant general. It is also considered a three-star rank....

 Vernon Sturdee
Vernon Sturdee
Lieutenant General Sir Vernon Ashton Hobart Sturdee KBE, CB, DSO was an Australian Army commander who served two terms as Chief of the General Staff...

, the commander of the First Australian Army, on board the warship HMAS Diamantina
HMAS Diamantina (K377)
HMAS Diamantina , named for the Diamantina River in Queensland, is a River class frigate that served the Royal Australian Navy...

. Arrangements were made to repatriate from Chuuk the 737 Nauruans who survived Japanese captivity there. They were returned to Nauru by the BPC ship Trienza in January 1946. In 1947, a trusteeship was established by the United Nations, and Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom became the U.N. trustees of the island.

Nauru became self-governing in January 1966, and following a two-year constitutional convention, it became independent in 1968, led by founding president Hammer DeRoburt
Hammer DeRoburt
Hammer DeRoburt, KBE was the founding President of the Republic of Nauru, and ruled the country for most of its first twenty years of independence.-Background and early career:...

. In 1967, the people of Nauru purchased the assets of the British Phosphate Commissioners, and in June 1970, control passed to the locally owned Nauru Phosphate Corporation
Nauru Phosphate Corporation
The Nauru Phosphate Corporation was a government-owned company controlling phosphate mining in Nauru, now known as the Republic of Nauru Phosphate, or RONPhos.-Failed investments:...

. One of the ships commissioned to ship the natural resources of Nauru was the Eigamoiya, built by the Henry Robb
Henry Robb
Henry Robb, Limited, known colloquially as Robbs, was a British shipbuilding company based in Leith Docks on the east coast of Scotland. Robbs was notable for building small-to-medium sized vessels, particularly tugs and dredgers.-History:...

 shipyard at Leith
Leith
-South Leith v. North Leith:Up until the late 16th century Leith , comprised two separate towns on either side of the river....

 in Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

.

Income from the mining of phosphate gave Nauruans one of the highest living standards in the Pacific and the world.

In 1989, Nauru took legal actions against Australia in the International Court of Justice
International Court of Justice
The International Court of Justice is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands...

 over Australia's actions during its administration of Nauru. In particular, Nauru made a legal complaint against Australia's failure to remedy the environmental damage caused by phosphate mining. Certain Phosphate Lands: Nauru v. Australia led to an out-of-court settlement to rehabilitate the mined-out areas of Nauru.

Politics


Nauru is a republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

 with a parliamentary system
Parliamentary system
A parliamentary system is a system of government in which the ministers of the executive branch get their democratic legitimacy from the legislature and are accountable to that body, such that the executive and legislative branches are intertwined....

 of government. The president is both the head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 and of government
Head of government
Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...

. An 18-member unicameral parliament is elected every three years. The parliament elects a President from its members, and the President appoints a cabinet of five to six members. Nauru does not have any formal structure for political parties. Candidates typically stand for office as independents. Fifteen of the 18 members of the current Parliament are independents, and alliances within the government are often formed on the basis of extended family ties. Three parties that have sometimes been active in Nauruan politics are the Democratic Party
Democratic Party of Nauru
The Democratic Party of Nauru is a political party in the Pacific nation of Nauru.-Foundation and leadership:The Party was founded in January, 1987 by former head of state Kennan Adeang, after he had been ousted by Hammer DeRoburt for the second time in two months. The DPN succeeded the informal...

, Nauru First
Nauru First
Nauru First is the only formal political party in the Republic of Nauru.-Philosophy and leading members:Its positions tend to be liberal, pro-government transparency, and Christian democratic...

, and the Centre Party
Centre Party (Nauru)
The Centre Party is an informal political party in the Pacific nation of Nauru.-Foundation:The party was formed by the former President of Nauru, Kinza Clodumar, and supported René Harris, Clodumar's ally, in the Parliament, mainly in votes of no confidence for or against Harris.-Political role:The...

.

Since 1992, local government has been the responsibility of the Nauru Island Council (NIC). The NIC has limited powers, and it functions as an advisor to the national government on local matters. The role of the NIC is to concentrate its efforts on local activities relevant to Nauruans. An elected member of the Nauru Island Council cannot simultaneously be a member of parliament. NIC was itself dissolved in 1999 and all assets and liabilities became vested in the national government Land tenure
Land tenure
Land tenure is the name given, particularly in common law systems, to the legal regime in which land is owned by an individual, who is said to "hold" the land . The sovereign monarch, known as The Crown, held land in its own right. All private owners are either its tenants or sub-tenants...

 on Nauru is unusual: all Nauruans have certain rights to all land on the island, which is owned by individuals and family groups. Government and corporate entities do not own any land, and they must enter into a lease arrangement with the landowners to use land. Non-Nauruans cannot own land.

Nauru had 17 changes of administration between 1989 and 2003. Between 1999 and 2003, a series of no-confidence votes and elections resulted in two people, René Harris
René Harris
René Reynaldo Harris was President of the Republic of Nauru four times between 1999 and 2004. He was a Member of Parliament from 1977 to 2008.-Background and early career:...

 and Bernard Dowiyogo
Bernard Dowiyogo
HE Bernard Annen Auwen Dowiyogo was President of the Republic of Nauru.-Background and early career:He first became an elected member of Nauru's 18-seat parliament in 1973...

, leading the country for alternating periods. Dowiyogo died in office in March 2003 and Ludwig Scotty
Ludwig Scotty
Ludwig Derangadage Scotty is a two-time former President of the Republic of Nauru. He served as President from 29 May 2003 to 8 August 2003, then from 22 June 2004 to his ousting in a vote of no confidence on 19 December 2007....

 was elected as the President. Scotty was re-elected to serve a full term in October 2004. Following a vote of "no confidence" by Parliament against President Scotty on 19 December 2007, Marcus Stephen
Marcus Stephen
Marcus Stephen was President of the Republic of Nauru from December 2007 to November 2011. In addition to the presidency, he held the offices of Minister for Home Affairs, Minister for the Nauru Phosphate Royalties Trust, Minister for Police, Prisons, & Emergency Services, and Minister for Public...

 became the President.

Nauru has a complex legal system. Its Supreme Court, headed by the Chief Justice, is paramount on constitutional issues
Constitution of Nauru
The constitution of the Republic of Nauru was adopted following national independence on 31 January 1968.In 2007 there were political debates in progress with a view to amend aspects of the Constitution, owing to the challenge of widely acknowledged political instability...

. Other cases can be appealed to the two-judge Appellate Court. Parliament cannot overturn court decisions, but Appellate Court rulings can be appealed to the High Court of Australia
High Court of Australia
The High Court of Australia is the supreme court in the Australian court hierarchy and the final court of appeal in Australia. It has both original and appellate jurisdiction, has the power of judicial review over laws passed by the Parliament of Australia and the parliaments of the States, and...

. However, in practice, this rarely happens. Lower courts consist of the District Court and the Family Court, both of which are headed by a Resident Magistrate, who also is the Registrar of the Supreme Court. Finally, there also are two quasi-courts: the Public Service Appeal Board and the Police Appeal Board, both of which are presided over by the Chief Justice.

Nauru, with its small population, has no armed forces. Under an informal agreement, its defence is the responsibility of Australia. There is a small police force under civilian control.

Nauru is divided into fourteen administrative district
District
Districts are a type of administrative division, in some countries managed by a local government. They vary greatly in size, spanning entire regions or counties, several municipalities, or subdivisions of municipalities.-Austria:...

s which are grouped into eight electoral constituencies. The districts are:

Aiwo • Anabar • Anetan • Anibare • Baiti • Boe • Buada • Denigomodu • Ewa • Ijuw • Meneng • Nibok • Uaboe • Yaren

Foreign relations


Following independence in 1968, Nauru joined the Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

 as a Special Member, and it became a full member in 2000. Nauru was admitted to the Asian Development Bank
Asian Development Bank
The Asian Development Bank is a regional development bank established on 22 August 1966 to facilitate economic development of countries in Asia...

 in 1991 and to the United Nations in 1999. Nauru is a member of the Pacific Islands Forum
Pacific Islands Forum
The Pacific Islands Forum is an inter-governmental organization that aims to enhance cooperation between the independent countries of the Pacific Ocean. It was founded in 1971 as the South Pacific Forum...

, the South Pacific Regional Environmental Program, the South Pacific Commission, and the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission. The American Atmospheric Radiation Measurement
Atmospheric Radiation Measurement
The United States Department of Energy's Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program was created in 1989 to develop several highly instrumented ground stations to study cloud formation processes and their influence on radiative transfer...

 Program operates a climate-monitoring facility on Nauru.

Nauru and Australia have close diplomatic ties. In addition to the informal defence arrangements, the September 2005 Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries provides Nauru with financial aid and technical assistance, including a Secretary of Finance to prepare Nauru's budget, and advisers on health and education. This aid is in return for Nauru's housing of asylum seekers while their applications for entry into Australia are processed. Nauru uses the Australian dollar
Australian dollar
The Australian dollar is the currency of the Commonwealth of Australia, including Christmas Island, Cocos Islands, and Norfolk Island, as well as the independent Pacific Island states of Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu...

 as its official currency.

Nauru has used its position as a member of the United Nations to gain financial support from both Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

 (Republic of China) and the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 by changing its recognition from one to the other (see One China policy). During 2002, Nauru signed an agreement to establish diplomatic relations with the PRC on 21 July. Nauru accepted $130m from PRC for this action. In response, the ROC severed diplomatic relations with Nauru two days later. Nauru later re-established links with the ROC on 14 May 2005, and diplomatic ties with the PRC were officially severed on 31 May 2005. However, the PRC continues to maintain a representative office on Nauru. Similarly in 2008, Nauru recognised Serbian break away region Kosovo
Kosovo
Kosovo is a region in southeastern Europe. Part of the Ottoman Empire for more than five centuries, later the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia...

 as an independent country. Then, in 2009, Nauru became the fourth country, after Russia, Nicaragua, and Venezuela to recognise the breakaway region of Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

, Abkhazia
Abkhazia
Abkhazia is a disputed political entity on the eastern coast of the Black Sea and the south-western flank of the Caucasus.Abkhazia considers itself an independent state, called the Republic of Abkhazia or Apsny...

. Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 was reported to be giving Nauru $50M in humanitarian aid in return. On 15 July, the Nauru government announced a port refurbishment programme to be completed in early 2011. The programme is financed with US$9 million of development aid received from Russia. The Nauru government claims this aid is not related to its recognising Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

In recent times, a significant portion of Nauru's income has been in the form of aid from Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

. In 2001, the MV Tampa
MV Tampa
MV Tampa is a roll-on/roll-off container ship completed in 1984 by Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. in South Korea for the Norway based firm, Wilhelmsen Lines Shipowning.-Tampa affair:...

, a Norwegian ship that had rescued 433 refugees (from various countries including Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

) from a stranded 20-metre-long boat and was seeking to dock in Australia, was diverted to Nauru as part of the Pacific Solution
Pacific Solution
The Pacific Solution was the name given to the Australian government policy of transporting asylum seekers to detention camps on small island nations in the Pacific Ocean, rather than allowing them to land on the Australian mainland...

. Nauru operated the detention centre in exchange for Australian aid. By November 2005, only two refugees, Mohammed Sagar
Mohammed Sagar
Mohammed Sagar is an Iraqi Shi'a Muslim refugee who was detained on Manus Island and Nauru between 2001 and 2006. Sagar became the last of approximately 1,300 refugees from the Middle East to be detained on Nauru under the Australian Government's "Pacific Solution" after an adverse security...

 and Muhammad Faisal
Muhammad Faisal
Muhammad Faisal is an Iraqi refugee who was detained on the island of Nauru between 2001 and 2006 under the Australian Government's "pacific solution"...

, remained on Nauru from those first sent there in 2001, with Sagar finally resettling in early 2007. The Australian government sent further groups of asylum-seekers to Nauru in late 2006 and early 2007. In late January 2008, following Australia's decision to close the processing centre, Nauru announced that they will request a new aid deal to ease the resulting blow to the economy.

Geography


Nauru is a 21 square kilometres (8 sq mi), oval-shaped island in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, 42 kilometres (26 mi) south of the Equator
Equator
An equator is the intersection of a sphere's surface with the plane perpendicular to the sphere's axis of rotation and containing the sphere's center of mass....

. The island is surrounded by a coral reef, which is exposed at low tide and dotted with pinnacles. The reef is bounded seaward by deep water, and on the inside by a sandy beach. The presence of the reef has prevented the establishment of a seaport, although 16 channels
Canals in Nauru
Canals in Nauru have been artificially created to allow boats access to the small island. The canals are predominantly man-made openings in the surrounding reef which encircle the entire island of Nauru. These canals ease the docking of boats and yachts....

 in reef allow small boats access to the island. A 150 to 300 metre (about 500 to 1,000 ft.) wide fertile coastal strip lies inland from the beach.

Coral cliffs surround Nauru's central plateau, which is known as "Topside". The highest point of the plateau, called the Command Ridge
Command Ridge
Command Ridge is the highest point of Nauru, with an altitude of .-External links: , Topoworld.com....

, is 71 metres above sea level. The only fertile areas on Nauru are the narrow coastal belt, where coconut palms flourish. The land surrounding Buada Lagoon
Buada Lagoon
Buada Lagoon is a landlocked, slightly brackish, freshwater lake on the island Nauru. It is about .The average depth of lagoon is and maximum depth is ....

 supports banana
Banana
Banana is the common name for herbaceous plants of the genus Musa and for the fruit they produce. Bananas come in a variety of sizes and colors when ripe, including yellow, purple, and red....

s, pineapple
Pineapple
Pineapple is the common name for a tropical plant and its edible fruit, which is actually a multiple fruit consisting of coalesced berries. It was given the name pineapple due to its resemblance to a pine cone. The pineapple is by far the most economically important plant in the Bromeliaceae...

s, vegetables, pandanus trees
Pandanus tectorius
Pandanus tectorius is a species of Pandanus that is native to Malesia, eastern Australia, and the Pacific Islands. Common names include Thatch Screwpine, Hala , Bacua , and Vacquois ....

, and indigenous hardwoods such as the tomano tree
Calophyllum inophyllum
Calophyllum inophyllum is a large evergreen. It is native from East Africa, southern coastal India to Malesia and Australia.-Distribution and description:...

. The population of Nauru is concentrated in the coastal belt and around Buada Lagoon.

Nauru was one of three great phosphate rock
Guano
Guano is the excrement of seabirds, cave dwelling bats, and seals. Guano manure is an effective fertilizer due to its high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen and also its lack of odor. It was an important source of nitrates for gunpowder...

 islands in the Pacific Ocean (the others were Banaba (Ocean Island) in Kiribati
Kiribati
Kiribati , officially the Republic of Kiribati, is an island nation located in the central tropical Pacific Ocean. The permanent population exceeds just over 100,000 , and is composed of 32 atolls and one raised coral island, dispersed over 3.5 million square kilometres, straddling the...

 and Makatea
Makatea
Makatea, or Mangaia-te-vai-tamae, is a raised coral atoll in the northwestern part of the Tuamotus. It is located 79 km southwest from Rangiroa to the west of the Palliser group. It is surrounded by spectacular cliffs, rising to a plateau 80 meters above the sea level. This island is...

 in French Polynesia
French Polynesia
French Polynesia is an overseas country of the French Republic . It is made up of several groups of Polynesian islands, the most famous island being Tahiti in the Society Islands group, which is also the most populous island and the seat of the capital of the territory...

). However, the phosphate reserves on Nauru are depleted for all practical purposes. Phosphate mining in the central plateau has left a barren terrain of jagged limestone pinnacles up to 15 metres (49.2 ft) high. A century of mining has stripped and devastated about 80% of the land area. Mining has also affected the surrounding Exclusive Economic Zone
Exclusive Economic Zone
Under the law of the sea, an exclusive economic zone is a seazone over which a state has special rights over the exploration and use of marine resources, including production of energy from water and wind. It stretches from the seaward edge of the state's territorial sea out to 200 nautical...

, with 40% of marine life estimated to have been killed by silt and phosphate runoff.
There are limited natural fresh water resources on Nauru. Rooftop storage tanks
Rainwater tank
A rainwater tank is a water tank used to collect and store rain water runoff, typically from rooftops via rain gutters...

 collect rainwater, but the islanders are mostly dependent on three desalination plants
Desalination
Desalination, desalinization, or desalinisation refers to any of several processes that remove some amount of salt and other minerals from saline water...

 housed at Nauru's Utilities Agency. Nauru's climate is hot and very humid year-round – because of the proximity of the island to the Equator
Equator
An equator is the intersection of a sphere's surface with the plane perpendicular to the sphere's axis of rotation and containing the sphere's center of mass....

 and the ocean. Nauru is hit by monsoon
Monsoon
Monsoon is traditionally defined as a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation, but is now used to describe seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and precipitation associated with the asymmetric heating of land and sea...

 rains between November and February. Annual rainfall is highly variable and is influenced by the El Niño-Southern Oscillation
El Niño-Southern Oscillation
El Niño/La Niña-Southern Oscillation, or ENSO, is a quasiperiodic climate pattern that occurs across the tropical Pacific Ocean roughly every five years...

, with several significant recorded droughts.

The temperature on Nauru ranges between 26 and 35° Celsius (79 to 95 °Fahrenheit) during the day and between 25 and 28° Celsius (77 to 82 °F.) at night. As an island country, Nauru is quite vulnerable to climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

 and sea level change, but to what degree is difficult to predict. At least 80% of the land of Nauru is well-elevated, but this area will be uninhabitable until the phosphate mining rehabilitation program is implemented. Also, the agricultural area of Nauru is quite close to the seashore.

There are only about 60 recorded vascular plant
Vascular plant
Vascular plants are those plants that have lignified tissues for conducting water, minerals, and photosynthetic products through the plant. Vascular plants include the clubmosses, Equisetum, ferns, gymnosperms and angiosperms...

 species native to the island, none of which are endemic
Endemic (ecology)
Endemism is the ecological state of being unique to a defined geographic location, such as an island, nation or other defined zone, or habitat type; organisms that are indigenous to a place are not endemic to it if they are also found elsewhere. For example, all species of lemur are endemic to the...

. Coconut farming, mining, and introduced species have caused serious disturbance to the native vegetation. There are no native land mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

s, but there are native birds, including the endemic Nauru Reed Warbler
Nauru Reed Warbler
The Nauru Reed Warbler is a species of Old World warbler and the only bird species endemic to the island Nauru...

, insects, and land crabs. The Polynesian rat
Polynesian Rat
The Polynesian Rat, or Pacific Rat , known to the Māori as kiore, is the third most widespread species of rat in the world behind the Brown Rat and Black Rat. The Polynesian Rat originates in Southeast Asia but, like its cousins, has become well travelled – infiltrating Fiji and most Polynesian...

, cats, dogs, pigs, and chickens have been introduced to Nauru from ships, either accidentally or on purpose.

Economy


The Nauruan economy peaked in the early 1980s, dependent almost entirely on the phosphate
Monocalcium phosphate
Monocalcium phosphate is a chemical compound with the formula Ca2. It is commonly found as the monohydrate, Ca2·H2O.-Fertilizer:Phosphorus is an essential nutrient and therefore is a common component of agricultural fertilizers...

 deposits that originate from the droppings of sea birds
Guano
Guano is the excrement of seabirds, cave dwelling bats, and seals. Guano manure is an effective fertilizer due to its high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen and also its lack of odor. It was an important source of nitrates for gunpowder...

. There are few other resources, and most necessities are imported. Small-scale mining is still conducted by the RONPhos, formerly known as the Nauru Phosphate Corporation
Nauru Phosphate Corporation
The Nauru Phosphate Corporation was a government-owned company controlling phosphate mining in Nauru, now known as the Republic of Nauru Phosphate, or RONPhos.-Failed investments:...

. The government places a percentage of RONPhos's earnings into the Nauru Phosphate Royalties Trust
Nauru Phosphate Royalties Trust
The Nauru Phosphate Royalties Trust was a sovereign wealth fund developed by the government of the Republic of Nauru in which the government invested money from the state owned mining company, Nauru Phosphate Corporation...

. The Trust manages long-term investments, which were intended to support the citizens once the phosphate reserves were exhausted.

The Trust's fixed and current asset
Current asset
In accounting, a current asset is an asset on the balance sheet which can either be converted to cash or used to pay current liabilities within 12 months...

s, many of which were in Melbourne
Melbourne
Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. The Melbourne City Centre is the hub of the greater metropolitan area and the Census statistical division—of which "Melbourne" is the common name. As of June 2009, the greater...

, were reduced considerably, and many never fully recovered. Some of the failed investments included financing 1993's Leonardo the Musical
Leonardo the Musical: A Portrait of Love
Leonardo the Musical: A Portrait of Love is a musical with a book by Greg Moeller and Russell Dunlop and music and lyrics by Tommy Moeller. The 1993 West End production is considered one of the biggest disasters in the history of London theatre....

, which was a financial failure, the purchase of the vacant Carlton and United Breweries site on Swanston Street in 1994 which was sold undeveloped in 1998, and a loan to the Fitzroy Football Club
Fitzroy Football Club
The Fitzroy Football Club, formerly nicknamed The Lions, is an Australian rules football club formed in 1883 to represent the inner Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy, Victoria and was a foundation member club of the Victorian Football League on its inception in 1897...

 which went into liquidation in 1996.

The Mercure Hotel in Sydney
Sydney
Sydney is the most populous city in Australia and the state capital of New South Wales. Sydney is located on Australia's south-east coast of the Tasman Sea. As of June 2010, the greater metropolitan area had an approximate population of 4.6 million people...

  and Nauru House
Nauru House
Nauru House is a landmark 52-story building located in the Melbourne CBD. The building was designed by architectural firm Perrott Lyon Timlock & Kesa-History:...

 in Melbourne were sold in 2004 to finance debts and Air Nauru
Air Nauru
Our Airline is the national airline of the Republic of Nauru. It operates scheduled international services to other Pacific islands and Australia. Its main base is Nauru International Airport...

's only Boeing 737
Boeing 737
The Boeing 737 is a short- to medium-range, twin-engine narrow-body jet airliner. Originally developed as a shorter, lower-cost twin-engine airliner derived from Boeing's 707 and 727, the 737 has developed into a family of nine passenger models with a capacity of 85 to 215 passengers...

, which was repossessed in December 2005. Normal air service resumed after the aircraft was replaced with a Boeing 737-300 airliner in June 2006.

The value of the Trust is estimated to have shrunk from A$
Australian dollar
The Australian dollar is the currency of the Commonwealth of Australia, including Christmas Island, Cocos Islands, and Norfolk Island, as well as the independent Pacific Island states of Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu...

1.3 billion in 1991 to $138 million in 2002. In 2005, the corporation sold its property asset in Melbourne, the vacant Savoy Tavern site, for $7.5 million. Nauru currently lacks money to perform many of the basic functions of government; for example, the National Bank of Nauru is insolvent. The CIA World Factbook estimated GDP per capita at $5,000 in 2005. The Asian Development Bank 2007 economic report on Nauru estimated GDP per capita at $2,400 to $2,715.

There are no personal taxes in Nauru. The unemployment
Unemployment
Unemployment , as defined by the International Labour Organization, occurs when people are without jobs and they have actively sought work within the past four weeks...

 rate is estimated to be 90%, and the government employs 95% of those Nauruans who are employed. The Asian Development Bank
Asian Development Bank
The Asian Development Bank is a regional development bank established on 22 August 1966 to facilitate economic development of countries in Asia...

 notes that although the Administration has a strong public mandate to implement economic reforms, in the absence of an alternative to phosphate mining, the medium-term outlook is for continued dependence on external assistance. The rental of tuna fishing opportunities within the Nauru Exclusive Economic zone generates significant revenue. Tourism is not a major contributor to the economy because there is little to see or do, and there are few facilities for tourists. The Menen Hotel
Menen Hotel
-Description:It was built in 1969 by Nelson Architects, and was once considered one of the most comfortable in the Pacific. It has 119 guest rooms and conference room facilities for up to 200 people. Amenities include television, video, fridge, tea and coffee making facilities...

 and the OD-N-Aiwo Hotel
OD-N-Aiwo Hotel
The OD-N-Aiwo Hotel is located in Aiwo on the Pacific island state of Nauru; it is smaller of the only two hotels in Nauru, the other being the Menen Hotel.-Features:...

 are the only two hotels on the island.

In the 1990s, Nauru became a tax haven
Tax haven
A tax haven is a state or a country or territory where certain taxes are levied at a low rate or not at all while offering due process, good governance and a low corruption rate....

 and it offered passports to foreign nationals for a fee. The inter-governmental Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering
Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering
The Financial Action Task Force , also known by its French name, Groupe d'action financière , is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G7. The purpose of the FATF is to develop policies to combat money laundering and terrorist financing...

 (FATF) then identified Nauru as one of 15 "non-cooperative
FATF Blacklist
The FATF blacklist was the common shorthand description for the Financial Action Task Force list of "Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories" ; that is, countries which it perceived to be non-cooperative in the global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing...

" countries in its fight against money laundering
Money laundering
Money laundering is the process of disguising illegal sources of money so that it looks like it came from legal sources. The methods by which money may be laundered are varied and can range in sophistication. Many regulatory and governmental authorities quote estimates each year for the amount...

. During the 1990s, it was possible to establish a licensed bank in Nauru for only $25,000 with no other requirements. Under pressure from FATF, Nauru introduced anti-avoidance legislation in 2003, after which foreign hot money
Hot money
Hot money is a term that is most commonly used in financial markets to refer to the flow of funds from one country to another in order to earn a short-term profit on interest rate differences and/or anticipated exchange rate shifts...

 left the country. In October 2005, after satisfactory results from the legislation and its enforcement, FATF lifted the non-cooperative designation.

From 2001 to 2007, the Nauru detention centre
Nauru detention centre
The detention center on the South Pacific island nation of Nauru was based on a Statement of Principles, signed on 10 September 2001 by the President of Nauru, René Harris, and Australia's then Minister for Defence, Peter Reith. The statement opened the way to establish a detention center for up...

 provided a source of income for Nauru. The Nauruan authorities reacted with concern to its closure by Australia. In February 2008, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Kieren Keke
Kieren Keke
Kieren Aedogan Ankwong Keke is a Nauruan politician and medical doctor. He is currently the Minister of Foreign Affairs and has previously been speaker of the Nauruan Parliament.-Background:...

, stated that it would result in 100 Nauruans losing their jobs, and would affect 10% of the island's population directly or indirectly: :"We have got a huge number of families that are suddenly going to be without any income. We are looking at ways we can try and provide some welfare assistance but our capacity to do that is very limited. Literally we have got a major unemployment crisis in front of us."

Demographics


Nauru had 9,265 residents at end of 2006. The population was previously larger, but in 2006 some 1500 people left the island during a repatriation of immigrant workers from Kiribati
Kiribati
Kiribati , officially the Republic of Kiribati, is an island nation located in the central tropical Pacific Ocean. The permanent population exceeds just over 100,000 , and is composed of 32 atolls and one raised coral island, dispersed over 3.5 million square kilometres, straddling the...

 and Tuvalu
Tuvalu
Tuvalu , formerly known as the Ellice Islands, is a Polynesian island nation located in the Pacific Ocean, midway between Hawaii and Australia. Its nearest neighbours are Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa and Fiji. It comprises four reef islands and five true atolls...

. The repatriation was motivated by wide-scale reductions-in-force in the phosphate mining industry. The official language of Nauru is Nauruan
Nauruan language
The Nauruan language is an Austronesian language spoken in Nauru. It is estimated that it has 7,000 speakers. Almost all speakers are bilingual in English....

, a distinct Pacific island language, which is spoken by 96% of ethnic Nauruans at home. English is widely spoken and it is the language of government and commerce, as Nauruan is not common outside of the country.
The top ethnic groups of Nauru are Nauruan
Nauruan people
The indigenous peoples of Nauru are an ethnicity, which inhabit the Pacific island of Nauru. They are most likely a blend of other Pacific peoples....

 (58%), other Pacific Islander (26%), European
European ethnic groups
The ethnic groups in Europe are the various ethnic groups that reside in the nations of Europe. European ethnology is the field of anthropology focusing on Europe....

 (8%), and Chinese (8%). All Europeans are of British origin, and most of these have left since independence. The main religion practiced on the island
Religion in Nauru
Christianity is the primary religion in Nauru. According to the 2002 census, approximately two-thirds of Christians are Protestant, and the remainder are Catholic.The largest denomination is the Nauru Congregational Church. The ethnic Chinese on the island, approximately 3 to 4 percent of the...

 is Christianity (two-thirds Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

, one-third Roman Catholic). There is also a sizeable Bahá'í
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

 population (10%) – the largest proportion of any country in the world – and a Buddhist
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 population (9%) and a Muslim
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 population (2.2%). The Constitution provides for freedom of religion
Freedom of religion
Freedom of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance; the concept is generally recognized also to include the freedom to change religion or not to follow any...

. However, the government restricts this right in some circumstances, and it has restricted the practice of religion by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and members of the Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual...

, most of whom are foreign workers employed by the government-owned Nauru Phosphate Corporation.

Literacy
Literacy
Literacy has traditionally been described as the ability to read for knowledge, write coherently and think critically about printed material.Literacy represents the lifelong, intellectual process of gaining meaning from print...

 on Nauru is 96%, and education is compulsory for children from six to 15 years old, and two more non-compulsory years are offered (years 11 and 12). There is a campus of the University of the South Pacific
University of the South Pacific
The University of the South Pacific is a public university with a number of locations spread throughout a dozen countries in Oceania. It is an international centre for teaching and research on Pacific culture and environment. USP's academic programmes are recognised worldwide, attracting students...

 on Nauru. Before this school was built, eligible students travelled to Australia, New Zealand, etc., for their college educations.

Nauruans are the most obese
Obesity
Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems...

 people in the world. 90% of adults have a higher BMI than the world average. 97% of men and 93% of women are overweight or obese. Nauru has the world's highest level of type 2 diabetes
Diabetes mellitus type 2
Diabetes mellitus type 2formerly non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus or adult-onset diabetesis a metabolic disorder that is characterized by high blood glucose in the context of insulin resistance and relative insulin deficiency. Diabetes is often initially managed by increasing exercise and...

, with more than 40% of the population affected, 47% in American Samoa, 44% in Tokelau. Other significant dietary-related problems on Nauru include kidney disease
Renal failure
Renal failure or kidney failure describes a medical condition in which the kidneys fail to adequately filter toxins and waste products from the blood...

 and heart disease
Heart disease
Heart disease, cardiac disease or cardiopathy is an umbrella term for a variety of diseases affecting the heart. , it is the leading cause of death in the United States, England, Canada and Wales, accounting for 25.4% of the total deaths in the United States.-Types:-Coronary heart disease:Coronary...

. Life expectancy on Nauru in 2009 was 60.6 years for males and 68.0 years for females.

Culture


Nauruans descended from Polynesian and Micronesian seafarers who believed in a female deity
Nauruan indigenous religion
The Nauruan indigenous religion is a monotheistic system of belief that includes a female deity called Eijebong and an island of spirits called Buitani. Believers say that the sky and the earth were created by a spider called Areop-Enap...

, Eijebong, and a spirit land, an island called Buitani. Two of the 12 original tribal groups became extinct in the 20th century. Angam Day
Angam Day
Angam Day is a holiday recognized in the Republic of Nauru. It is celebrated yearly on October 26.-Etymology:The Nauruan word angam means "jubilation", "celebration", "to have triumphed over all hardships" or "to have reached a set goal" or "coming home".-General:Angam Day is a day of celebration...

, held on 26 October, celebrates the recovery of the Nauruan population after the two World Wars, which together reduced the indigenous population to fewer than 1500. The displacement of the indigenous culture by colonial and contemporary, western influences is significant. Few of the old customs have been preserved, but some forms of traditional music, arts and crafts, and fishing are still practiced.

There are no daily news publications on Nauru, although there is one fortnightly publication, "Mwinen Ko", meaning 'let's talk about it'. There is a state-owned television station, Nauru Television (NTV), which broadcasts programmes from New Zealand and Australia, and there is a state-owned non-commercial radio station, Radio Nauru, which carries programs from Radio Australia
Radio Australia
Radio Australia is the international broadcasting and online service operated by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation , Australia's public broadcaster.- History :...

 and the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

.

Australian rules football
Australian rules football
Australian rules football, officially known as Australian football, also called football, Aussie rules or footy is a sport played between two teams of 22 players on either...

 is the most popular sport in Nauru. There is a football league
Australian rules football in Nauru
Australian rules football in Nauru dates back to the 1930s and quickly established itself, along with weightlifting as the national sport of the country.The overall participation rate of over 30% is the highest for the sport in the world.-Structure:...

 with seven teams. All games are played at the Linkbelt Oval
Linkbelt Oval
Linkbelt Oval is currently the only sports stadium of the island nation of Nauru, besides Menen Stadium. It is located in Aiwo and was constructed by the Nauru Phosphate Corporation...

, one of only two stadiums in Nauru. Other sports popular in Nauru include volleyball, netball, weightlifting, fishing and tennis. Nauru participates in the Commonwealth Games
Commonwealth Games
The Commonwealth Games is an international, multi-sport event involving athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations. The event was first held in 1930 and takes place every four years....

 and the Summer Olympic Games, where team members have been somewhat successful in weightlifting. Marcus Stephen
Marcus Stephen
Marcus Stephen was President of the Republic of Nauru from December 2007 to November 2011. In addition to the presidency, he held the offices of Minister for Home Affairs, Minister for the Nauru Phosphate Royalties Trust, Minister for Police, Prisons, & Emergency Services, and Minister for Public...

 has been a medallist, and he was elected to Parliament in 2003, and was elected as President of Nauru in 2007.

A traditional activity is catching noddy terns
Noddy (tern)
Noddies are members of the tern family Sternidae in the genera Anous, Procelsterna, and Gygis. They are a tropical group, characterised by the notch-wedge shaped tail; coastal and pelagic oceanic...

 when they return from foraging at sea. At sunset, men stand on the beach ready to throw their lasso
Lasso
A lasso , also referred to as a lariat, riata, or reata , is a loop of rope that is designed to be thrown around a target and tighten when pulled. It is a well-known tool of the American cowboy. The word is also a verb; to lasso is to successfully throw the loop of rope around something...

s at the incoming birds. The Nauruan lasso is supple rope with a weight at the end. When a bird approaches, the lasso is thrown up, hits or drapes itself over the bird, which falls to the ground. The noddy is then killed, plucked, cleaned, cooked, and eaten.

Further reading

  • John M. Gowdy, Carl N. McDaniel (2000). Paradise for Sale: A Parable of Nature. Berkeley, U.S.; Los Angeles, U.S.; London, U.K.: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-22229-8.

External links