Nauru was occupied by Germany in 1888. In the early 20th century, a
German-British consortium mined its phosphate deposits, and the
Europeans named it Pleasant Island. During World War I, Australia
occupied the island. Later, Nauru became a League of Nations mandate.
World War II led to a brutal Japanese occupation, followed by a joint
Australian, New Zealand and British administration when Nauru became a
UN trust territory. Nauru became independent in 1968. It joined the UN
in 1999 as the world’s smallest independent republic.
Nauru’s main source of income, its phosphate deposits, are nearly
exhausted, and according to some western sources, the island’s future
is unclear, especially since Nauru imports everything, from food to
water to fuel. Recent financial crises nearly bankrupted the country,
when it had to sell its properties in Australia to raise money for the
millions of dollars it owed to an American company. The government is
making attempts to diversify, adding tourism and offshore banking as
sources of income.
In 2001, Nauru agreed to shelter detained asylum seekers from Australia
in exchange for millions of dollars in aid. Australia ended the
“Pacific Solution” program in 2008 and is now providing financial
expertise to Nauru to help sort out its problems
The current president of Nauru is Marcus Stephens, a former
professional weightlifter and Commonwealth Games medalist. Stephens was
sworn in as president in December 2007, after his predecessor, Ludwig
Scotty, was defeated in a no-confidence motion in the 18-member
parliament. To resolve a budget crisis in the parliament, Stephens
imposed a state of emergency and dissolved parliament. His party has
since won a majority in the April 2008 elections.
Sources: BBC, International Crisis Group, CIA World Factbook.
Republic of Nauru
Form of Government:
Year of Independence:
1968 (from the Australia-, NZ-, and UK-administered UN trusteeship)
No official capital; government offices in Yaren District
Nauru Congregational 35.4%, Roman Catholic 33.2%, Nauru Independent Church 10.4%, other 14.1%, none 4.5%, unspecified 2.4% (2002 census)
21 sq km (8 sq miles)
Nauruan (official, a distinct Pacific Island language); English widely understood, spoken, and used for most government and commercial purposes
61 years (men), 68 years (women)
1 Australian dollar = 100 cents
GDP - Per Capita (PPP):
$5,000 (2005 est.)
International Dialing Code: