Facts about Nauru

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NauruThe exact origins of the Nauruans are unclear, since their language does not resemble any other in the Pacific. The island was annexed by Germany in 1888 and its phosphate deposits began to be mined early in the 20th century by a German-British consortium. Nauru was occupied by Australian forces in World War I and subsequently became a League of Nations mandate. After the Second World War - and a brutal occupation by Japan - Nauru became a UN trust territory. It achieved its independence in 1968 and joined the UN in 1999 as the world's smallest independent republic.

Geography of Nauru

Oceania, island in the South Pacific Ocean, south of the Marshall Islands
0 32 S, 166 55 E
total: 21 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 21 sq km
Area comparative:
about 0.1 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries:
0 km
30 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
tropical; monsoonal; rainy season (November to February)
sandy beach rises to fertile ring around raised coral reefs with phosphate plateau in center
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location along plateau rim 61 m
Natural resources:
phosphates, fish
Natural hazards:
periodic droughts
Environment current issues:
limited natural fresh water resources, roof storage tanks collect rainwater, but mostly dependent on a single, aging desalination plant; intensive phosphate mining during the past 90 years - mainly by a UK, Australia, and NZ consortium - has left the central 90% of Nauru a wasteland and threatens limited remaining land resources
Geography - note:
Nauru is one of the three great phosphate rock islands in the Pacific Ocean - the others are Banaba (Ocean Island) in Kiribati and Makatea in French Polynesia; only 53 km south of Equator

Population of Nauru

13,770 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 36.9% (male 2,507/female 2,391)
15-64 years: 61.2% (male 4,004/female 4,123)
65 years and over: 2% (male 139/female 123)
Median age:
20.6 years
Growth rate:
Infant mortality:
9.78 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 63.08 years
male: 59.5 years
female: 66.84 years
Fertility rate:
3.11 children born/woman
noun: Nauruan(s)
adjective: Nauruan
Ethnic groups:
Nauruan 58%, other Pacific Islander 26%, Chinese 8%, European 8%
Christian (two-thirds Protestant, one-third Roman Catholic)
Nauruan (official, a distinct Pacific Island language), English widely understood, spoken, and used for most government and commercial purposes


Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Nauru
former: Pleasant Island
Government type:
no official capital; government offices in Yaren District
Administrative divisions:
14 districts; Aiwo, Anabar, Anetan, Anibare, Baiti, Boe, Buada, Denigomodu, Ewa, Ijuw, Meneng, Nibok, Uaboe, Yaren
31 January 1968 (from the Australia-, NZ-, and UK-administered UN trusteeship)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 31 January (1968)
29 January 1968
Legal system:
acts of the Nauru Parliament and British common law
20 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Marcus STEPHEN (since 19 December 2007); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Marcus STEPHEN (since 19 December 2007); note - President Ludwig SCOTTY defeated in a no confidence vote in parliament on 19 December 2007
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president from among the members of Parliament
elections: president elected by Parliament for a three-year term; election last held 19 December 2007.
Legislative branch:
unicameral Parliament (18 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve three-year terms)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court
Political parties and leaders:
loose multiparty system; Democratic Party [Kennan ADEANG]; Nauru Party (informal); Nauru First (Naoero Amo) Party


Revenues of this tiny island have traditionally come from exports of phosphates, now significantly depleted. An Australian company in 2005 entered into an agreement intended to exploit remaining supplies. Few other resources exist with most necessities being imported, mainly from Australia, its former occupier and later major source of support. The rehabilitation of mined land and the replacement of income from phosphates are serious long-term problems. In anticipation of the exhaustion of Nauru's phosphate deposits, substantial amounts of phosphate income were invested in trust funds to help cushion the transition and provide for Nauru's economic future. As a result of heavy spending from the trust funds, the government faces virtual bankruptcy. To cut costs the government has frozen wages and reduced overstaffed public service departments. In 2005, the deterioration in housing, hospitals, and other capital plant continued, and the cost to Australia of keeping the government and economy afloat continued to climb. Few comprehensive statistics on the Nauru economy exist, with estimates of Nauru's GDP varying widely.

$60 million (2005 est.)
GDP per capita:
Inflation rate:
Labor force - by occupation:
employed in mining phosphates, public administration, education, and transportation
revenues: $13.5 million
expenditures: $13.5 million
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
other: 0% 
phosphate mining, offshore banking, coconut products
Export partners:
South Africa 57%, India 15.5%, Canada 5.6% 
food, fuel, manufactures, building materials, machinery
Import partners:
Australia 57.2%, US 9.3%, Germany 7.8%, Indonesia 7.4%
Australian dollar (AUD)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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