Interesting facts about Nauru

nauru flag

Nauru is an island nation in the South Pacific Ocean.

The official name of the country is the Republic of Nauru.

As an island nation, Nauru shares no land borders. However, nearby islands include Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.

Nauru is situated 42 kilometers (26 miles) south of the equator.

nauru world map

Geographically, the country is part of the larger island group of Micronesia.

Nauru has two official languages: Nauruan and English.

As of 1 January 2017, the population of Nauru was estimated to be 10,324 people. It is the second most least populous country in the world after Vatican City.

With an area of 21 square kilometers (8.1 square miles), Nauru is the third smallest country by area in the world, behind only Vatican City and Monaco. It is also the smallest Island country in the world and the world’s smallest republic.

Nauru is oval-shaped island with 30 kilometers (19 miles) of coastline.

nauru satellite image

The island is surrounded by a coral reef, which is exposed at low tide and dotted with pinnacles.

A sandy beach rises to the fertile ring around raised coral reef.

nauru beach

A fertile coastal strip 150 to 300 meters (490 to 980 ft) wide lies inland from the beach.

The interior phosphate plateau, comprising 60% of the land area, has been extensively mined, leaving a jagged and pitted landscape.

Command Ridge is the highest point of Nauru, with an elevation of 65 meters (213 feet).

Buada Lagoon is a landlocked, slightly brackish, freshwater lake of Buada District in the island nation of Nauru. It is about 0.13 square kilometers (0.05 square miles). The average depth of the lagoon is 24 meters (78 feet) and the maximum depth is 78 meters (256 feet).

buada lagoon

Nauru does not have an official capital, but Yaren is the largest settlement and the seat of parliament.

Nauru was first inhabited by Micronesians and Polynesians at least 3,000 years ago. There were traditionally 12 clans or tribes on Nauru, which are represented in the 12-pointed star on the country’s flag.

The British sea captain John Fearn, a whale hunter, became the first Westerner to visit Nauru in 1798, calling it “Pleasant Island”.

Nauruan indigenous religion was the predominant religion in Nauru before the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when foreign missionaries introduced Christianity to the island.

nauru missionary

After an agreement with Great Britain, Nauru was annexed by Germany in 1888 and incorporated into Germany’s Marshall Islands Protectorate for administrative purposes.

In 1914, following the outbreak of World War I, Nauru was captured by Australian troops. In 1919 it was agreed by the Allied and Associated Powers that His Britannic Majesty should be the administering authority under a League of Nations mandate.

During World War II, Nauru was subject to significant damage from both Axis (German and Japanese) and Allied forces.

nauru WWII

Japanese troops occupied Nauru on 26 August 1942.

Nauru was finally set free from the Japanese on 13 September 1945, when Captain Solda, the commander of all the Japanese troops on Nauru, surrendered the island to the Royal Australian Navy and Army.

In 1947, a trusteeship was established by the United Nations, with Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom as trustees.

Nauru became self-governing in January 1966. On 31 January 1968, following a two-year constitutional convention, Nauru became the world’s smallest independent republic.

In the years after independence in 1968, Nauru possessed the highest GDP per capita in the world due to its rich phosphate deposits. The phosphate deposits originate from the droppings of sea birds.

mining nauru

In anticipation of the exhaustion of its phosphate deposits, substantial amounts of the income from phosphates were invested in trust funds aimed to help cushion the transition and provide for Nauru’s economic future.

Because of mismanagement, the Trust’s fixed and current assets were reduced considerably and may never fully recover.

Mining of phosphate ceased after the exhaustion of the primary phosphate reserves, but in 2006–07 mining of a deeper layer of “secondary phosphate” began. It is hoped that this economic activity might lift Nauru from the bottom rung of global GDP per capita. The only other major source of government revenue is sale of fishing rights in Nauru’s territorial waters.

The unemployment rate is estimated to be 90%, and of those who have jobs, the government employs 95%.

Historically Nauru was regarded as a tax haven due to the operation of its international financial center, which offered amongst other things offshore banking services.

In 2001, Nauru was blacklisted internationally over concerns it had become a haven for money laundering.

On October 1, 2014, an income tax was imposed in Nauru for the first time, with high income earners paying a flat rate of 10%.

58% of people in Nauru are ethnically Nauruan, 26% are other Pacific Islander, 8% are European, and 8% are Chinese.

The climate is tropical with a monsoonial rainy season from November to February.

Nauru is the least-visited country in the world with only around 200 tourists a year visiting the island.

The name “Nauru” may derive from the Nauruan word Anáoero, which means “I go to the beach”.