Nauruan, n., adj.
/nah ooh"rooh/, n.
Republic of, an island republic in the Pacific, near the equator, W of the Gilbert Islands: administered by Australia before 1968. 8007; 81/4 sq. mi. (21 sq. km). Formerly, Pleasant Island.

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Introduction Nauru
Background: Nauru's phosphate deposits began to be mined early in the 20th century by a German-British consortium; the island was occupied by Australian forces in World War I. Nauru achieved independence in 1968 and joined the UN in 1999. Nauru is the world's smallest independent republic. Geography Nauru -
Location: Oceania, island in the South Pacific Ocean, south of the Marshall Islands
Geographic coordinates: 0 32 S, 166 55 E
Map references: Oceania
Area: 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
Coastline: 30 km
Maritime claims: contiguous zone: 24 NM territorial sea: 12 NM exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
Climate: tropical; monsoonal; rainy season (November to February)
Terrain: 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
Land use: arable land: 0% permanent crops: 0% other: 100% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: NA sq km
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 Environment - international party to: Biodiversity, Climate
agreements: Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
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 People Nauru
Population: 12,329 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 39.6% (male 2,515; female 2,366) 15-64 years: 58.7% (male 3,578; female 3,656) 65 years and over: 1.7% (male 108; female 106) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.96% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 26.6 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 7.06 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 1.02 male(s)/ female total population: 1.01 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 10.52 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 61.57 years female: 65.26 years (2002 est.) male: 58.05 years
Total fertility rate: 3.5 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA% HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Nauruan(s) adjective: Nauruan
Ethnic groups: Nauruan 58%, other Pacific Islander 26%, Chinese 8%, European 8%
Religions: Christian (two-thirds Protestant, one-third Roman Catholic)
Languages: Nauruan (official, a distinct Pacific Island language), English widely understood, spoken, and used for most government and commercial purposes
Literacy: definition: NA total population: NA% male: NA% female: NA% Government Nauru
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Nauru conventional short form: Nauru former: Pleasant Island
Government type: republic
Capital: 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
Independence: 31 January 1968 (from the Australia-, NZ-, and UK-administered UN trusteeship)
National holiday: Independence Day, 31 January (1968)
Constitution: 29 January 1968
Legal system: acts of the Nauru Parliament and British common law
Suffrage: 20 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch: chief of state: President Rene HARRIS (since 30 March 2001); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government elections: president elected by Parliament for a three-year term; election last held NA March 2001 (next to be held NA 2004) election results: Rene HARRIS elected president; percent of Parliamentary vote - NA% cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president from among the members of Parliament head of government: President Rene HARRIS (since 30 March 2001); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
Legislative branch: unicameral Parliament (18 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve three-year terms) elections: last held 9 April 2000 (next to be held NA April 2003) election results: percent of vote - NA%; seats - independents 18
Judicial branch: Supreme Court Political parties and leaders: loose multiparty system; Democratic Party [Kennan ADEANG]; Nauru Party (informal) [Bernard DOWIYOGO] Political pressure groups and NA
leaders: International organization ACP, AsDB, C, ESCAP, FAO, ICAO,
participation: Interpol, IOC, ITU, OPCW, Sparteca, SPC, SPF, UN, UNESCO, UPU, WHO Diplomatic representation in the US: Nauru does not have an embassy in the US, but does have a UN office at 800 2nd Avenue, Suite 400 D, New York, New York 10017; telephone: (212) 937-0074 consulate(s): Hagatna (Guam) Diplomatic representation from the the US does not have an embassy in
US: Nauru; the US Ambassador to Fiji is accredited to Nauru
Flag description: blue with a narrow, horizontal, yellow stripe across the center and a large white 12-pointed star below the stripe on the hoist side; the star indicates the country's location in relation to the Equator (the yellow stripe) and the 12 points symbolize the 12 original tribes of Nauru Economy Nauru -
Economy - overview: Revenues of this tiny island have come from exports of phosphates, but reserves are expected to be exhausted within a few years. Phosphate production has declined since 1989, as demand has fallen in traditional markets and as the marginal cost of extracting the remaining phosphate increases, making it less internationally competitive. While phosphates have given Nauruans one of the highest per capita incomes in the Third World, few other resources exist with most necessities being imported, including fresh water from Australia. 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 have been invested in trust funds to help cushion the transition and provide for Nauru's economic future. The government has been borrowing heavily from the trusts to finance fiscal deficits. To cut costs the government has called for a freeze on wages, a reduction of over- staffed public service departments, privatization of numerous government agencies, and closure of some overseas consulates. In recent years Nauru has encouraged the registration of offshore banks and corporations. Tens of billions of dollars have been channeled through their accounts. Few comprehensive statistics on the Nauru economy exist, with estimates of Nauru's per capita GDP varying widely.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $60 million (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: NA%
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $5,000 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: NA% industry: NA% services: NA% Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA% Inflation rate (consumer prices): -3.6% (1993) Labor force - by occupation: employed in mining phosphates, public administration, education, and transportation
Unemployment rate: 0%
Budget: revenues: $23.4 million expenditures: $64.8 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY95/96)
Industries: phosphate mining, offshore banking, coconut products Industrial production growth rate: NA% Electricity - production: 30 million kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 100% hydro: 0% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 27.9 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: coconuts
Exports: $25.3 million (f.o.b., 1991)
Exports - commodities: phosphates
Exports - partners: NZ, Australia, South Korea, US (2000)
Imports: $21.1 million (c.i.f., 1991)
Imports - commodities: food, fuel, manufactures, building materials, machinery
Imports - partners: Australia, US, UK, Indonesia, India (2000)
Debt - external: $33.3 million Economic aid - recipient: $2.25 million from Australia (FY96/ 97 est.)
Currency: Australian dollar (AUD)
Currency code: AUD
Exchange rates: Australian dollars per US dollar - 1.9354 (January 2002) 1.9320 (2001), 1.7173 (2000), 1.5497 (1999), 1.5888 (1998), 1.3439 (1997)
Fiscal year: 1 July - 30 June Communications Nauru Telephones - main lines in use: 2,000 (1996) Telephones - mobile cellular: 450 (1994)
Telephone system: general assessment: adequate local and international radiotelephone communication provided via Australian facilities domestic: NA international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean) Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 0, shortwave 0 (1998)
Radios: 7,000 (1997) Television broadcast stations: 1 (1997)
Televisions: 500 (1997)
Internet country code: .nr Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: NA Transportation Nauru
Railways: total: 5 km note: gauge unknown; used to haul phosphates from the center of the island to processing facilities on the southwest coast (2001)
Highways: total: 30 km paved: 24 km unpaved: 6 km (1998 est.)
Waterways: none
Ports and harbors: Nauru
Merchant marine: none (2002 est.)
Airports: 1 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 1 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2001) Military Nauru
Military branches: no regular military forces; Nauru Police Force Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 3,103 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 1,710 (2002 est.)
service: Military expenditures - dollar $NA
figure: Military expenditures - percent of NA%
Military - note: Nauru maintains no defense forces; under an informal agreement, defense is the responsibility of Australia Transnational Issues Nauru Disputes - international: none

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officially Republic of Nauru

Island country, southeastern Micronesia, South Pacific Ocean.

Area: 8 sq mi (21 sq km). Population (2002): 12,300. Capital: Yaren. About three-fifths of the population are indigenous Nauruans of Polynesian, Micronesian, and Melanesian ancestry. Language: Nauruan, English. Religion: Christianity (predominantly). Currency: Australian dollar. Nauru is a coral island with a central plateau 100–200 ft (30–60 m) high. A thin strip of fertile land encircling the island is the major zone of human settlement. It lacks harbours, and ships must anchor to buoys beyond a reef. Nauru had the world's largest concentration of phosphate, and its economy was formerly based on phosphate mining and processing; deposits are now depleted and the economy is being converted to fishing and other ventures. Nauru is a republic with one legislative house; its head of state and government is the president. It was inhabited by Pacific islanders when the first British explorers arrived in 1798 and named it Pleasant Island because of their friendly welcome. Annexed by Germany in 1888, it was occupied by Australia at the start of World War I, and in 1919 it was placed under a joint mandate of Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. During World War II it was occupied by the Japanese. Made a UN trust territory under Australian administration in 1947, Nauru gained complete independence in 1968 and joined the British Commonwealth in 1969. During the mid-1990s it suffered political unrest.

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▪ 2009

21.2 sq km (8.2 sq mi)
(2008 est.): 10,200
Government offices in Yaren district
Head of state and government:
President Marcus Stephen

      On Jan. 31, 2008, Nauru celebrated 40 years of independence from Australia, with Taiwanese Vice Pres. Annette Lu attending the ceremony as guest of honour. Meanwhile, constitutional wrangling caused political deadlock in Nauru. Rules banning any MP with dual citizenship were passed in late March during an Easter Saturday session of Parliament attended only by opposition MPs (Chief Justice Robin Millhouse later declared the session invalid). Pres. Marcus Stephens responded by dissolving Parliament and calling a snap election, from which he emerged with an increased majority of 12 seats in the 18-seat Parliament.

      In February a group of Sri Lankan refugees left Nauru for Australia. They were the last asylum seekers to be detained at Australia's controversial offshore processing centre. Nauru's economy was badly affected by Australia's decision to close the establishment. Finance Minister Kieren Keke (who held dual Nauruan-Australian citizenship) predicted that the closure would cut economic activity on the island by 20%. In Nauru each individual, he explained, supported a number of families in a kinship system, so the loss of 100 jobs would probably have an impact on 1,000 people, or 10% of the population. Former president René Harris (Harris, Rene Reynaldo ), who negotiated the original processing-centre deal with Australia, died in July. On a brighter note, Keke announced in September that Nauru was again making money from phosphate mining, as the global food crisis had driven up the price of fertilizer.

A.R.G. Griffiths

▪ 2008

21.2 sq km (8.2 sq mi)
(2007 est.): 10,200
Government offices in Yaren district
Head of state and government:
Presidents Ludwig Scottyand, from December 19, Marcus Stephen

      In March 2007, 82 Sri Lankan boat people arrived in Nauru from Australia for detention as part of the Australian policy of preventing refugees from being processed for asylum on the Australian mainland. On a visit to Nauru in July, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer signed an agreement for Australia to provide an additional U.S.$15 million in aid to Nauru, though both countries denied that the money was a direct payment for detention facilities. In September, 72 of the Sri Lankans were granted refugee status, but they remained in detention on Nauru.

      Because Nauru's traditional source of national income, its phosphate deposits, was all but depleted, the government welcomed Australia's decision to retain Nauru for offshore processing of asylum seekers, and the subject was not an issue in Nauru's general elections on August 25. Pres. Ludwig Scotty was reelected in a landslide vote. The only opposition member to get another term was former president Rene Harris. There were claims made that Scotty's victory was obtained by bribery with funds, known locally as grass roots money, provided to the Nauruan government by Taiwan. Scotty was ousted in a no-confidence vote on December 19, having failed to act on corruption charges leveled against Foreign Minister David Adeang. Marcus Stephen replaced Scotty as president.

A.R.G. Griffiths

▪ 2007

21.2 sq km (8.2 sq mi)
(2006 est.): 10,100
Government offices in Yaren district
Head of state and government:
President Ludwig Scotty

      Nauru entered 2006 without its air link to the outside world. The Australian High Court ruled in late 2005 that Nauru's only commercial passenger jet, an Air Nauru 737, had to be surrendered to the U.S. government, which claimed ownership on the basis of Nauru's failure to make loan payments on the plane. Nauru counterclaimed that the U.S. had promised substantial aid if the country scrapped its offshore banking and passport schemes. In June 2006 Air Nauru purchased a replacement airplane with Taiwanese financial assistance.

      Disagreement and controversy continued between Nauru and Australia over Canberra's “Pacific solution,” which involved processing applicants for refugee status in Australia in an Australian-run detention centre on Nauru. In an effort to speed up the process, Nauru imposed a penalty visa fee for all asylum seekers not processed within a year. Despite protests from Nauru Foreign Minister David Adeang, Australia refused to pay the fee for Mohammed Sagar, who was considered such a security risk that he had been held on Nauru for five years with no prospect of resettlement in sight.

      Pres. Ludwig Scotty addressed the UN General Assembly in New York City in September. Nauru, which received generous aid from Taiwan, led a protest in the UN regarding Taiwan's stalled attempt to join the international body. Scotty complained that the employment of procedural tricks deprived Nauru of the right to be heard and brought into question the universality of the UN.

A.R.G. Griffiths

▪ 2006

21.2 sq km (8.2 sq mi)
(2005 est.): 10,200
Government offices in Yaren district
Head of state and government:
President Ludwig Scotty

      A report from the Asian Development Bank showed the economy of Nauru to be in a critical condition in 2005. According to the ADB, the fiscal 2004–05 budget approved by Nauru's Parliament in late October 2004 represented a fundamental change in the country's approach to fiscal management and indicated that Nauru had acknowledged that it was in financial crisis and that expenditures needed to be reduced. Pres. Ludwig Scotty's government scaled down diplomatic representation in Australia and the U.S., cut expenditure on Nauruans receiving medical treatment and studying in Australia, and transferred overseas Nauruan students from Australian to Fijian educational institutions. Outstanding loans were called in, including one from the Cook Islands, which had borrowed funds from Nauru to build a national auditorium. Nauru reduced the interest on the loan, and the Cook Islands arranged for early repayment of the final installments, which had been due in December 2005 and June 2006.

      Criticism continued over Australia's policy of holding on Nauru asylum seekers who were said to be depressed and suicidal. In September, Australian Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone approved a visit to Nauru by mental health experts to assess the condition of the remaining 27 detainees, most of whom were Iraqis and Afghans.

A.R.G. Griffiths

▪ 2005

21.2 sq km (8.2 sq mi)
(2004 est.): 10,100
Government offices in Yaren district
Head of state and government:
Presidents René Harris and, from June 22, Ludwig Scotty

      Constitutional problems combined with a funding crisis to cripple Nauru's economy in 2004. Early in the year, while Pres. René Harris and Finance Minister Kinza Clodumar were on a prolonged financial aid-seeking trip to Australia, Parliament passed laws to prevent the government from spending money without prior parliamentary approval. For six weeks Nauru's Parliament was unable to pass the budget because neither the government nor the opposition (each with nine seats) was prepared to lose a vote by nominating a speaker. In late May the opposition suddenly elected David Adeang parliamentary speaker and passed several private members' bills, including one regarding the examination of allegations of illegal passport sales and another that required all MPs to divulge property holdings and business interests.

      On June 22 Harris's government collapsed in a vote of no-confidence after one of his supporters changed sides, and former president Ludwig Scotty was returned to office. At the Pacific Islands Forum in Samoa in August, the new president told Australian Prime Minister John Howard that the Nauruan economy would be badly affected if Australia did not increase its $A 60 million (about U.S.$42 million) aid package. The financial plight of Nauru was worsened by the failure of property-development schemes and the Australian decision to reduce reliance on Nauru as an offshore point of detention for asylum seekers.

      On October 1 President Scotty abruptly dissolved the government, announced a state of emergency, and called a snap election for October 23. His supporters captured a solid majority with 15 of the 18 seats, and Scotty immediately announced a new cabinet with Adeang as both finance minister and foreign minister. A tough reformist budget was approved on October 27.

A.R.G. Griffiths

▪ 2004

21.2 sq km (8.2 sq mi)
(2003 est.): 12,600, excluding asylum seekers
Government offices in Yaren district
Head of state and government:
Presidents René Harris, Bernard Dowiyogo from January 9, Harris from January 17, Dowiyogo from January 18, Derog Gioura (acting) from March 10, Ludwig Scotty from May 29, and, from August 8, Harris

      There were many leadership changes in Nauru in 2003. The crises began when opposition members of Parliament passed a no-confidence motion against Pres. René Harris and sought to reinstall former president Bernard Dowiyogo. (See Obituaries (Dowiyogo, Bernard ).) Chief Justice Barry Connell ruled that since nine votes were needed to pass the motion of no-confidence and only eight MPs had voted, the vote was unconstitutional. Nevertheless, Harris was replaced as president in mid-January by Dowiyogo, who subsequently died in Washington, D.C. Derog Gioura served as acting president until an election was held in May; Ludwig Scotty was elected president, but he was unable to command Parliament's confidence. In August Harris returned to office.

      Harris continued to help Australia administer the “Pacific solution,” under which about 600 asylum seekers were camped on Nauru at Australia's expense while their refugee status was determined. Australia provided A$41 million (about $28 million) annually to cover the costs of the detention. The Weekend Australian revealed that Nauru was asked to use its diplomatic resources in Beijing to help smuggle senior North Korean scientists and military officers to Western countries in an intelligence mission that was code-named Operation Weasel.

A.R.G. Griffiths

▪ 2003

21.2 sq km (8.2 sq mi)
(2002 est.): 12,300, excluding asylum seekers
Government offices in Yaren district
Head of state and government:
President René Harris

      Nauru received economic assistance in 2002 in the form of A$30 million (about $16 million) in Australian goods and services for its role in housing refugees who had been denied access to Australia. What started out as Australia's “Pacific solution” and a bonus for Nauru turned into a source of antagonism toward Australia and its policy makers when it took more than 12 months to process asylum seekers. In late October 2002, 871 people were being held in Nauru, which placed great strains on infrastructure and created a political dilemma for Nauruan Pres. René Harris.

      The Australian government and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees categorized most people detained on Nauru as Afghans, but by mid-September only 133 Afghans had been determined to be genuine refugees and thus eligible for resettlement in Australia. The remaining asylum seekers waited for possible voluntary repatriation to Afghanistan with a grant of A$2,000 (about $1,100) per person for resettlement or forcible removal if they refused to go. As a result of this standoff and the time taken to process refugee applications, relationships deteriorated between the asylum seekers and Nauruans. In President Harris's view, the camp in Nauru demonstrated that the “Pacific solution” had become a “Pacific nightmare.” (See also Australia: Special Report (Strangers at the Gates: The Immigration Backlash ).)

A.R.G. Griffiths

▪ 2002

21.2 sq km (8.2 sq mi)
(2001 est.): 12,100
Government offices in Yaren district
Head of state and government:
Presidents Bernard Dowiyogo and, from March 30, Rene Harris

      Rene Harris returned as president following a vote of no-confidence against Pres. Bernard Dowiyogo in Nauru's Parliament on March 29, 2001. Dowiyogo lost his job over international criticism of Nauru's financial system and in particular over allegations of money laundering for the Russian mafia. Russia's central bank claimed that about $70 billion had been lost in transactions processed through Nauru's 400 offshore banks. In December the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering announced that it would take countermeasures against Nauru's failure to meet a November 30 deadline to address the shortcomings of its laws against money laundering.

      Relations with the U.S. proved difficult for Nauru in 2001. Nauru's ambassador to the UN, Vinci Clodumar, led regional opposition to a proposed U.S. missile defense system. Clodumar said that the development of the system was not in the best interest of the Pacific region, as it could lead to radioactive fallout from missile intercepts landing on Pacific islands.

      In September Nauru received UN approval to process several hundred refugees denied access to Australia and temporarily settled on Nauru. Under an agreement with Australia, Nauru would receive about $10 million in financial aid in exchange for processing the asylum seekers, most of whom were from Iraq or Afghanistan. (See Australia , above.)

A.R.G. Griffiths

▪ 2001

21.2 sq km (8.2 sq mi)
(2000 est.): 11,800
Government offices in Yaren district
Head of state and government:
Presidents Rene Harris and, from April 20, Bernard Dowiyogo

      On April 8, 2000, some 4,000 Nauruans voted in a general election. Rene Harris was reelected president by Parliament on April 13, but he resigned on April 20 after failing to form a government. He was replaced on that same day by Bernard Dowiyogo.

      Shortly after taking office, Dowiyogo vowed to combat money laundering by taking steps to reform and improve Nauru's offshore banking regime. Following reports that criminals were using the country's offshore banking facilities, Dowiyogo stressed that he and his countrymen did not approve of such activities and welcomed assistance from the United States to develop a system that would conform to international standards. Nauru had been identified by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development as a tax haven practicing such harmful tax competition that it would merit international sanctions.

      President Dowiyogo became the first head of state to declare support for the independence of the Indonesian province of West Papua (Irian Jaya). He called on members of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Union meeting in Nauru in May to support West Papuan independence.

A.R.G. Griffiths

▪ 2000

21.2 sq km (8.2 sq mi)
(1999 est.) 10,600
Government offices in Yaren district
Head of state and government:
Presidents Bernard Dowiyogo and, from April 28, Rene Harris

      On Jan. 15, 1999, the Asian Development Bank made its first loan agreement with Nauru, providing technical assistance grants in return for local measures to reduce government spending on public utilities. Pres. Bernard Dowiyogo, in his fifth term as president of the tiny Pacific nation, lost office after a no-confidence vote on April 27. Rene Harris, a veteran MP, replaced him. Harris was a former chairman of the Nauru Phosphate Corp. and the Nauru Pacific Lines.

      President Harris was immediately confronted with problems, notably Chinese pressure to force Nauru to abandon its support of Taiwan, with whom Nauru signed an economic cooperation agreement in June, in exchange for Beijing's support for Nauru's bid for membership in the United Nations. Harris declared that he would not surrender to bullying from China, and in July it was announced that Nauru would be admitted to the UN. On May 1 Nauru became a full member of the Commonwealth.

A.R.G. Griffiths

▪ 1999

      Area: 21.2 sq km (8.2 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 10,500

      Capital: Government offices in Yaren district

      Head of state and government: Presidents Kinza Clodumar and, from June 18, Bernard Dowiyogo

      Nauru increased its world stature in 1998 when Pres. Kinza Clodumar announced in January that the island republic would apply for full membership in the United Nations. Also during the year Clodumar's reputation as a leading voice in the Pacific environmental debate resulted in Nauru's becoming a full member of the Commonwealth. In the spring Clodumar told the Asian Development Bank board of governors, meeting in Geneva, that the current economic climate jeopardized many of the reforms being taken by Pacific Island governments at the urging of the Asian Development Bank.

      Clodumar's high international profile did not, however, prevent him from losing a no-confidence vote in the Nauruan parliament on June 18. Veteran politician Bernard Dowiyogo was subsequently elected (for the fifth time) president of Nauru by all 18 MPs.


▪ 1998

      Area: 21.2 sq km (8.2 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 10,400

      Capital: Government offices in Yaren district

      Head of state and government: Presidents Reuben Kun (interim) and, from February 13, Kinza Clodumar

      Declining phosphate prices, the high cost of maintaining an international airline, and investments that did not perform well combined to make governing difficult for Pres. Kinza Clodumar in 1997. Clodumar, who had previously served as finance minister, was elected president on February 13, becoming Nauru's fifth president in four months. Nauru's political upheavals began in the closing months of 1996. One of the world's smallest parliaments, with only 18 members, elected Kennan Adeang on November 26, replacing Bernard Dowiyogo, who had himself been elected on November 7 as a substitute for Lagumot Harris. Adeang was subsequently defeated in a no-confidence vote, and Reuben Kun acted as interim president until Clodumar was chosen. Clodumar made positive steps to consolidate Nauru's offshore investments, buying a major central business district building from the Victoria state government in Australia. Assuring his audience that Nauru was "very much on the move again," Clodumar said that Nauru would be sensitive to local feelings with its development proposals for the Southern Cross site at the corner of Burke and Exhibition streets in Melbourne.

      This article updates Nauru.

▪ 1997

      An island republic within the Commonwealth, Nauru lies in the Pacific Ocean about 1,900 km (1,200 mi) east of New Guinea. Area: 21 sq km (8 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 10,600. Cap.: Government offices in Yaren district. Monetary unit: Australian dollar, with (Oct. 11, 1996) a free rate of $A 1.26 to U.S. $1 ($A 1.99 = £1 sterling). Presidents in 1996, Lagumot Harris, Bernard Dowiyogo from November 11, and, from November 26, Kennan Adeang.

      In the face of economic downturn on Nauru, Lagumot Harris was elected on Nov. 22, 1995, to replace Bernard Dowiyogo as the nation's president. Accordingly, President Harris took strong measures in 1996 to redress deficiencies in the republic's economic condition, using the twin measures of reducing spending and increasing taxes. Wages of government workers were frozen for two years, some overseas consulates were closed, and some government departments were merged or privatized. To cut costs and improve revenue, a statutory authority was created to take control of the national airline. (A.R.G. GRIFFITHS)

      This article updates Nauru.

▪ 1996

      An island republic within the Commonwealth, Nauru lies in the Pacific Ocean about 1,900 km (1,200 mi) east of New Guinea. Area: 21 sq km (8 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 10,400. Cap.: Government offices in Yaren district. Monetary unit: Australian dollar, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of $A 1.31 to U.S. $1 ($A 2.08 = £1 sterling). President in 1995, Bernard Dowiyogo.

      In 1995 Nauruan Pres. Bernard Dowiyogo took a major role in leading Pacific opposition to the resumption of French nuclear bomb testing in French Polynesia. He declared that the tests were a blatant example of the arrogance of the French government and its unbridled colonial attitudes "from which we in the Pacific and all the world wish to escape." Nauru suspended diplomatic relations with France as a protest against the explosion of the first bomb of the planned series on Mururoa atoll on September 5. Nauru also boycotted the South Pacific Games in French Tahiti, and Dowiyogo traveled to France to express his opposition. At the South Pacific Forum meeting, held in Papua New Guinea soon after the first French nuclear test, Dowiyogo urged—unsuccessfully—the 16 members of the Forum to prevent the French minister for economic development and cooperation, Jacques Godfrain, from attending a post-Forum dialogue meeting.

      Amid allegations that his government had long been squandering revenue from Nauru's rich but now nearly depleted phosphate reserves, Dowiyogo lost a bid for reelection as president on November 22 to Lagumot Harris by a vote of 9-7 in Parliament, which had been elected on November 18. (A.R.G. GRIFFITHS)

      This updates the article Nauru.

▪ 1995

      An island republic within the Commonwealth, Nauru lies in the Pacific Ocean about 1,900 km (1,200 mi) east of New Guinea. Area: 21 sq km (8 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 10,200. Cap.: Government offices in Yaren district. Monetary unit: Australian dollar, with (Oct. 7, 1994) a free rate of $A 1.35 to U.S. $1 ($A 2.15 = £1 sterling). President in 1994, Bernard Dowiyogo.

      Nauru benefited in 1994 from the decision by the United Kingdom and New Zealand to help Australia pay $A 107 million as compensation for damage to the island caused by phosphate mining. For its part, Australia agreed to provide $A 2.5 million annually to Nauru for 20 years. Recognizing that they shared with Australia the responsibility for the colonial exploitation of Nauru by the British Phosphate Commission, New Zealand and the U.K. agreed to contribute $A 12 million each to help repair the damage. This prevented further action by Nauru, which had been seeking compensation in the international courts.

      A founding member of the Nauruan independence struggle, Buraro Detudamo, died in June. Detudamo was a member of the Nauruan delegation to Australia that led to the establishment of the republic.

      On a lighter note, the smallest republic on Earth was proud to join the Olympic family, Nauru having succeeded in its bid to be recognized as a member country of the International Olympic Committee. The nation's most notable athlete was Marcus Stephen, who won a gold medal for weight lifting at the 1990 Commonwealth Games.

      (A.R.G. GRIFFITHS)

      This updates the article Nauru.

▪ 1994

      An island republic within the Commonwealth, Nauru lies in the Pacific Ocean about 1,900 km (1,200 mi) east of New Guinea. Area: 21 sq km (8 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 10,000. Cap.: Government offices in Yaren district. Monetary unit: Australian dollar, with (Oct. 4, 1993) a free rate of $A 1.55 to U.S. $1 ($A 2.35 = £1 sterling). President in 1993, Bernard Dowiyogo.

      In 1993 Nauru celebrated the 25th year of its independence by serving as host for the South Pacific Forum. Bernard Dowiyogo, president of Nauru, was chairman of the Forum, the annual meeting of the leaders of governments of self-governing countries in the South Pacific. The public relations aspect of the Forum was not entirely successful, however. A group of Nauruan women used the arrival of the local political leaders to protest against what they saw as the gross mismanagement of their small republic's phosphate wealth. They attached banners to the sides of cars reading "Wealth belongs to the ministers." The protests were in response to events that included the resignation of the Australian manager of the Nauru Phosphate Trust, Geoffrey Chatfield, in May 1993. In his resignation letter Chatfield complained that various government organizations kept bleeding the trust, which he alleged showed an overall decline in value following unwise investments in foreign real estate.

      Shortly before the Pacific Forum talks began, Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating made an offer to settle out of court a claim for damages that Nauru had been pursuing for four years in the International Court of Justice. Nauru had sought $A 110 million to rejuvenate the island, 80% of which was uninhabitable because of phosphate mining. Australia agreed to pay Nauru $A 57 million within 12 months, and to provide an additional $A 2.5 million annually for 20 years. (A.R.G. GRIFFITHS)

      This updates the article Nauru.

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▪ island country, Pacific Ocean
Nauru, flag of  island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It consists of a raised coral island located in southeastern Micronesia, 25 miles (40 km) south of the Equator. The island is about 800 miles (1,300 km) northeast of the Solomon Islands; its closest neighbour is the island of Banaba, in Kiribati, some 200 miles (300 km) to the east. Nauru has no official capital, but government offices are located in the district of Yaren.

Land (Nauru)
 Most of Nauru rises somewhat abruptly from the ocean, and there are no harbours or protected anchorages. A fairly fertile but relatively narrow belt encircles the island and surrounds the shallow inland Buada Lagoon. Farther inland, coral cliffs rise to a plateau 100 feet (30 metres) above sea level, with the highest point at about 213 feet (65 metres). The plateau is largely composed of rock phosphate, leached from guano, or bird droppings. The mineral deposit covers more than two-thirds of the island, and its extraction has left irregular, pinnacle-shaped outcrops of limestone that give the landscape a forbidding, otherworldly appearance.

      Nauru's climate is tropical, with daytime temperatures in the low 80s F (about 28° C), tempered by ocean breezes. Rainfall, averaging about 80 inches (2,000 mm) annually, is extremely variable, and prolonged droughts occur. The only locally available water is collected from roof catchment systems, and water is imported as ballast on ships returning to Nauru for loads of phosphate. There are no rivers or streams.

      Soils are generally poor and highly porous, and the irregular rainfall limits cultivation to the coastal belt and the lagoon's fringe. Phosphate mining has ravaged the interior of the island, leaving about four-fifths of it uninhabitable and uncultivable. Subsistence crops, consisting mainly of coconut palms, pandanus, bananas, pineapple, and some vegetables, are not adequate to support the population; the land does yield a great variety of plants and trees, however. Nauru is a favourite stopover point for migratory birds, and chickens have been introduced. There was an absence of mammals until rats, mice, cats, dogs, and pigs were also imported.

People (Nauru)
      Most of the island's residents are indigenous Nauruans. There are small numbers of I-Kiribati (Gilbertese), Australians, New Zealanders, Chinese, and Tuvaluans; many members of the latter two groups were recruited as workers by the phosphate industry.

      Nauruan is the national language. No adequate written grammar of the language has been compiled, and its relationships to other Micronesian languages are not well understood. English is widely spoken. Nauru is considered one of the most Westernized countries in the South Pacific.

      Missionization came later to Nauru than to many other Pacific islands. The first Protestant evangelist arrived in 1899 and was followed three years later by the first Roman Catholic missionary. Today more than four-fifths of Nauruans are Christians; more than half the total population is Protestant (mostly members of the Nauru Congregational Church), and about one-fourth is Roman Catholic.

      The settlement pattern on the island is dispersed. People are scattered along the coastal zone, and there is one small village, Buada, inland near the lagoon.

      Agriculture (with the exception of coffee and copra plantations along the coastal and lagoon perimeters), fishing, manufacturing, and tourism are of minor value to the overall economy. However, Nauru has an exclusive economic zone extending 200 miles (320 km) offshore. The sale of commercial fishing licenses began to bring in a steady revenue during the 1990s.

      Phosphate (phosphate mineral) has been mined on Nauru since 1907. For decades it was Nauru's main resource and sole export, dominating the island's economy, and its quality was the highest in the world. The phosphate industry and government services together provided almost all of the island's salaried employment. For much of the 20th century the phosphate industry was owned and operated by a corporation jointly managed by the British, Australian, and New Zealand governments. The government of independent Nauru gained control of phosphate operations in 1970, and in the 1980s Nauru was for a time one of the wealthiest countries in the world in terms of gross domestic product per capita. Landowners received royalties from the phosphate earnings, and many Nauruans were unemployed by choice. By the late 20th century, however, the phosphate deposits were quickly becoming exhausted, and Nauru experienced a severe drop-off in earnings, leading to the country's near bankruptcy by the early years of the 21st century. Thereafter Nauru struggled to develop other resources and find alternative sources of income.

      Beginning in 2001, Nauru agreed to temporarily house hundreds of Australia-bound asylum seekers (who at first came mostly from Iraq and Afghanistan and later from Sri Lanka) while they awaited the processing of their applications. In exchange, the Australian government provided millions of dollars in aid to Nauru over the next several years.

      Virtually all food, water, and manufactured goods are imported. Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom together supply more than three-fourths of Nauru's imports. With the exception of those levied on alcohol and tobacco, there are no import duties, and there is no income tax.

      Nauru has its own banking system; the Bank of Nauru is wholly owned and operated by the government. The financial sector grew in importance after the 1980s as the island became known as an offshore banking centre and tax haven. Beginning in 1999, amid allegations that it was a money-laundering conduit for organized crime and terrorist organizations, the financial sector underwent a series of reforms to increase its transparency. As one consequence of its colonial history, Nauru is within the Australian monetary system, and Australian currency is the country's legal tender.

      Transportation on the island is good. A paved road system links all villages. Surface transportation to other destinations is difficult. Because there are no wharves or natural harbours, passengers and cargo are shuttled by barge between oceangoing vessels and a small artificial anchorage. Most regional and international travel is by air. Nauru's sole airport is located in Yaren district. In 1970 the country launched its national airline, control of which was transferred in 1996 to a government-owned corporation.

Government and society
      Nauru's constitution, implemented with independence in 1968, calls for broadly phrased fundamental rights and freedoms for individuals and a government that combines parliamentary and presidential systems. The parliament, whose members are elected by Nauruan citizens age 20 and older, has a tenure of three years unless dissolved by a vote of no confidence. It elects the president, who is both head of state and head of government. The president appoints a cabinet from the parliament. In 1999 Nauru became a full member of both the Commonwealth and the United Nations.

      The tripartite judicial system comprises a Supreme Court, a District Court, and a Family Court. The Supreme Court, presided over by a chief justice, has both original and appellate jurisdiction. At Nauru's request, final appeals may be taken to the High Court of Australia.

      Basic services in education and health are provided free to all citizens, though services have been reduced as a result of the country's changing economic fortunes. There is no government social security system. Education is compulsory between ages 6 and 16. The government provides several kindergartens and elementary and secondary schools. The Roman Catholic mission has its own school system at the same three levels. Traditionally, students have gone abroad, mainly to Australia, for higher education.

History (Nauru)
      The origin of the first inhabitants of Nauru and when they reached the island remain unknown. A long period of relative isolation is believed to account for the distinctiveness of the indigenous language. By the time of the arrival of Europeans in the early 18th century, Nauruan society consisted of 12 matrilineal kinship groups, each having a chief.

      An English sailing vessel sighted the island in 1798, but extensive contact with Europeans did not begin until the 1830s, when the whaling industry penetrated eastern Micronesia, and Nauru became a port of call for vessels in search of food and water supplies. Shortly thereafter a small number of European beachcombers settled on the island, bringing with them alcohol, firearms, and foreign diseases. Intraisland warfare among competing districts escalated, becoming particularly intense in the 1880s. Encouraged by a few German traders concerned about their own interests on the island, Germany incorporated Nauru into its Marshall Islands protectorate in late 1888. The German administration and the arrival of the missionaries shortly thereafter brought an end to armed hostilities. In 1906 the Pacific Phosphate Company, a British concern, negotiated an agreement with the German administration to begin the mining of Nauru's phosphate deposits, and the operation began the following year.

      With the onset of World War I, a small Australian force occupied Nauru and removed most German nationals. In 1920 Nauru became a mandated territory within the framework of the League of Nations (Nations, League of). Australia, Britain, and New Zealand were named as the responsible authorities, but in actual practice the administration remained in Australian hands. The phosphate industry was taken over by the newly formed British Phosphate Commission, a joint Australian, British, and New Zealand enterprise.

       World War II brought another occupier when Japanese forces arrived in August 1942. In the following year, 1,200 Nauruans were taken to Truk (now Chuuk (Chuuk Islands)) to serve as forced labourers on Japanese military installations there. A Japanese airstrip on Nauru became the target of American bombers, and the island suffered air attacks for the next two years. In September 1945, Australian troops again took possession of Nauru. On Jan. 31, 1946, with their numbers depleted by almost 500, 737 Nauruans were returned home.

      In November 1947, Nauru became a United Nations trust territory, an arrangement paralleling the former League of Nations mandate. The same three metropolitan powers were the responsible authorities, but Australia continued to provide the actual administration.

      A series of developments in the 1950s and particularly in the early 1960s led to self-government and eventually political independence and ownership of the phosphate industry. In October 1967 an agreement granting Nauruan independence was concluded. Jan. 31, 1968, the 22nd anniversary of the return of Nauruans from Truk, was chosen as Independence Day for the Republic of Nauru.

      Political parties are of lesser importance than personalities in Nauruan politics. Hammer DeRoburt (DeRoburt, Hammer) dominated the political scene for the first two decades of the republic; he served as president for most of the postindependence period until being voted out of office in 1989. Thereafter, national politics was marked by a series of weak, short-lived governments; the presidency tended to be traded among a small number of politicians.

      As the phosphate market faltered and costs increased, national accounts began to dwindle. It was projected that Nauru's primary deposits would be exhausted by the early years of the 21st century, and Nauru began to make preparations for the post-phosphate-mining era. A major portion of the earnings from phosphate mining was invested abroad. The future economic well-being of Nauruans depended in part on the success of the investment program, but it lost much of its value to risky investments and fraud, leaving the country hovering on the edge of bankruptcy. The development of new techniques for mining secondary deposits and the discovery of new primary deposits in 2005 ameliorated the situation somewhat. Nonetheless, austerity measures were instituted, including cuts in public services. In early 2003 the country was cut off from the rest of the world for nearly two months when its telecommunications network collapsed.

      In late 2001 Nauru agreed to accept up to 1,200 asylum seekers, mostly Afghani or Iraqi, who had been intercepted in the Indian Ocean by the Australian navy. Australia paid some $10 million (Australian) in exchange for Nauru's holding the migrants while their asylum applications were being processed. Detention for periods of up to several years, along with reportedly poor conditions at the camp, raised international concern over human rights violations on the part of Australia. In December 2002 the agreement was extended to cover another 1,500 people for an additional $14 million. Over the following years the number of refugees (refugee) slowly dwindled as their applications were processed. In late 2007 Australia announced plans to close the Nauru detention centre, and the last refugees left the island in February of the following year. Australia pledged to assist Nauru in addressing the economic loss resulting from the centre's closure.

Robert C. Kiste Sophie Foster

Additional Reading
A general source is International Business Publications, USA, Nauru: Country Study Guide (2007). An introduction to the land, along with a more detailed treatment of the people and culture, may be found in Solange Petit-Skinner, The Nauruans: Nature and Supernature in an Island of the Central Pacific (1995). Alois Kayser, Nauru One Hundred Years Ago (2002), is an ethnographic account by an early Roman Catholic missionary priest. The history of phosphate mining is the subject of Carl N. McDaniel and John M. Gowdy, Paradise for Sale: A Parable of Nature (2000). Political and historical sources include Ron Crocombe and Ahmed Ali (eds.), Politics in Micronesia (1983); and Barrie Macdonald, In Pursuit of the Sacred Trust: Trusteeship and Independence in Nauru (1988). Jemima Garrett, Island Exiles (1996), discusses the period of Japanese occupation during World War II.Sophie Foster

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Universalium. 2010.

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