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Nauru: the smallest independent island state in the world

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Nauru (Republic of Nauru; Naoero), is an atoll in the Pacific Ocean, located in Micronesia, in the central Pacific ocean. The island is located almost at the equator, west of the Gilbert Islands (Kiribati) and north-east of the Solomon Islands. It is an independent republic within the British Commonwealth.

The island of Nauru is an atoll of coral origin, whose internal lagoon, the Buada Lagoon, has shrunk to a small lake. The center of the atoll housed a large deposit of phosphates, which represented the great wealth of Nauru. In fact, in the past, the island’s economy depended almost exclusively on the extraction of phosphates, but the phosphate reserves are now exhausted.


The island of Nauru is almost completely flat, the highest point of the island has an altitude of 61 meters above sea level. There are few farmlands along the coast where coconut palms, mangoes and banana trees are grown. The economy of the island is very poor. Important economic activities also include fishing and the financial services sector. But the island, with the end of the phosphate mines, is today highly dependent on the economic aid that comes from Australia.

According to archaeological findings, the island of Nauru has been inhabited by populations of Polynesian and Micronesian origin at least for about 3,000 years. The first European to discover it was the English captain John Fearn in 1798.

Nauru was annexed by Germany in 1888 and incorporated into the German protectorate of the Marshall Islands. Nauru remained a German possession until the outbreak of the First World War. After the German defeat in the First World War, the island was administered by the British through Australia and New Zealand.

During the Second World War – between 1942 and 1945 – the island was occupied by the Japanese. In 1968 Nauru became an independent state within the British Commonwealth. Thus the island became the smallest independent island state in the world.

  • Area: 21 sqkm.
  • Population: 13,500 (2007 data) (Nauruan 58%, other Pacific Islanders 26%, Chinese 8%, Europeans 8%).
  • State Capital: Yaren.
  • Languages: Official languages are English and Nauruan.
  • Religion: Christian 90% (Protestant 60%, Catholic 30%), Baha’i 10%.
  • Currency: Australian Dollar (AUD).
  • Time: UTC +12 hours.



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