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Nauru: the island of phosphate

Nauru (Republic of Nauru; Naoero) is a Pacific atoll, located in Micronesia, in the central Pacific Ocean, almost along the equator line, 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 inner lagoon has been reduced to a small lake, the Buada Lagoon. The center of the atoll housed a large deposit of phosphates, which represented the great wealth of Nauru, the island’s economy depended almost exclusively from the extraction of phosphate, 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 the sea level. Along the coast there are few agricultural land where are grown coconut palms, mango and banana trees. Among the major economic activities there are also fishing and financial services.

According to the archaeological finds the island of Nauru was inhabited by a populations of Micronesian and Polynesian origin at least from 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 was German possession until the outbreak of the First World War. After Germany’s defeat, the island was administered by the British for 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, forming the smallest insular independent 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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