Nauru is a small island in the South Pacific Ocean, south of the Marshall Islands and is the world's smallest independent republic. Although other island states may be smaller and/or less populous, they are all dependent territories of other countries.
Mining of Nauru's phosphate deposits, which occupied about 90% of the island, began in the early 20th century under a German-British consortium. During World War I, the island was occupied by Australian forces and became a dependent territory. Nauru achieved independence in 1968. In the 1980s, phosphate exports briefly gave Nauruans one of the highest per capita incomes in the Third World. As of 2008, most of Nauru's revenue comes from the export of phosphate to Australia, South Korea and New Zealand as well as other countries. The industry is controlled by the Nauru Phosphate Corporation (NPC). It is anticipated that the phosphate reserves will be completely exhausted before 2050. The sale of fishing licences is the other major revenue raiser. Countries such as Australia and Taiwan provide substantial development cooperation funding. Despite this, the unemployment rate currently stands at 90%.
In 2001 the container ship Tampa rescued several hundred asylum seekers from a sinking Indonesian vessel and attempted to deliver them to Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, which is an Australian Federal Territory. In what is cynically known as The Pacific Solution, the Australian Government established an Off Shore Processing Centre (OPC) on Nauru where these people were housed, pending assessment of their claims to be refugees. In exchange for accepting the OPC Nauru was provided with extra aid by Australia. The OPC was closed in early 2008.
The climate is tropical, with some rain occurring between November and February.
The are a few "sandy" beaches but most of the shallow area around the island is coral reefs. Most of the interior of the island is worked-out mining land, which is to be rehabilitated. There is a lagoon on the island, the only body of water there.
All foreign visitors require a valid passport, a 30 day tourist visa and proof of hotel booking or local sponsor in order to enter Nauru. Your visa must be obtained from your local Nauruan embassy before departure. There have been rumours on the Internet that you can get in for up to three days without getting a visa, but that is not accurate.
As of January 2010, Nauru's national carrier Our Airline flies once weekly to Nauru International Airport from Brisbane Airport in Australia with a stopover at Honiara International Airport on the Solomon Islands. Flights depart Brisbane on Sundays and return from Nauru on Wednesdays. Further details are available from the Our Airline website.
A 19km road circles the island. There is a community bus which travels around the island every hour or so during the day. Cars can sometimes be rented from Capelle and Partners, the largest local supermarket.
The official language is Nauruan, a distinct Pacific Island language. English is widely understood, spoken, and used for most government and commercial purposes.
Explore World war relics - hidden limestone caves that harboured Japanese soldiers. Find unexploded ordinance for handing to police. Discover the inland sole freshwater source.
Nauru uses the Australian dollar as its national currency.
Food is imported from Australia and arrives by ship, usually once every six to eight weeks. There are lots of small "eating places", selling Chinese food. There is also a fast food kiosk at Capelle's supermarket.
The Menen Hotel's Reef Bar is the only public bar in Nauru. It serves Australian beers and international spirits.
There are two hotels, the more expensive Menen on the east of the island and the budget Od'n Aiwo to the west.
Like many other Pacific Islands, Nauru is surrounded by a shallow reef with cut-outs through the reef providing access for boats and harbours, and there can be strong currents across the shallow water, moving boats in the harbours, and dangerous marine animals on the reef floor. Ask for advice before venturing into the water.
Water supply in Nauru is dependent on rainwater collected into tanks from the roofs of houses and from an aging reverse osmosis desalination plant.