Nauru Explained

Native Name:Ripublikee Naoero
Conventional Long Name:Republic of Nauru
Common Name:Nauru
National Motto:"God's Will shall be First"
National Anthem:Nauru Bwiema
("Song of Nauru")
Official Languages:English
Nauruan
Demonym:Nauruan
Capital:Yaren (de facto)
Government Type:Republic
Leader Title1:President
Leader Name1:Sprent Dabwido
Area Rank:239th
Area Magnitude:1 E7
Area Km2:21
Area Sq Mi:8.1
Percent Water:0.57
Population Census:9,275
Population Census Year:December 2006
Population Estimate:9,322 [1]
Population Estimate Year:July 2010
Population Estimate Rank:216th
Population Density Km2:441
Population Density Sq Mi:1,233.3
Population Density Rank:23rd
Gdp Ppp:$36.9 million
Gdp Ppp Rank:192nd
Gdp Ppp Year:2006
Gdp Ppp Per Capita:$2,500 ('06 est.) – $5,000('05 est.)
Gdp Ppp Per Capita Rank:135th–141st
Sovereignty Type:Independence
Established Event1:from the Australian, New Zealand, and British-administered U.N. trusteeship.
Established Date1:31 January 1968
Hdi:n/a
Hdi Rank:n/a
Hdi Year:2003
Hdi Category:unranked
Currency:Usually the Australian dollar
Currency Code:AUD
Country Code:NAU
Utc Offset:+12
Drives On:left
Cctld:.nr
Calling Code:+674
Footnotes:a. Nauru does not have an official capital, but Yaren is the largest settlement and the seat of Parliament.

Nauru, officially the Republic of Nauru and formerly known as Pleasant Island, is an island country in Micronesia in the South Pacific. Its nearest neighbour is Banaba Island in Kiribati, 300km to the east. Nauru is the world's smallest republic, covering just . With just over 9,322 residents, it is the second least-populated country after Vatican City.

Settled by Micronesian and Polynesian people, Nauru was annexed and claimed as a colony by the German Empire in the late 19th century. After World War I, Nauru became a League of Nations mandate administered by Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. During World War II, Nauru was occupied by Japanese troops, who were bypassed by the Allied advance across the Pacific. After the war ended, it entered into trusteeship again.[2] Nauru gained its independence in 1968.

Throughout the first half of the 20th century, Nauru was a "rentier state". Nauru is a phosphate rock island, with rich deposits close to the surface, which allow for simple strip mining operations; moreover, it has some phosphate reserves which are presently (as of 2011) not economically viable for extraction.[3] Nevertheless, this island was a major exporter of phosphate starting in 1907, when the Pacific Phosphate Company began mining there, through the formation of the British Phosphate Commission in 1919, and continuing after independence. This gave Nauru back full control of its minerals under the Nauru Phosphate Corporation, until the deposits ran out during the 1980s. For this reason, Nauru briefly boasted the highest per-capita income enjoyed by any sovereign state in the world during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

When the phosphate reserves were exhausted, and the environment had been seriously harmed by mining, the trust that had been established to manage the island's wealth diminished in value. To earn income, Nauru briefly became a tax haven and illegal money laundering centre. From 2001 to 2008, it accepted aid from the Australian Government in exchange for housing a Nauru detention centre that held and assessed the refugee claims of asylum seekers who had arrived unauthorised in Australia.

The island has one airport, Nauru International Airport. From January to September 2006, Nauru became partially isolated from the outside world when Air Nauru, the airline which served the island, ceased operations in December 2005 and left the island accessible only by ship. The airline was subsequently able to restart operations in October 2006 under the name Our Airline with monetary aid from the Taiwan.

Etymology

English visitors to the island originally named it "Pleasant Island". The name "Nauru" may derive from the Nauruan word Anáoero, which means "I go to the beach". The German settlers called the island Nawodo or Onawero.

History

See main article: History of Nauru.

Nauru was first inhabited by Micronesian and Polynesian people at least 3,000 years ago.[4] There were traditionally 12 clans or tribes on Nauru, which are represented in the 12-pointed star in the flag of the country. Nauruans traced their descent matrilineally. Nauruans practiced aquaculture – they caught juvenile ibija fish, acclimatised them to fresh water, and raised them in the Buada Lagoon, providing an additional and more reliable source of food. The other locally grown components of their diet included coconuts and pandanus fruit.

The British sea captain John Fearn, a whale hunter, became the first Westerner to visit this island in 1798, and he named it "Pleasant Island". From around 1830, Nauruans had contact with Europeans from whaling ships and traders who replenished their supplies (such as fresh water) at Nauru. Around this time, deserters from the ships began to live on the island. The islanders traded food for alcoholic palm wine and firearms. The firearms were used during the 10-year Nauruan Tribal War that began in 1878, and by 1888 had resulted in a reduction of the population of Nauru from 1,400 to 900 people.

Nauru was annexed by Germany in 1888 and incorporated into Germany's Marshall Island Protectorate. The Germans called the island Nawodo or Onawero. The arrival of the Germans ended the war, and social changes brought about by the war established kings as rulers of the island. The most widely known of these was King Auweyida. Christian missionaries from the Gilbert Islands arrived in 1888.[5] The Germans ruled Nauru for almost three decades. Robert Rasch, a German trader who married a native woman, was the first administrator, appointed in 1890.

Phosphate was discovered on Nauru in 1900 by the prospector Albert Ellis. The Pacific Phosphate Company started to exploit the reserves in 1906 by agreement with Germany. The company exported its first shipment in 1907.[6] In 1914, following the outbreak of World War I, Nauru was captured by Australian troops. Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom signed the Nauru Island Agreement in 1919, creating a board known as the British Phosphate Commission (BPC). This took over the rights to phosphate mining.According to the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics (now the Australian Bureau of Statistics), "In common with other natives, the islanders are very susceptible to tuberculosis and influenza, and in 1921 an influenza epidemic caused the deaths of 230 islanders." In 1923, the League of Nations gave Australia a trustee mandate over Nauru, with the United Kingdom and New Zealand as co-trustees.[7] [8] On 6 and 7 December 1940, the German auxiliary cruisers Komet and Orion sank four supply ships in the vicinity of Nauru. On the next day, Komet shelled Nauru's phosphate mining areas, oil storage depots, and the shiploading cantilever.

Japanese troops occupied Nauru on 26 August 1942.[9] The Japanese troops built an airfield on Nauru which was bombed for the first time on 25 March 1943, preventing food supplies from being flown to Nauru. The Japanese deported 1,200 Nauruans to work as labourers in the Chuuk islands.[10] Nauru, which had been bypassed and left to "wither on the vine" by American forces, was finally set free from the Japanese on 13 September 1945, when Captain Hisayaki Soeda, the commander of all the Japanese troops on Nauru,[11] surrendered the island to the Australian Army and the Royal Australian Navy. This surrender was accepted by Brigadier J. R. Stevenson, who represented Lieutenant General Vernon Sturdee, the commander of the First Australian Army, on board the warship HMAS Diamantina.[12] [13] Arrangements were made to repatriate from Chuuk the 737 Nauruans who survived Japanese captivity there. They were returned to Nauru by the BPC ship Trienza in January 1946.[14] In 1947, a trusteeship was established by the United Nations, and Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom became the U.N. trustees of the island.

Nauru became self-governing in January 1966, and following a two-year constitutional convention, it became independent in 1968, led by founding president Hammer DeRoburt. In 1967, the people of Nauru purchased the assets of the British Phosphate Commissioners, and in June 1970, control passed to the locally owned Nauru Phosphate Corporation. One of the ships commissioned to ship the natural resources of Nauru was the Eigamoiya, built by the Henry Robb shipyard at Leith in Scotland.[15]

Income from the mining of phosphate gave Nauruans one of the highest living standards in the Pacific and the world.[16]

In 1989, Nauru took legal actions against Australia in the International Court of Justice over Australia's actions during its administration of Nauru. In particular, Nauru made a legal complaint against Australia's failure to remedy the environmental damage caused by phosphate mining.[17] [18] Certain Phosphate Lands: Nauru v. Australia led to an out-of-court settlement to rehabilitate the mined-out areas of Nauru.

Politics

See main article: Politics of Nauru.

Nauru is a republic with a parliamentary system of government. The president is both the head of state and of government. An 18-member unicameral parliament is elected every three years. The parliament elects a President from its members, and the President appoints a cabinet of five to six members. Nauru does not have any formal structure for political parties. Candidates typically stand for office as independents. Fifteen of the 18 members of the current Parliament are independents, and alliances within the government are often formed on the basis of extended family ties. Three parties that have sometimes been active in Nauruan politics are the Democratic Party, Nauru First, and the Centre Party.

Since 1992, local government has been the responsibility of the Nauru Island Council (NIC). The NIC has limited powers, and it functions as an advisor to the national government on local matters. The role of the NIC is to concentrate its efforts on local activities relevant to Nauruans. An elected member of the Nauru Island Council cannot simultaneously be a member of parliament. NIC was itself dissolved in 1999 and all assets and liabilities became vested in the national government [19]

Notes and References

  1. Web site: Central Intelligence Agency. Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook. [https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/nr.html Nauru]. 2011. 12 February 2011.
  2. Web site: Historia – Nauru – Onet.pl – WIEM Lajt. Lajt.onet.pl. 2010-06-22.
  3. C.Michael Hogan. 2011. Phosphate. Encyclopedia of Earth. Topic ed. Andy Jorgensen. Ed.-in-Chief C.J.Cleveland. National Council for Science and the Environment. Washington DC
  4. Nauru Department of Economic Development and Environment. 2003. First National Report To the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Retrieved 2006-05-03.
  5. Ellis, A. F. 1935. Ocean Island and Nauru – their story. Angus and Robertson Limited. pp 29–39
  6. Ellis, A. F. 1935. Ocean Island and Nauru – their story. Angus and Robertson Limited. pp 127–139
  7. Cain, Timothy M., comp. "Nauru." The Book of Rule. 1st ed. 1 vols. New York: DK Inc., 2004.
  8. Web site: Agreement (between Australia, New Zealand and United Kingdom) regarding Nauru. Austlii.edu.au. 2010-06-22.
  9. Lundstrom, John B., The First Team and the Guadalcanal Campaign, Naval Institute Press, 1994, p. 175.
  10. Haden, J. D. 2000. Nauru: a middle ground in World War II Pacific Magazine URL Accessed 5 May 2006
  11. Web site: Akira. Takizawa. Allan. Alsleben. Japanese garrisons on the by-passed Pacific Islands 1944–1945. 1999–2000. Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941–1942.
  12. The Times, 14 September 1945
  13. http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/971354 Nauru Occupied by Australians; Jap Garrison and Natives Starving
  14. Garrett, J. 1996. Island Exiles. ABC. ISBN 0-7333-0485-0. pp176–181
  15. http://henryrobb.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/eigamoiya-–-ship-number-504-–-built-for-the-island-of-nauru
  16. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/7296832.stm Nauru seeks to regain lost fortunes
  17. ICJ Pleadings, Oral Arguments, Documents, Case Concerning Certain Phosphate Lands in Nauru (Nauru v. Australia) Application: Memorial of Nauru (January, 2004) ISBN 978-92-1-070936-1 (United Nations, International Court of Justice)
  18. Highet, K and Kahale, H. 1993. Certain Phosphate Lands in Nauru. The American Journal of International Law 87:282–288
  19. Hassell, G. http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/ComJlLocGov/2008/3.html