The exact origins of the Nauruans are unclear, since their language does not resemble any other in the Pacific. The island was annexed by Germany in 1888 and its phosphate deposits began to be mined early in the 20th century by a German-British consortium. Nauru was occupied by Australian forces in World War I and subsequently became a League of Nations mandate. After the Second World War – and a brutal occupation by Japan – Nauru became a UN trust territory. It achieved its independence in 1968 and joined the UN in 1999 as the world’s smallest independent republic.


Location: Oceania, island in the South Pacific Ocean, south of the Marshall Islands
Geographic coordinates: 0 32 S, 166 55 E
Population:  9,378 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 33% (male 1,398/female 1,682)

15-64 years: 65.3% (male 2,996/female 3,093)

65 years and over: 1.6% (male 68/female 85) (2011 est.)

Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Nauru

conventional short form: Nauru

local long form: Republic of Nauru

local short form: Nauru

former: Pleasant Island

Government type: republic
Telephones – main lines in use: 1,900 (2009)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 6,200 (2009)
Airports: 1 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2012)

Military branches: no regular military forces; Nauru Police Force (2009)
Manpower available for military service: Males age 16-49: 2,542 (2010 est.)


Revenues of this tiny island have traditionally come from exports of phosphates, now significantly depleted. An Australian company in 2005 entered into an agreement intended to exploit remaining supplies. Few other resources exist with most necessities being imported, mainly from Australia, its former occupier and later major source of support. 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 were invested in trust funds to help cushion the transition and provide for Nauru’s economic future.