Country profile: Nauru
Named Pleasant Island by its first European visitors, the former British colony of Nauru is the world's smallest republic.
The tiny Pacific island once generated a per capita income out of
proportion to its size. But the source of this wealth - phosphates - is
nearing exhaustion, leaving the islanders facing an uncertain future.
While the mining of 1,000 years' worth of fossilised bird droppings
has been lucrative, Nauru relies on imports for almost everything -
from food and water to fuel.
Little evidence remains of the rich returns from phosphate
Moreover, recent financial crises have precipitated a slide into
bankruptcy and a dependence on aid. The country had to sell off its
assets in Australia to pay off a multi-million dollar debt to a US
Nauru's government has tried to develop
alternative industries, including tourism and offshore banking. A world
body, set up to fight money-laundering, removed Nauru from its list of
uncooperative states in late 2005.
In 2001 Nauru signed an
agreement with Australia to accommodate asylum seekers on the island,
in return for millions of dollars in aid. However, Australia ended its
controversial "Pacific Solution" of detaining asylum seekers on islands
Australia has sent financial experts to Nauru to help it overcome its problems.
- Full name: Republic of Nauru
- Population: 10,000 (UN, 2009)
- Capital: None, administrative centre is Yaren
- Area: 21 sq km (8 sq miles)
- Major languages: Nauruan, English
- Major religion: Christianity
- Life expectancy: 55 years (men), 57 years (women) (UN)
- Monetary unit: 1 Australian dollar = 100 cents
- Main export: Phosphates
- GNI per capita: n/a
- Internet domain: .nr
- International dialling code: +674
President: Marcus Stephens
Marcus Stephens was
sworn in as president in December 2007, after his predecessor, Ludwig
Scotty, lost a no-confidence vote in the Pacific island's 18-member
However, parliament was deadlocked for months over the budget, with the 18 MPs evenly divided.
resolve the impasse, Mr Stephens declared a state of emergency and
dissolved parliament. His government went on to win a majority in snap
elections in April 2008.
Mr Stephens is a former professional weightlifter and multiple Commonwealth Games medallist.
Ludwig Scotty: A seasoned player in Nauru's fluid politics
He was elected to parliament in 2003 and served as education and
finance minister, but stood down after Mr Scotty was re-elected to the
presidency in 2004.
As president, Nauru's constitution stipulates that Mr Stephens will be both head of state and head of government on the island.
Scotty, a seasoned player in Nauru's fluid politics, was ousted once
before, in August 2003 and then re-elected less than a year later.
Nauru has no daily news publication.
State-owned Radio Nauru
carries material from Radio Australia and the BBC, and Nauru TV
broadcasts programmes from New Zealand sent via satellite or on
- Bulletin - weekly
- Central Star News - fortnightly
- The Nauru Chronicle
- Nauru Television (NTV) - government-owned
- Radio Nauru - non-commercial, run by government-owned Nauru Broadcasting Service