We’re having to rebuild the nation again. It was our father’s generation that was given all the wealth. Now we find there’s nothing left. I do sometimes think “how did we end up here?”
Marcus Stephen, then President of Nauru, 2008
Saw this notice in the Embassy newspaper:
Saturday, January 31
Nauru celebrates it Independence Day. It gained independence from Australia, New Zealand and the UK in 1968.
Had never heard of the country. Found out that Nauru is a island republic in the South Pacific of some 9,000 people. It is the smallest state in the South Pacific and second smallest state by population in the world, behind Vatican City, which I thought was a city state.
It appears that the country’s primary source of income was phosphate extraction, now significantly exhausted. It was in a co-trusteeship arrangement with Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, primarily referenced to extracting phosphate resources. Much aid is now received from Australia in return for hosting a detention centre for asylum seekers. Also much aid has been received from Russia, at various points.
Official language is not English, but Nauruan, a distinct oceanic language spoken by the vast majority (at least 6,000 of the 9,000 or so residents) of people.
When a republic, province or city loses its ability to become self-sufficient…