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Nauru

Map Courtesy CIA World Factbook

The Republic of Nauru (pronounced nah-OO-roo), formerly known as Pleasant Island, is an island republic in the South Pacific Ocean. It is one of the world's smallest independent countries both in terms of population and land area and the smallest independent republic in both terms. It is also the smallest non-European country (in terms of land area).

Much of its past prosperity derived from the large amount of phosphate deposits on the island, believed to be either of guano or of marine origin. The phosphate is used as a fertilizer around the world and the majority of it has been exported to Australia. With the exhaustion of the phosphate supplies, Nauru faces an uncertain future. In the 1990s, it tried to gain new sources of income by introducing itself as a tax haven, but this story came to an end in July 2004.

Nauru currently houses a detention centre, which holds and processes asylum seekers as part of Australia's Pacific Solution.

Nauru was first settled by Polynesian and Melanesian settlers. The first European to arrive was Captain John Fearn in 1798, but Nauru continued as an independent island society, reigned by a king (the most widely known being King Auweyida), until it was annexed by Germany in 1888 to German New Guinea. Mining of its extensive phosphate reserves began early in the 20th century.

Following World War I, Nauru became a League of Nations Mandate territory in 1920, administered by Australia. In 1947, a trusteeship was approved by the United Nations. Nauru achieved independence in 1968. The founding president was Hammer DeRoburt. Nauru is a special member of the Commonwealth and joined the United Nations as a member state in 1999.

In 2001, a ship carrying refugees from various countries (including Afghanistan) and seeking to dock in Australia was diverted to Nauru as part of the Pacific Solution. The refugees were housed in a detention center in Nauru. As of 2004, all but 100 have been granted asylum in Australia.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Nauru".