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Nauru



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Introduction

Background: Nauru's phosphate deposits began to be mined early in the 20th century by a German-British consortium; the island was occupied by Australian forces in World War I. Upon achieving independence in 1968, Nauru became the smallest independent republic in the world; it joined the UN in 1999.

Geography

Location: Oceania, island in the South Pacific Ocean, south of the Marshall Islands

Geographic coordinates: 0 32 S, 166 55 E

Map references: Oceania

Area
  total: 21 sq km
  land: 21 sq km
  water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative: about 0.1 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 30 km

Maritime claims
  exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
  territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: tropical; monsoonal; rainy season (November to February)

Terrain: sandy beach rises to fertile ring around raised coral reefs with phosphate plateau in center

Elevation extremes
  lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
  highest point: unnamed location along plateau rim 61 m

Natural resources: phosphates

Land use
  arable land: 0%
  permanent crops: 0%
  permanent pastures: 0%
  forests and woodland: 0%
  other: 100% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: NA sq km

Natural hazards: periodic droughts

Environment - current issues: limited natural fresh water resources, roof storage tanks collect rainwater, but mostly dependent on a single, aging desalination plant; intensive phosphate mining during the past 90 years - mainly by a UK, Australia, and New Zealand consortium - has left the central 90% of Nauru a wasteland and threatens limited remaining land resources

Environment - international agreements
  party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping
  signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note: Nauru is one of the three great phosphate rock islands in the Pacific Ocean - the others are Banaba (Ocean Island) in Kiribati and Makatea in French Polynesia; only 53 km south of Equator

People

Population: 11,845 (July 2000 est.)

Age structure
  0-14 years: 40.99% (male 2,494; female 2,361)
  15-64 years: 57.37% (male 3,383; female 3,413)
  65 years and over: 1.64% (male 97; female 97) (2000 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.05% (2000 est.)

Birth rate: 27.86 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Death rate: 7.34 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Sex ratio
  at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
  under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
  15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
  65 years and over: 1 male(s)/female
  total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2000 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 10.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
  total population: 60.84 years
  male: 57.35 years
  female: 64.5 years (2000 est.)

Total fertility rate: 3.71 children born/woman (2000 est.)

Nationality
  noun: Nauruan(s)
  adjective: Nauruan

Ethnic groups: Nauruan 58%, other Pacific Islander 26%, Chinese 8%, European 8%

Religions: Christian (two-thirds Protestant, one-third Roman Catholic)

Languages: Nauruan (official, a distinct Pacific Island language), English widely understood, spoken, and used for most government and commercial purposes

Literacy
  definition: NA
  total population: NA%
  male: NA%
  female: NA%

Government

Country name
  conventional long form: Republic of Nauru
  conventional short form: Nauru
  former: Pleasant Island

Data code: NR

Government type: republic

Capital: no official capital; government offices in Yaren District

Administrative divisions: 14 districts; Aiwo, Anabar, Anetan, Anibare, Baiti, Boe, Buada, Denigomodu, Ewa, Ijuw, Meneng, Nibok, Uaboe, Yaren

Independence: 31 January 1968 (from the Australia-, New Zealand-, and UK-administered UN trusteeship)

National holiday: Independence Day, 31 January (1968)

Constitution: 29 January 1968

Legal system: acts of the Nauru Parliament and British common law

Suffrage: 20 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch
  chief of state: President Rene HARRIS (since NA 1999); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
  head of government: President Rene HARRIS (since NA 1999); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
  cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president from among the members of Parliament
  elections: president elected by Parliament for a three-year term; election last held 27 April 1999 (next to be held NA 2002)
  election results: Rene HARRIS elected president; percent of Parliament vote - NA (Note: former President Bernard DOWIYOGO was deposed in a no-confidence vote)

Legislative branch: unicameral Parliament (18 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve three-year terms)
  elections: last held 8 February 1997 (next to be held NA February 2000)
  election results: percent of vote - NA; seats - independents 18

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Political parties and leaders: loose multiparty system; Democratic Party [Kennan ADEANG]; Nauru Party (informal) [Bernard DOWIYOGO]

International organization participation: AsDB, C, ESCAP, ICAO, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, ITU, OPCW, Sparteca, SPC, SPF, UN, UNESCO, UPU, WHO

Diplomatic representation in the US: Nauru does not have an embassy in the US, but will open a UN office early in 2000 at 800 2nd Avenue, New York, New York
  consulate(s): Agana (Guam)

Diplomatic representation from the US: the US does not have an embassy in Nauru; the US Ambassador to Fiji is accredited to Nauru

Flag description: blue with a narrow, horizontal, yellow stripe across the center and a large white 12-pointed star below the stripe on the hoist side; the star indicates the country's location in relation to the Equator (the yellow stripe) and the 12 points symbolize the 12 original tribes of Nauru

Economy

Economy - overview: Revenues of this tiny island come from exports of phosphates, but reserves are expected to be exhausted in the year 2000. Phosphates have given Nauruans one of the highest per capita incomes in the Third World, with estimates of GDP varying widely. Few other resources exist, thus most necessities must be imported, including fresh water from Australia. The rehabilitation of mined land and the replacement of income from phosphates are serious long-term problems. Substantial amounts of phosphate income are invested in trust funds to help cushion the transition. The government also has been borrowing heavily from the trusts to finance fiscal deficits. To cut costs the government has called for a freezing of wages, a reduction of over-staffed public service departments, privatization of numerous government agencies, and closure of some overseas consulates. In recent years Nauru has encouraged the registration of offshore banks and corporations. Tens of billions of dollars have been channeled through their accounts.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $100 million (1993 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: NA%

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $10,000 (1993 est.)

GDP - composition by sector
  agriculture: NA%
  industry: NA%
  services: NA%

Population below poverty line: NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share
  lowest 10%: NA%
  highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices): -3.6% (1993)

Labor force - by occupation: employed in mining phosphates, public administration, education, and transportation

Unemployment rate: 0%

Budget
  revenues: $23.4 million
  expenditures: $64.8 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY95/96)

Industries: phosphate mining, financial services, coconut products

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity - production: 30 million kWh (1998)

Electricity - production by source
  fossil fuel: 100%
  hydro: 0%
  nuclear: 0%
  other: 0% (1998)

Electricity - consumption: 28 million kWh (1998)

Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (1998)

Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (1998)

Agriculture - products: coconuts

Exports: $25.3 million (f.o.b., 1991)

Exports - commodities: phosphates

Exports - partners: Australia, NZ

Imports: $21.1 million (c.i.f., 1991)

Imports - commodities: food, fuel, manufactures, building materials, machinery

Imports - partners: Australia, UK, NZ, Japan

Debt - external: $33.3 million

Economic aid - recipient: $2.25 million from Australia (FY96/97 est.)

Currency: 1 Australian dollar ($A) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: Australian dollars ($A) per US$1 - 1.5207 (January 2000), 1.5497 (1999), 1.5888 (1998), 1.3439 (1997), 1.2773 (1996), 1.3486 (1995)

Fiscal year: 1 July - 30 June

Communications

Telephones - main lines in use: 2,000 (1994)

Telephones - mobile cellular: 450 (1994)

Telephone system: adequate local and international radiotelephone communications provided via Australian facilities
  domestic: NA
  international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 0, shortwave 0 (1998)

Radios: 7,000 (1997)

Television broadcast stations: 1 (1997)

Televisions: 500 (1997)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs): NA

Transportation

Railways
  total: 3.9 km; note - used to haul phosphates from the center of the island to processing facilities on the southwest coast

Highways
  total: 30 km
  paved: 24 km
  unpaved: 6 km (1998 est.)

Ports and harbors: Nauru

Merchant marine: none (1999 est.)

Airports: 1 (1999 est.)

Airports - with paved runways
  total: 1
  1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (1999 est.)

Military

Military branches: no regular armed forces; Directorate of the Nauru Police Force

Military manpower - availability
  males age 15-49: 2,945 (2000 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service
  males age 15-49: 1,620 (2000 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $NA

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: NA%

Military - note: Nauru maintains no defense forces; under an informal agreement, Australia is responsible for defense of the island

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: none

 

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