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. 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 independence in 1968 and joined the UN in 1999 as the world's smallest independent republic.
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 NZ consortium - has left the central 90% of Nauru a wasteland and threatens limited remaining land resources
blue with a narrow, horizontal, yellow stripe across the center and a large white 12-pointed star below the stripe on the hoist side; blue stands for the Pacific Ocean, 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
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. Reserves of phosphates may only last until 2010 at current mining rates. 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. As a result of heavy spending from the trust funds, the government faces virtual bankruptcy. To cut costs the government has frozen wages and reduced overstaffed public service departments. Nauru lost further revenue in 2008 with the closure of Australia's refugee processing center, making it almost totally dependent on food imports and foreign aid. Housing, hospitals, and other capital plant is deteriorating. The cost to Australia of keeping the government and economy afloat continues to climb. Few comprehensive statistics on the Nauru economy exist with estimates of Nauru's GDP varying widely.
1 government-owned television station broadcasting programs from New Zealand sent via satellite or on videotape; 1 government-owned radio station, broadcasting on AM and FM, utilizes Australian and British programs (2009)