20 Fascinating Facts About Nauru
1. Nauru is a small oval-shaped island located in Oceania in the western Pacific Ocean.
2. The origins of Nauru’s first inhabitants remain unknown. By the time Europeans arrived in the 18th century, Nauruan society consisted of 12 ancestral tribal groups, each with a chief.
3. Nauru does not have an official capital city. However, its government offices are located in the Yaren District.
4. Nauru was initially named Pleasant Island by British navigator Captain John Fearn as he sailed past on his way from New Zealand to the China Seas in 1798.
5. Nauru’s flag consists of a blue background representing the Pacific Ocean, a single horizontal yellow stripe representing the Equator, and a 12-pointed white star which represents the location of the island (to the south of the equator and west of the international date line), independence and the 12 original tribes of Nauru.
6. By population, Nauru is the world’s second-smallest sovereign country after Tuvalu. Technically, Vatican City is smaller but is not a UN member state.
7. By land area, Nauru is also the world’s second-smallest sovereign nation after Monaco. Furthermore, it is the smallest country in the Pacific Ocean, the smallest country outside of Europe, the world’s smallest island country, and the world’s smallest independent republic.
8. Nauru is one of just 22 countries that does not have an army.
9. Nauru is probably the least visited country in the world. There were not even enough visitors to make it onto the most recent World Tourism Organization report. Some estimates suggest that only around 200 tourists make it to Nauru every year.
10. Nauru has the fattest population in the world. In 2017, a report ranked Nauru as the world’s most obese nation with 88.5% of its population over 18 years old classified as obese.
11. Nauru has the second smallest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the world after only Tuvalu.
12. Nauru only has 30km of roads. Only Tuvalua has less when it comes to the total length of the roadway.
13. Despite its tiny size, Nauru has a 5km stretch of railway. It serves the phosphate mine and carries the ore to dryers before its loaded onto ships.
14. In 1963, and then again in 1970, there were discussions about moving the entire population of Nauru to an island off Queensland in Australia because scientists considered Nauru would be uninhabitable by the mid-1990s. The Nauruans opposed the idea and chose to remain.
15. Phosphate mining has devastated the center of Nauru turning it into a barren wasteland with 15m-high serrated coral pinnacles sticking up from the ground. A century of mining stripped between 80% and 90% of the land area.
16. As such, many indigenous birds have either disappeared or become rare, due to loss of habitat.
17. Phosphate mining resumed in 2005 when a secondary phosphate deposit was discovered. The government estimates that this secondary deposit will last around 30 years.
18. Nauru was technically once the wealthiest country (per capita) in the world thanks to its rich, deep phosphate mines.
19. Nauru has been used by Australia as an asylum-seeker detention camp since 2001. The conditions and treatment of asylum-seekers are deeply controversial and have been found to be unlawful by the International Criminal Court with widespread allegations of human rights abuses and overcrowding.
20. Nauru has never won a medal at the Olympic Games since its debut in 1996.