• Barry Turner
Part of the The Statesman’s Yearbook book series (SYBK)


Nauru was first settled by Melanesians and Polynesians. The island was discovered by Capt. John Fearn in 1798 and was annexed by Germany in Oct. 1888. Phosphates were discovered in 1900 and exploited by the British Pacific Phosphate Company. Nauru was surrendered to Australian forces in 1914. It was administered by the UK under a League of Nations mandate from 1920 and occupied by Japanese forces from 1942–45. In 1947 the UN approved a trusteeship agreement with Australia, New Zealand and the UK and Nauru was granted independence on 31 Jan. 1968. Phosphate mining provided one of the world’s highest GDP per capita rates. In 1993 Australia and the UK agreed to out-of-court settlements for environmental damage during mining. Nauru agreed to hold asylum seekers for Australia in 2001. The depletion of phosphates and mismanagement of revenues caused a financial crisis in the early 21st century. Nauru is almost totally reliant on aid from Australia. In 2003 President Bernard Dowiyogo closed Nauru’s offshore banks after US allegations of money-laundering. During 2003 there were six changes of president. In Sept. 2004 a state of emergency was declared after the health minister was suspended and parliament was dismissed for failing to pass the national budget.


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Further Reading

  1. Weeremantry, C., Nauru: Environmental Damage under International Trusteeship. OUP, 1992Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barry Turner

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