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MARTIN

Fun Facts about Nauru
 

At least 3000 years ago, Nauru was inhabited by people from Micronesia and Polynesia. Now, the population of Nauru is 58% ethnic Nauruan, 26% from other Pacific islands, 8% Chinese and 8% European.

The official language of government and commerce is English and it is widely spoken.  However, the islanders usually speak Nauruan among themselves.  It is not similar to any of the other languages spoken on other Pacific islands.

The flag of Nauru has twelve points.  You may wonder if it has something to do with the Southern Cross constellation that is on the flags of Australia and New Zealand.  It doesn’t.  The twelve points represent the original twelve clans or tribes on the island.

The original name that British sea captain, John Fearn, gave Nauru in 1798 was Pleasant Island.

Nauru is one of the smallest countries in the world.  Only Vatican City and Monaco are smaller.  Around 10,000 people live on its 8.1 square miles (21 square kilometers) located just south of the equator.  The name “Nauru” possibly came from the Nauruan word “Anáoero” that means “I go to the beach.”  It’s a good fit because fish have been a traditional staple of the local diet, as well as coconut and pandanus fruit.

Nauru is the only independent country in the world that does not have a capital city.  Well, that’s what you read on the Internet.  But remember, you can’t believe everything you read.  My contact in Nauru worked for the government.  He said that Yaren was the capital.  Now, what are you going to believe?

Nauru’s closest neighbor is an island of Kirabati called Banaba, 180 miles (300 kilometers) away.  It may very well be the least visited country in the world.  In 2011, according to the internet there were only 200 tourists to occupy the two or three hotels on the island.

Not much is grown on Nauru except coconuts, but there is a wealth of sea food.  All other food comes in by ship about once every month or so.  Grocery stores run bare and people count the days for every shipment.  The soil does not produce much food.  Fresh vegetables must be flown in.  So, the local diet has way too much Western junk food and fried food.  And, Nauru has the unfortunate claim to fame as the world’s most obese population. 

In the 1960s and 1970s, Nauru boasted the highest per capita income in the world.  That was from mining phosphate.  The most interesting theory is that it originated from bird droppings.  Alas, nothing lasts forever including phosphate.  Mining stripped about 80% of Nauru’s land.

An estimated 90% of the population is unemployed.

Germans annexed the island in 1888.  They controlled it for almost three decades and called Nauru either Nawodo or Onawero.  German control ended during World War I when the island was captured by Australian forces.  When World War II rolled around, Japan took control of the island.  After World War II, a trusteeship to govern the island was shared by Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain.  Nauru gained independence in 1968.

Nauru is still closely associated with Australia and their currency is the Australian Dollar.

Australian rules football and weightlifting are the two most popular sports in Nauru.

As refugees leave troubled areas of the globe, Nauru has become a temporary settlement area for people wanting to migrate to Australia.  In exchange for operating detention centers, Nauru receives needed economic support from Australia.

MARTIN
Copyright 2016 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.