Capital city: Yaren
Currency: Australian dollar (AUD)
Language: Nauruan and English
GDP: USD$160 million
GDP per capita: USD$15,867
Nauru, officially the Republic of Nauru, is an island country in Micronesia (located north of the Solomon Islands and south of the Marshall Islands). Covering only 21 square kilometres, Nauru is the third smallest state in the world (behind only Vatican City and Monaco).
Nauru is a phosphate rock island with rich deposits near the surface, which allowed easy strip mining operations. Phosphate (droppings of seabirds) was discovered on Nauru in 1900 by the prospector, Albert Fuller Elli. In 1907 The Pacific Phosphate Company began mining and exporting the reserves. In the late 1960s/70s, the royalties from phosphate mining propelled Nauru to the highest per-capita income in the world.
In 1967, the people of Nauru purchased the assets of the British Phosphate Commissioners, and in June 1970 control passed to the locally owned Nauru Phosphate Corporation. When the phosphate reserves were exhausted, the trust that had been established to manage the island's wealth diminished in value (from A$1.3 billion in 1991 to less than $50 million now). Mining has stripped and devastated about 80% of Nauru's land area, and 40% of marine life is estimated to have been killed by silt and phosphate runoff.
Nauruans are the most overweight people in the world with 71.7% being obese. Nauru has the world's highest level of type 2 diabetes (40% of the population), and high rates of kidney disease and heart disease.
In the 1990s, Nauru became a tax haven and offered passports to foreign nationals for a fee. In addition, it was possible to establish a licensed bank in Nauru for only $25,000 with no other requirements. There are no personal or corporate taxes in Nauru. In July 2017 the OECD upgraded its rating of Nauru's standards of tax transparency to a rating of ‘largely compliant’.