The exact origins of the Nauruans are unclear since their language does not resemble any other in the Pacific region. Germany annexed the island in 1888. A German-British consortium began mining the island's phosphate deposits early in the 20th century. Australian forces occupied Nauru in World War I; it 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.



Oceania, island in the South Pacific Ocean, south of the Marshall Islands

Geographic coordinates

0 32 S, 166 55 E

Map references



total: 21 sq km
land: 21 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative

about 0.1 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

0 km


30 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


tropical with a monsoonal pattern; rainy season (November to February)


sandy beach rises to fertile ring around raised coral reefs with phosphate plateau in center


mean elevation: NA
elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed elevation along plateau rim 61 m

Natural resources

phosphates, fish

Land use

agricultural land: 20%
arable land 0%; permanent crops 20%; permanent pasture 0%
forest: 0%
other: 80% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

0 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards

periodic droughts

Environment - current issues

limited natural freshwater resources, roof storage tanks collect rainwater but mostly dependent on a single, aging desalination plant; a century of intensive phosphate mining beginning in 1906 - mainly by a UK, Australia, and NZ consortium - left the central 90% of Nauru a wasteland and threatens limited remaining land resources

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note

world's smallest island country; situated just 53 km south of the Equator; Nauru is one of the three great phosphate rock islands in the Pacific Ocean - the others are Banaba (Ocean Island) in Kiribati and Makatea in French Polynesia

People and Society


9,591 (July 2016 est.)


noun: Nauruan(s)
adjective: Nauruan

Ethnic groups

Nauruan 58%, other Pacific Islander 26%, Chinese 8%, European 8%


Nauruan 93% (official, a distinct Pacific Island language), English 2% (widely understood, spoken, and used for most government and commercial purposes), other 5% (includes I-Kiribati 2% and Chinese 2%)
note: percentages represent main language spoken at home; Nauruan is spoken by 95% of the population, English by 66%, and other languages by 12% (2011 est.)


Protestant 60.4% (includes Nauru Congregational 35.7%, Assembly of God 13%, Nauru Independent Church 9.5%, Baptist 1.5%, and Seventh Day Adventist 0.7%), Roman Catholic 33%, other 3.7%, none 1.8%, unspecified 1.1% (2011 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 31.93% (male 1,336/female 1,726)
15-24 years: 16.09% (male 779/female 764)
25-54 years: 43.33% (male 2,085/female 2,071)
55-64 years: 6.29% (male 236/female 367)
65 years and over: 2.37% (male 89/female 138) (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

0.52% (2016 est.)

Median age

total: 26.1 years
male: 26.5 years
female: 25.5 years (2016 est.)

Birth rate

24.4 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

5.9 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

-13.2 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)


urban population: 100% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 0.19% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Sex ratio

at birth: 0.83 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 0.77 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.64 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.63 male(s)/female
total population: 0.89 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 7.9 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 10.2 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.1 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 67.1 years
male: 63 years
female: 70.5 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

2.84 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

35.6% (2007)

Health expenditures

3.3% of GDP (2014)

Physicians density

0.71 physicians/1,000 population (2010)

Hospital bed density

5 beds/1,000 population (2010)

Drinking water source

urban: 96.5% of population
total: 96.5% of population
urban: 3.5% of population
total: 3.5% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 65.6% of population
total: 65.6% of population
urban: 34.4% of population
total: 34.4% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Obesity - adult prevalence rate

45.1% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

4.8% (2007)

Education expenditures


School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 9 years
male: 9 years
female: 10 years (2008)

Mother's mean age at first birth

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2007 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Nauru
conventional short form: Nauru
local long form: Republic of Nauru
local short form: Nauru
former: Pleasant Island
etymology: the island name may derive from the Nauruan word "anaoero" meaning "I go to the beach"

Government type

parliamentary republic


no official capital; government offices in Yaren District
time difference: UTC+12 (17 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

14 districts; Aiwo, Anabar, Anetan, Anibare, Baiti, Boe, Buada, Denigomodu, Ewa, Ijuw, Meneng, Nibok, Uaboe, Yaren


31 January 1968 (from the Australia-, NZ-, and UK-administered UN trusteeship)

National holiday

Independence Day, 31 January (1968)


effective 29 January 1968; amended 1968, 2009, 2014 (2016)

Legal system

mixed legal system of common law based on the English model and customary law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


20 years of age; universal and compulsory

National symbol(s)

frigatebird, calophyllum flower; national colors: blue, yellow, white

Executive branch

chief of state: President Baron WAQA (since 11 June 2013); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Baron WAQA (since 11 June 2013)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president from among members of Parliament
elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by Parliament for a 3-year renewable term; election last held on 11 June 2013 (next to be held in 2016)
election results: Baron WAQA reelected president on 11 June 2013; Parliament vote - Baron WAQA (independent) 13, Roland KUN (Nauru First) 5

Legislative branch

description: unicameral parliament (19 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by majority vote; members serve 3-year terms)
elections: last held on 9 July 2016 (next to be held in 2019)
election results: percent of vote - NA; seats - independent 19

International organization participation


Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of a chief justice and 1 judge)
judge selection and term of office: judges appointed by the president to serve until age 65
subordinate courts: District Court, Family Court

Political parties and leaders

Democratic Party [Kennan ADEANG]
Nauru First (Naoero Amo) Party
Nauru Party (informal)
note: loose multiparty system

Political pressure groups and leaders

Woman Information and News Agency (women's issues)

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Marlene Inemwin MOSES (since 10 February 2006)
chancery: 800 2nd Avenue, Suite 400 D, New York, NY 10017
telephone: [1] (212) 937-0074
FAX: [1] (212) 937-0079

Diplomatic representation from the US

the US does not have an embassy in Nauru; the US Ambassador to Fiji is accredited to Nauru

Flag description

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

National anthem

name: "Nauru Bwiema" (Song of Nauru)
lyrics/music: Margaret HENDRIE/Laurence Henry HICKS
note: adopted 1968


Economy - overview

Revenues of this tiny island - a coral atoll with a land area of 21 square kilometers - traditionally have come from exports of phosphates. Few other resources exist, with most necessities being imported, mainly from Australia, its former occupier and lat

The rehabilitation of mined land and the replacement of income from phosphates are serious long-term problems. In anticipation of the exhaustion of Nauru's phosphate deposits, substantial amounts of phosphate income were invested in trust funds to help cu

Although revenue sources for government are limited, the opening of the Australian Regional Processing Center for asylum seekers since 2012 has sparked growth in the economy. Revenue derived from fishing licenses under the "vessel day scheme" has also boo

GDP (official exchange rate)

$150.8 million (2015 est.)

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$150.8 million (2015 est.)
$139.7 million (2014 est.)
$127 million (2013 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

8% (2015 est.)
10% (2014 est.)
4.5% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$14,800 (2015 est.)
$13,700 (2014 est.)
$12,500 (2013 est.)
note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 6.1%
industry: 33%
services: 60.8% (2009 est.)

Industrial production growth rate


Agriculture - products



phosphate mining, offshore banking, coconut products

Labor force


Labor force - by occupation

note: most of the labor force is employed in phosphate mining, public administration, education, and transportation

Unemployment rate

23% (2011 est.)
90% (2004 est.)

Population below poverty line


Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $57.8 million
expenditures: $51.8 million (2010 est.)

Fiscal year

1 July - 30 June

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

8% (2015 est.)
5% (2015 est.)


$125 million (2013 est.)
$110.3 million (2012 est.)

Exports - commodities



$143.1 million (2013 est.)
$41.2 million (2012 est.)

Imports - commodities

food, fuel, manufactures, building materials, machinery

Debt - external

$33.3 million (2004 est.)

Exchange rates

Australian dollars (AUD) per US dollar -
1.352 (2016 est.)
1.3291 (2015 est.)
1.3291 (2014 est.)
1.0358 (2013 est.)
0.97 (2012 est.)


Electricity - production

25 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

23.25 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

5,000 kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

100% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

400 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

394.8 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

200,000 Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 1,900
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 14 (July 2009 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 6,800
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 73 (July 2012 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: adequate local and international radiotelephone communication provided via Australian facilities
international: country code - 674; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean)

Broadcast media

1 government-owned TV 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)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 5,100
percent of population: 53.5% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 1
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 5
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 38,858
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 7,793,474 mt-km (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

C2 (2016)


1 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)


total: 30 km
paved: 24 km
unpaved: 6 km (2002)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Nauru


Military branches

no regular military forces (2012)

Military - note

Nauru maintains no defense forces; under an informal agreement, defense is the responsibility of Australia

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international