The island of Nauru was already in the 1st millennium BC. populated by people who were probably originally from New Guinea. In 1798, the British navigator John Fearn came to the island and gave it the name “Pleasant Island”. The first European settlements were built in the 1930s by whalers who regularly visited the islands.
By 1888 there had been a series of armed clashes between European immigrants and the locals, who in turn fought among themselves. These conflicts only ended when the German Empire incorporated the island into its protectorate of the Marshall Islands in 1888 and had the weapons of the various parties confiscated.
- COUNTRYAAH: See current national flag of Nauru. Download high definition image, and learn flag meanings as well as the history of Nauru flags.
The island’s phosphate deposits were discovered at the end of the 19th century. The phosphate-rich rock was created by the infiltration of bird droppings into the porous subsoil and was particularly valuable as a basis for the production of fertilizers. In 1908, mining began by the English Pacific Phosphate Company in collaboration with the German Jaluit company.
The two world wars
After the outbreak of World War I, Nauru was occupied by Australian troops. After the defeat of Germany, the island became a national mandate in 1919 under the joint administration of Australia, Great Britain and New Zealand (alternating every five years). Phosphate mining continued to be carried out by the British Phosphate Commission, which was controlled by the three states.
In 1942, Nauru was conquered by Japanese troops during World War II. Around 1,200 Nauruans were deported to the Carolines’ Japanese labor camp, where around half of them died. After fierce fighting, Allied troops were able to recapture the island. In 1947, the United Nations (as the successor to the League of Nations) placed Nauru as a trust area under the administration of Australia.
The independence of Naurus
On January 31, 1966, the island received internal autonomy. According to AbbreviationFinder, a Legislative Council and a Council of Ministers were set up, the members of which were elected by the population. Exactly two years later, Nauru became an independent republic under the British Commonwealth of Nations. Chief Hammer de Roburt was elected President of the Republic by the Legislative Council. According to the constitution, he was also the country’s head of government. In terms of foreign policy, Nauru was initially represented by Australia.
In 1970, the state government of Nauru bought all rights for phosphate mining on the island for a sum of around 20 million Australian dollars, which from then on was in the hands of the state-owned Nauru Phosphate Corporation.
In 1971, Nauru, along with Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, West Samoa, Papua New Guinea and Tonga, was one of the founding members of the “South Pacific Forum”, which was intended to improve the region’s economic and political cooperation.
From 1976 to 1978 Bernard Dowiyogo became President of the Republic, then Hammer de Roburt was re-elected. He was forced to resign in 1989 after a vote of no confidence after suspecting corruption. Bernard Dowiyogo became President and Head of Government of Nauru for the second time, and he also took over the position of Foreign Minister.
The development since 1990
In the 1990s there were negative consequences of extensive phosphate mining, large parts of the island resembled a lunar landscape. It was also foreseeable that the deposits would soon be exhausted. President Bernard Dowiyogo, who was confirmed in office in 1992, announced that he wanted to recultivate the country in order to preserve agricultural land. In 1993, the government of Nauru Australia sued the International Court of The Hague for damages for phosphate mining until the late 1960s. Australia had to pay 107 million Australian dollars to make up for the environmental damage caused to Nauru.
Bernard Dowiyogo remained in the office of head of state until February 1997, his successor was Kinza Clodumar. After a year, Ren¨¦ Harris replaced him as the new president, head of government and foreign minister. In September 1999 Nauru became a member of the United Nations (UN). The government changed again in April 2000: Bernard Dowiyogo was elected head of state for the third time. But his term of office did not last long either: a vote of no confidence against him led to his fall and the re-election of Ren¨¦ Harris in March 2001. The country’s leadership changed frequently in the years that followed; after a vote of no confidence in 2004, Ludwig Scotty became President. While his reform policy was confirmed by voters in the mid-2007 general election, however, Scotty was forced to resign as a result of a government crisis over corruption allegations against Foreign and Finance Minister David Adeang after losing a vote of no confidence. In December 2007, a new government was sworn in under Marcus Stephen. In April 2008, Stephen dissolved the parliament following ongoing power struggles between President Stephen and the chairman of the opposition Adeang. In the subsequent new elections, the government was able to secure a solid majority in parliament. In April 2008, Stephen dissolved the parliament following ongoing power struggles between President Stephen and the chairman of the opposition Adeang. In the subsequent new elections, the government was able to secure a solid majority in parliament. In April 2008, Stephen dissolved the parliament following ongoing power struggles between President Stephen and the chairman of the opposition Adeang. In the subsequent new elections, the government was able to secure a solid majority in parliament.
In February 2010, Marcus Stephen had to face a vote of no confidence, which he won by a small majority. This victory was justified by the absence of opposition MP David Adeang, who subsequently claimed to have been prevented from entering Parliament by police officers. Following the announcement of a new vote of no confidence, Marcus Stephen dissolved the parliament in March 2010 and preferred the new elections scheduled for 2011. However, these led to a stalemate even after several rounds of elections: the 18 seats were divided equally. On June 12, the president declared a state of emergency and dissolved parliament again. New elections on June 19 in turn led to equal distribution between supporters and opponents of the president. Marcus Stephen then proposed increasing the parliamentary mandate to 19. After Stephen’s resignation, Frederick Pitcher (for only five days), Sprent Dabwido and finally the current President Baron Waqa followed in June 2013.
All governments in the republic faced the problem that the island’s main source of income (phosphate) would dry up in the foreseeable future. In order to attract foreign investors to the island, tax benefits were granted that led to the Republic appearing on the so-called “black list” of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) as one of the countries that experienced money laundering and / or unfair practices Tax policies have been accused. The per capita income of Naurus residents – still one of the richest countries in the world in the 1990s – is now as low as that of the surrounding Pacific countries.
Since 2002, refugees have been interned in Nauru based on an agreement with Australia, which was a lucrative source of income for Nauru. The camp was closed in 2008 after a change of government in Australia, but reopened in 2012.