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Nauru and the Pacific Islands

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Nauru, officially the Republic of Nauru, is an island nation in the Micronesian South Pacific. The nearest neighbour is Banaba Island in the Republic of Kiribati, 300 km due east. Nauru is the world's smallest island nation, covering just 21 kmē (8.1 sq. mi), the smallest independent republic, and the only republican state in the world without an official capital.[1]

Initially inhabited by Micronesian and Polynesian peoples, Nauru was annexed by Germany in the late 19th century, and became a mandate territory administered by Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom following World War I. The island was occupied by Japan during World War II, and after the war entered into trusteeship again. Nauru achieved independence in 1968.

Nauru is a phosphate rock island, and its primary economic activity since 1907 has been the export of phosphate mined from the island. [2] With the exhaustion of phosphate reserves, its environment severely degraded by mining, and the trust established to manage the island's wealth significantly reduced in value, the government of Nauru has resorted to unusual measures to obtain income. In the 1990s, Nauru briefly became a tax haven and money laundering centre. Since 2001, it has accepted aid from the Australian government; in exchange for this aid, Nauru houses an 'offshore' detention centre that holds and processes asylum seekers trying to enter Australia. (As of October 2006, the only remaining detainee is Mohammed Sagar.)

Nauru is a small, oval-shaped island in the western Pacific Ocean, 42 km (26 mi.) south of the Equator. The island is surrounded by a coral reef, exposed at low tide and dotted with pinnacles. The reef is bound seaward by deep water, and inside by a sandy beach. The presence of the reef has prevented the establishment of a seaport, although sixteen artificial canals have been made in the reef to allow small boats to access the island. A 150-300 m (about 500-1000 ft.) wide fertile coastal strip lies landward from the beach. Coral cliffs surround the central plateau, which is known on the island as Topside. The highest point of the plateau is 65 m (213 ft.) above sea level. The only fertile areas are the narrow coastal belt, where coconut palms flourish. The land surrounding Buada Lagoon supports bananas, pineapples; vegetable, pandanus trees and indigenous hardwoods such as the tomano tree are cultivated. The population of the island is concentrated in this coastal belt and around Buada Lagoon.

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