Today, 31 January, the Island Nation of Nauru celebrates its independence day

Nauru is pronounced as nɑːˈuː.ru and is described by many other countries and individuals as a “small independent island country in the Pacific Ocean”

Like many other countries across The Globe, Nauru, was colonised and directly governed by a European Power. In the case of Nauru, Germany was, until the last years of the 19th century, the European power who colonised Nauru and governed what the people and institutions of Nauru could do, or take part in. 

Once Nauru’s plentiful phosphorous reserves had been discovered and it was realised that the island’s natural resources could be a source of great riches, other countries took quite an interest in Nauru.

World Wars had an effect on things and Nauru ended up being controlled jointly by Australia, New Zealand and the UK following the end of World War II.

Nauru worked for its independence from these three countries and it became a sovereign state on January 31, 1968 when it formally declared its independence from the UK. More significantly though, that date is also of great significance to Nauruan people because 31 January is also the date when 1,200 native islanders were returned from the Chuuk Lagoon (or Truk) having been dragooned into forced labour by the Japanese during the second world war. The release of these islanders back to freedom is still celebrated in Nauru each year on their national day the 31st of January.

The National Flag of Nauru is the greatest representation of the country. The flag depicts the geographical position of Nauru – one degree below the Equator. The Equator is shown by a golden horizontal line and Nauru as a 12-point white star. The White colour signifies phosphate, the source of the nation’s prosperity, and each point represents one of the island’s indigenous tribes. The Pacific Ocean is represented by the blue background of the flag.

“Naurua Bwiema” is the national anthem. It was written by Margaret Hendrie in 1862 and Lawrence Hendrie composed the music.

The demographics of Nauru, are known through national censuses, which have been analysed by various statistical bureaus since the 1920s. The Nauru Bureau of Statistics have conducted this task since 1977—the first census since Nauru gained independence in 1968. The most recent census of Nauru was in 2011, when population had reached 10,000 (approximately 0.2% of Scotland’s population)

The population density in Nauru is 478 inhabitants per square kilometer (185 per square mile), and the overall life expectancy is 59.7 years. The population rose steadily from the 1960s until 2006. Since 1992, Nauru’s birth rate has exceeded its death rate; the natural growth rate is positive. In terms of age structure, the population is dominated by the 15–64-year-old segment (65.6%). The median age of the population is 21.5, and the estimated gender ratio of the population is 0.91 males per one female.

At present Nauru is inhabited mostly by Nauruans (93.6%) but as Nauru grows, and its global presence changes, that is likely to alter a bit as its contribution to Global Development and Influence develops in the positive way it has done to date.

Global Development and influence

The Republic of Nauru was admitted as the 187th member state of the United Nations in September 1999, and subsequently established its Permanent Mission in January 2000.

His Excellency, Ambassador Vinci Niel Clodumar became the first Permanent Representative of the Republic of Nauru to the United Nations (Dec.1999- February 2005).

The admission of Nauru as a Permanent Member of the United Nations represents the culmination of many years of work towards securing a recognised voice and place in the international community. Nauru’s involvement in the United Nations spans issues relating to global warming, rising sea-levels, nuclear testing, Pacific Aid and the development of measures designed to combat international terrorism. Nauru has also been a vocal supporter of human rights and self-determination for its Pacific neighbours.

The country’s participation in the United Nations is underlined by its Mission’s contribution, at the direction of Ambassador Clodumar, to international security and legal issues as well as strong involvement in matters concerning the Pacific region.

Author’s footnote: “so even very small countries can make a very positive impact on world affairs if they are given the independence to do so!”

Coral formations in Anibare bay, Nauru Image credit Hadi Zaher from Melbourne, Australia

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