The first European settlers named Nauru ‘Pleasant Island’ and this Micronesian country is both the smallest republic in the world and one of the most remote. Initially colonized by Micronesian and Polynesian populations, Nauru was then colonially annexed, eventually coming under German colonial rule. In the 1900’s the British discovered phosphates on Nauru and negotiated with the Germans for rights to them. Soon after that, the mining of phosphates began; now the resources are almost depleted. At the beginning of the First World War Nauru was seized by Australians, and taken over by the British until 1920, when it became a Class ‘C’ mandate under the League of Nations.
In the 1950’s Nauruans began to speak out about independence, and in 1968 it was finally granted. Unfortunately, the financial future of the island is uncertain, as the nation relies on outside imports for almost everything. Sliding into bankruptcy and a dependence on foreign aid, Nauru has significantly felt the pressures of the recent financial crisis; although the government has tried to develop offshore banking and tourism with the aim of creating alternative industries to bring in some new wealth. Now Australia is working with Nauru to overcome its financial problems.
Nauruans, who have a Micronesian and Polynesian ancestry, make up about 58% of the population, with the rest of the population being a mix of general Pacific Islander, Chinese and European heritage. Nauruan is the language that is spoken by everyone here; however English is used for official purposes. An important part of the islands culture is Angam Day, which celebrates what was left of the Nauruans population after both World Wars. Even though the population is still recovering and western influences on the island are clearly seen, aspects of traditional music, arts and fishing are still practiced. A book related to the Nauruan history is Paradise for Sale, by John Gowdy.