When it comes to the richest nations, the first thing that comes to mind is probably the Middle Eastern nations – developed from oil. But Nauru is completely different, this is the smallest island nation in the Pacific and was once rich enough to compete with Saudi Arabia.
Although the land area is only 21 square kilometers, Nauru became rich overnight after selling “guano”.
The Republic of Nauru, is an island nation in Micronesia in the South Pacific. With 9,378 inhabitants living on an area of 21 square kilometers, Nauru is the smallest country in the South Pacific, the third smallest in the world by area, after Vatican City and the Principality of Monaco, and the smallest island nation. In the world.
Nauru is also the smallest republic in the world.
However, the nation’s wealth lasted only a few decades, after which Nauru returned to poverty and everything the island nation experienced seemed like a dream. Now, Nauru has become an illegal money laundering center, tax haven and like a refugee camp for the underworld. What exactly happened to this small island nation?
Before becoming rich, Nauru had to suffer a lot of troubles related to bird droppings. Micronesians and Polynesians were the first people to live in Nauru, at least 3,000 years ago.
Traditionally, there are 12 clans or tribes in Nauru, represented by a 12-pointed star on the flag. According to tradition, Nauru people traced their origins based on matriarchy. The islanders are engaged in aquaculture: they catch small ibija fish, adapt them to fresh water, they provide the island’s people with a stable source of food.
Nauru warrior, 1880.
On November 8, 1798, a British ship named the “Snow Hunter” discovered the island for the first time during its voyage. Although the sailors did not leave, the English captain John Fearn, a whale hunter, became the first Westerner to visit Nauru, the palm trees and the rocking beach on the island gave him a feeling very peaceful and Nauru was named “Pleasant” – “Pleasant”.
From around 1830, the Nauru had contact with the Europeans by the whaling boats and merchants supplementing their reserves (especially fresh water) in Nauru. Around this time, defectors from European ships began to live on the island.
Islanders traded food for coconut wine and firearms. The handguns used during the Nauru Tribal War began in 1878 and lasted 10 years.
However, due to its inability to find its rich resources and geographical location, Nauru did not become a colony of any country until the 1888s. annexed and incorporated into the German Protectorate of the Marshall Islands.
At the time, the German government only authorized a trading company to buy copra, so Nauru survived through the hustle of the 19th century with no problems, the natural environment of the island nation. This is also relatively well preserved.
It is often said that before the storm hits the sky will be clear, the sea calm and the scenery seems more beautiful than ever, and for Nauru too, this is just the beginning, the peace before the storm. storm struck.
In 1899, British geologist Albert Fuller Ellis found a “wood fossil” from Nauru in his Sydney office. Upon examination, he discovered that this is a very good quality phosphate rock. At that time, he thought, if he could find a stable source of exploitation, it would be a mine that made him a lot of money.
As a result, in 1901, Ellis landed on Nauru Island and was overwhelmed by the discovery that 80% of the rocks on the island nation were rich in phosphate.
Pacific Phosphate Company began to exploit the resource in 1906 under an agreement with Germany, exporting its first phosphate shipment in 1907. In ten years when the mineral mines were first discovered, Nauru has exported hundreds of thousands of tons of phosphate.
In 1914, after the outbreak of World War I, Australian troops captured Nauru. Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom signed the Nauru Island Agreement in 1919, establishing a committee called the British Phosphate Commission, which took over phosphate mining rights.
So why is this small island rich in phosphate rock resources? The reason is simple, their origin comes from the fact that the birds especially like to defecate on the island.
Nauru Island has been the only island in the sea within 300 square kilometers, so, except for Nauru, there is basically no other land in the Pacific Ocean for sea birds to rest. As a result, countless seabirds have gathered on Nauru Island to rest and thrive, followed by their droppings.
Over time, these droppings form a very thick, hard covering. Although guano is easily swept out to sea by water and rain, Nauru has a very special place.
In equatorial high temperatures, organophosphorus salts in bird droppings can quickly decompose and leave abundant phosphate. Under the effect of groundwater, alkali and phosphate are dissolved and reacted with calcium carbonate (calcium carbonate is often very high in coral islands) and various types of apatite cause rocks on the island. This has extremely high phosphate reserves.
This is also commonly known as “guano phosphate rock” – a unique product of the coast or island where many seabirds are concentrated. And you can say that Nauru is an island that grows on bird droppings.
Unlike regular phosphate ore, guano phosphate ore has an extremely high ratio of phosphorus, and because it is located close to the ground, compared to other types of ore, they are soft and easy to exploit. Therefore, it can be said that these guano phosphate ores have rewritten the fate of the Nauru people.
At the time after the outbreak of World War I, Australian troops occupied Nauru. Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom signed the Nauru Island Agreement in 1919, establishing a committee called the British Phosphate Commission, which took over phosphate mining rights.
Nauru experienced an influenza pandemic in 1920, with an mortality rate of 18 percent among indigenous Nauru people. In 1923, the League gave Australia trustee authority over Nauru, with the United Kingdom and New Zealand as co-management. On 6 and 7 December 1940, the auxiliary cruisers Komet and Orion of Germany sank five supply ships in the vicinity of Nauru. Komet then fired artillery at phosphate mining areas, oil depots, and cargo beams onto the island.
In 1942, the Japanese invaded Nauru and thousands of Japanese soldiers were stationed on the island. Although phosphate mining was finished, the Japanese army began to suppress and execute the Naurus people as soon as they landed.
At that time, 1,200 Nauru workers were deported to the Chuuk Islands, and nearly half of them were starved, abused and enslaved to death. By the end of World War II in 1945, there were fewer than 600 indigenous Nauru in Chuuk.
After World War II ended, the United Nations established a trust regime in Nauru, with Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom acting as trustees. The exploitation of resources was immediately restored.
By 1968, more than 35 million tons of phosphate was sent to fertile lands in countries like Australia and New Zealand.
However, during this time, Nauru also gradually realized the importance of phosphate rock. Finally, after a series of activities, Nauru also gained independence in 1968.
In fact, at this independent time, the natural condition of two-thirds of the phosphate rock area on the island was still at pre-mining level.
In the first year of recovering phosphate mineral rights, the amount of Nauru’s ore mining exceeded the total output of the German colonial times. Relying on abundant mineral resources, Nauru can be said to get rich overnight and make the list of the richest countries in the world. Nauru’s GDP per capita also ranks second in the world in a short period of time, behind only Saudi Arabia, which is based on oil.
Although not everyone is wealthy, every Nauruan person is supported by a lot of government benefits, they have free health insurance, housing and education and never pay taxes. .
And with this money, Nauru entered a world of mere play and enjoyment. The people of Naurus spend most of their time entertaining and not having to worry about working issues.
In 1982, the New York Times reported that Nauru is the richest place in the world.
In 1980, only 2,156 of the 7,000 Nauru people were employed and more than 90% of them were civil servants serving the government. And the Nauru basically lost their jobs to foreign workers.
Moreover, overexploitation led to depleted phosphate resources, and the country’s finance began to plummet. Australian economist Helen Hughes estimates that from 1968 to 2002, phosphate ore generated A $ 3.6 billion for Nauru with a profit of A $ 1.8 billion. If properly invested, the value of the 2004 trust fund will exceed A $ 8 billion and an average Nauru family will receive an income of A $ 4 million. In fact, Nauru’s trust fund fell to $ 30 million in 2004.
In addition, the Nauruan government is corrupt and very “dissipated”. They have bought cruise ships, airplanes and a large number of hotels abroad to cater to the entertainment.
In 2016, author Jonathan Liew once wrote in the Telegraph: “By the end of the century, Nauru was almost bankrupt. The entire center of the island has been devastated by strip mining (a form of linear excavation). Unemployment rate is at 90%. Corruption and money laundering become rotten. Climate change is undermining the fishing industry. ”