Nauru

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Overview
Rags to riches to rags again. That is, unfortunately, the story of Nauru. Just a few years ago, it was one of the wealthiest nations in the world, paying for a huge bloated government with proceeds from sales of its phosphate. The island, however, is only about nine square miles and the phosphate was finite. Now it’s almost all gone. The Nauruan government used the phosphate profits to purchase land and other real estate around the world so that the nation would have income after the phosphate was mined out.  Unfortunately, the government used the properties to borrow more money, and now those properties have been lost. The Nauruan people, who struggled for years to gain control of their own resource, which had previously been exploited by others (primarily Australia), now find themselves going from objects of envy to just another Pacific island people staring at an uncertain future.
 
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Basic Information
Location: Nauru is located just south of the Equator, northeast of Papua New Guinea, south of the Marshall Islands and west of Kiribati. It is a single raised coral island consisting of only 21 square kilometers of land.
 
Population: 13,770 (2008 est.)
 
Religions: Protestant: 66.66%; Roman Catholic: 33.33%
 
Ethnic Groups: Nauruan: 58%; other Pacific Islanders: 26% (mostly Tuvaluans and Gilbertese); Chinese: 8%; European: 8%
 
Languages: Nauruan and English.
 

 

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History
Nauru’s extreme isolation played a big part in its historical development. The origin of the indigenous people is not entirely clear and their language is fairly distinct from other Micronesian languages. Frequent dry spells kept the population limited, and strong currents could often push fishing canoes west into empty ocean from which they sometimes didn’t return. There is a fertile belt around the shore of the island and around a brackish lagoon in the interior. The center of the island, at one time made up of almost pure phosphate, was useless for living or agriculture. Eventually, beachcombers and traders settled in, intermarrying with the Nauruans. In 1878 a civil war erupted among various alliances of the traditional districts, and the killing was non-stop. In 1888 the Germans came in and, through force of arms, confiscated all guns and put an end to the warfare. Germany then annexed Nauru. Protestant and Catholic missionaries arrived, and traditional dances were banned and the people started wearing western clothing.
           
Soon it was discovered that much of the island consisted of a high grade of phosphate, a mineral vitally important as a fertilizer. The Germans allowed Australian, British, and New Zealand interests to mine the phosphate, but the Nauruans were not fairly compensated. During World War I, the Australian military forces captured Nauru from the Germans, just before a Japanese force arrived with the same intent. The Japanese forces withdrew, and at the end of the war Nauru became a League of Nations mandated territory administered by Australia. Phosphate mining continued, again with little or no compensation for the Nauruans. During World War II the Japanese occupied Nauru, mined the phosphate, and forced the Nauruans to work there and on islands across Micronesia. Japanese treatment of the Nauruans was harsh. The end of WWII saw the defeat of the Japanese and the return of the Australians as Nauru became a United Nations trust territory administered by Australia. Full independence, and full control of the phosphate, was achieved in 1968.
           
Through the 1970s and 1980s, Nauru was one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Phosphate paid for everything, as the government took half the profits per ton (landowners took the other half) to fund the government and establish a trust fund to keep the revenue flowing when the phosphate ran out. Hotels, apartments, factories, and land were purchased all over Australia, the Pacific islands, and even in the United States. But by the late 1990s, with the phosphate almost gone, the government began borrowing against the trust fund investments. Blatant corruption by many government officials exacerbated the situation, and by the early 2000s, Nauru began losing its investment properties. Its government is now broke and dependent on Australia.

 

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Nauru's Newspapers
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History of U.S. Relations with Nauru
Prior to independence, the United States had no direct relations with Nauru, only with its administering authority of Australia. 
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Current U.S. Relations with Nauru
Since Nauru’s independence in 1968, relations with the United States have been cordial. There have been no conflicts or disputes. There is no U.S. embassy or consular office in Nauru, and the U.S. ambassador to Fiji is accredited with Nauru as well.
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Where Does the Money Flow
In 2007, the United States imported $586,000 worth of goods from Nauru, most of that in fish and in U.S. goods returned or re-imported. The same year, the United States exported goods worth $8,140,000 to Nauru, most of that fish. The United States has no aid programs active in Nauru. Nauru still uses Australian currency and Australia provides military defense.
 
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Controversies
Trading Refugees
In 2007 the United States and Australia discussed a possible “refugee swap,” whereby the United States would send 200 Cuban and Haitian asylum seekers housed at the U.S. base at Guantánamo, Cuba, to Nauru in exchange for 90 Sri Lankan and Burmese refugees housed on Nauru. The Bush administration thought such a trade would discourage Cubans and Haitians from trying to make it to the United States. Human rights groups objected.  In February 2008, a newly-elected government in Australia scrapped the deal,  
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Human Rights
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors
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Nauru's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Moses, Marlene

There is no Nauruan embassy in the United States but there is a Permanent Mission of the Republic of Nauru to the United Nations, and its Representative is considered the ambassador to both the United Nations and the United States. Since June 2005 that has been Marlene Moses, who was born on Nauru in 1961. Moses was educated at the Canberra College of Advanced Education (currently the University of Canberra) and at Monash University, the largest in Australia. She joined the Nauru Foreign Service in 1983 as a Foreign Affairs Officer. She served as Consul in Tokyo, Japan, from 1988 to 1990, and then as Consul-General in Auckland, New Zealand, from 1991-1995. This was followed by an appointment as Assistant Director in the Department of Foreign Affairs from 1995 to 1996. Moses then became chairperson of the Lands Negotiation Committee, coordinator of the Economic Strategy Committee, and a member of the Nauru Rehabilitation Corporation – Land Use Planning Committee. From 1999 to 2000 she served as Permanent Secretary for Internal Affairs, and then from 2000 to 2003 as Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services. In November 2003 Moses was appointed Nauru’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations. 
 

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Nauru's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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U.S. Ambassador to Nauru

Reed, Frankie
ambassador-image

Career diplomat Frankie Annette Reed has been chosen to serve as ambassador to the Pacific island nations of Fiji, Tonga, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Nauru. Her Senate confirmation hearing was held on June 29, 2011, and she was confirmed on August 3.

 
A native of Baltimore, Reed holds a BA in journalism from Howard University and a JD from the University of California, Berkeley and was admitted to the California State Bar in 1979. Prior to joining the Foreign Service in 1983, she was a Peace Corps volunteer and a journalist.
 
Reed’s earlier overseas assignments included: political officer in Nairobi, Kenya and Yaoundé, Cameroon; political section chief in Dakar, Senegal, and deputy director in the Office of Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island Affairs.
 
Her early work at the State Department involved being the desk officer in the Bureaus of African Affairs and Western Hemispheric Affairs
 
From 1999 to 2002, Reed was deputy chief of mission in Apia, Samoa.
 
She served as deputy chief of mission in Conakry, Guinea from 2003-2005.
 
Reed was the consul general and deputy U.S. observer to the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France from 2005-2008. 
 
She served as a diplomat-in-residence at the University of California, Berkeley, before becoming deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, responsible for relations with Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Island posts.  
 

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Nauru

McGann, C. Steven
ambassador-image

C. Steven McGann, a longtime member of the Foreign Service whose work has spanned from Africa to South Asia, received his first ambassadorship in being selected to be the United States’ top envoy to Fiji, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Tonga, and Nauru. He assumed his position on October 8, 2008.

 
McGann attended university at Claremont McKenna College in Southern California, earning a Bachelor of Arts in 1973. He then pursued graduate studies in comparative government at Cornell University (1975-1978).
 
After joining the Foreign Service, his first overseas posts were in Taiwan, Zaire, South Africa, Australia and Kenya.
 
In 1998 McGann was sent to the U.S. Mission at the United Nations, where he developed and implemented Security Council strategies for Afghanistan, Cyprus, Nagorno-Karabakh and Chechnya, as well as peacekeeping operations in Georgia and Tajikistan.
 
In 2000, McGann was appointed South Asia Bureau Deputy Director for Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
 
Three years later he earned a Masters of Science degree from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at the National Defense University.
 
 
In 2007, McGann participated in the Fourth Joint Force Maritime Commander Component Course at the Naval War College.
 
 
McGann and his wife, Bertra, have four sons and a daughter.
 

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Bookmark and Share
News
more less
Overview
Rags to riches to rags again. That is, unfortunately, the story of Nauru. Just a few years ago, it was one of the wealthiest nations in the world, paying for a huge bloated government with proceeds from sales of its phosphate. The island, however, is only about nine square miles and the phosphate was finite. Now it’s almost all gone. The Nauruan government used the phosphate profits to purchase land and other real estate around the world so that the nation would have income after the phosphate was mined out.  Unfortunately, the government used the properties to borrow more money, and now those properties have been lost. The Nauruan people, who struggled for years to gain control of their own resource, which had previously been exploited by others (primarily Australia), now find themselves going from objects of envy to just another Pacific island people staring at an uncertain future.
 
more less
Basic Information
Location: Nauru is located just south of the Equator, northeast of Papua New Guinea, south of the Marshall Islands and west of Kiribati. It is a single raised coral island consisting of only 21 square kilometers of land.
 
Population: 13,770 (2008 est.)
 
Religions: Protestant: 66.66%; Roman Catholic: 33.33%
 
Ethnic Groups: Nauruan: 58%; other Pacific Islanders: 26% (mostly Tuvaluans and Gilbertese); Chinese: 8%; European: 8%
 
Languages: Nauruan and English.
 

 

more less
History
Nauru’s extreme isolation played a big part in its historical development. The origin of the indigenous people is not entirely clear and their language is fairly distinct from other Micronesian languages. Frequent dry spells kept the population limited, and strong currents could often push fishing canoes west into empty ocean from which they sometimes didn’t return. There is a fertile belt around the shore of the island and around a brackish lagoon in the interior. The center of the island, at one time made up of almost pure phosphate, was useless for living or agriculture. Eventually, beachcombers and traders settled in, intermarrying with the Nauruans. In 1878 a civil war erupted among various alliances of the traditional districts, and the killing was non-stop. In 1888 the Germans came in and, through force of arms, confiscated all guns and put an end to the warfare. Germany then annexed Nauru. Protestant and Catholic missionaries arrived, and traditional dances were banned and the people started wearing western clothing.
           
Soon it was discovered that much of the island consisted of a high grade of phosphate, a mineral vitally important as a fertilizer. The Germans allowed Australian, British, and New Zealand interests to mine the phosphate, but the Nauruans were not fairly compensated. During World War I, the Australian military forces captured Nauru from the Germans, just before a Japanese force arrived with the same intent. The Japanese forces withdrew, and at the end of the war Nauru became a League of Nations mandated territory administered by Australia. Phosphate mining continued, again with little or no compensation for the Nauruans. During World War II the Japanese occupied Nauru, mined the phosphate, and forced the Nauruans to work there and on islands across Micronesia. Japanese treatment of the Nauruans was harsh. The end of WWII saw the defeat of the Japanese and the return of the Australians as Nauru became a United Nations trust territory administered by Australia. Full independence, and full control of the phosphate, was achieved in 1968.
           
Through the 1970s and 1980s, Nauru was one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Phosphate paid for everything, as the government took half the profits per ton (landowners took the other half) to fund the government and establish a trust fund to keep the revenue flowing when the phosphate ran out. Hotels, apartments, factories, and land were purchased all over Australia, the Pacific islands, and even in the United States. But by the late 1990s, with the phosphate almost gone, the government began borrowing against the trust fund investments. Blatant corruption by many government officials exacerbated the situation, and by the early 2000s, Nauru began losing its investment properties. Its government is now broke and dependent on Australia.

 

more less
Nauru's Newspapers
more less
History of U.S. Relations with Nauru
Prior to independence, the United States had no direct relations with Nauru, only with its administering authority of Australia. 
more less
Current U.S. Relations with Nauru
Since Nauru’s independence in 1968, relations with the United States have been cordial. There have been no conflicts or disputes. There is no U.S. embassy or consular office in Nauru, and the U.S. ambassador to Fiji is accredited with Nauru as well.
more less
Where Does the Money Flow
In 2007, the United States imported $586,000 worth of goods from Nauru, most of that in fish and in U.S. goods returned or re-imported. The same year, the United States exported goods worth $8,140,000 to Nauru, most of that fish. The United States has no aid programs active in Nauru. Nauru still uses Australian currency and Australia provides military defense.
 
more less
Controversies
Trading Refugees
In 2007 the United States and Australia discussed a possible “refugee swap,” whereby the United States would send 200 Cuban and Haitian asylum seekers housed at the U.S. base at Guantánamo, Cuba, to Nauru in exchange for 90 Sri Lankan and Burmese refugees housed on Nauru. The Bush administration thought such a trade would discourage Cubans and Haitians from trying to make it to the United States. Human rights groups objected.  In February 2008, a newly-elected government in Australia scrapped the deal,  
more less
Human Rights
more less
Debate
more less
Past Ambassadors
more less
Nauru's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Moses, Marlene

There is no Nauruan embassy in the United States but there is a Permanent Mission of the Republic of Nauru to the United Nations, and its Representative is considered the ambassador to both the United Nations and the United States. Since June 2005 that has been Marlene Moses, who was born on Nauru in 1961. Moses was educated at the Canberra College of Advanced Education (currently the University of Canberra) and at Monash University, the largest in Australia. She joined the Nauru Foreign Service in 1983 as a Foreign Affairs Officer. She served as Consul in Tokyo, Japan, from 1988 to 1990, and then as Consul-General in Auckland, New Zealand, from 1991-1995. This was followed by an appointment as Assistant Director in the Department of Foreign Affairs from 1995 to 1996. Moses then became chairperson of the Lands Negotiation Committee, coordinator of the Economic Strategy Committee, and a member of the Nauru Rehabilitation Corporation – Land Use Planning Committee. From 1999 to 2000 she served as Permanent Secretary for Internal Affairs, and then from 2000 to 2003 as Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services. In November 2003 Moses was appointed Nauru’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations. 
 

more less
Nauru's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
more less

Comments

Leave a comment

U.S. Ambassador to Nauru

Reed, Frankie
ambassador-image

Career diplomat Frankie Annette Reed has been chosen to serve as ambassador to the Pacific island nations of Fiji, Tonga, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Nauru. Her Senate confirmation hearing was held on June 29, 2011, and she was confirmed on August 3.

 
A native of Baltimore, Reed holds a BA in journalism from Howard University and a JD from the University of California, Berkeley and was admitted to the California State Bar in 1979. Prior to joining the Foreign Service in 1983, she was a Peace Corps volunteer and a journalist.
 
Reed’s earlier overseas assignments included: political officer in Nairobi, Kenya and Yaoundé, Cameroon; political section chief in Dakar, Senegal, and deputy director in the Office of Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island Affairs.
 
Her early work at the State Department involved being the desk officer in the Bureaus of African Affairs and Western Hemispheric Affairs
 
From 1999 to 2002, Reed was deputy chief of mission in Apia, Samoa.
 
She served as deputy chief of mission in Conakry, Guinea from 2003-2005.
 
Reed was the consul general and deputy U.S. observer to the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France from 2005-2008. 
 
She served as a diplomat-in-residence at the University of California, Berkeley, before becoming deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, responsible for relations with Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Island posts.  
 

more

Previous U.S. Ambassador to Nauru

McGann, C. Steven
ambassador-image

C. Steven McGann, a longtime member of the Foreign Service whose work has spanned from Africa to South Asia, received his first ambassadorship in being selected to be the United States’ top envoy to Fiji, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Tonga, and Nauru. He assumed his position on October 8, 2008.

 
McGann attended university at Claremont McKenna College in Southern California, earning a Bachelor of Arts in 1973. He then pursued graduate studies in comparative government at Cornell University (1975-1978).
 
After joining the Foreign Service, his first overseas posts were in Taiwan, Zaire, South Africa, Australia and Kenya.
 
In 1998 McGann was sent to the U.S. Mission at the United Nations, where he developed and implemented Security Council strategies for Afghanistan, Cyprus, Nagorno-Karabakh and Chechnya, as well as peacekeeping operations in Georgia and Tajikistan.
 
In 2000, McGann was appointed South Asia Bureau Deputy Director for Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
 
Three years later he earned a Masters of Science degree from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at the National Defense University.
 
 
In 2007, McGann participated in the Fourth Joint Force Maritime Commander Component Course at the Naval War College.
 
 
McGann and his wife, Bertra, have four sons and a daughter.
 

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