Flag of Nauru

Nauru country brief

Overview

Nauru is an island republic in the Pacific Ocean, 42 kilometers south of the Equator and 4000 kilometers northeast of Sydney. A raised, fossilised coral atoll, Nauru is one of three great phosphate rock islands in the Pacific Ocean – the other two being Banaba (Ocean Island) in Kiribati and Makatea in French Polynesia. Nauru has a total land area of 21 square kilometers.

Nauru has a population of approximately 10,000 people, most of whom are indigenous Nauruans of predominantly Micronesian origin. Non-Nauruans are principally other Pacific Islanders, Chinese, Australian and Filipino expatriates.

Political overview

Nauru is one of the world's smallest independent, democratic states. Its constitution, adopted in 1968, established it as a republic with a Westminster style parliamentary system of government. The President is elected by, and responsible to, the unicameral Parliament and is both head of government and head of state.

As there are no political parties in Nauru, all MPs stand as independents. MPs are elected every three years by Nauruan citizens over the age of 20. At its first sitting, where possible, Parliament chooses a Speaker, a Deputy Speaker and Chairs of Committees before proceeding to elect the President from among the remaining members. The President then appoints a minimum of four members of Parliament to join him (or her) in forming a Cabinet. Following elections on 8 June 2013, Baron Waqa was appointed President.

Bilateral relations

Australia enjoys good relations with Nauru and is its largest trade, investment and development assistance partner. In August 2009, then President Stephen signed a Pacific Partnership for Development at the Pacific Islands Forum in Cairns with then Prime Minister Rudd. The Australian Government upgraded its mission in Nauru from Consulate-General to High Commission in August 2009.

In September 2012, Australia established an Offshore Processing Centre (OPC ) in Nauru for the purpose of processing asylum seekers’ international protection claims.

Nauru participates in the Seasonal Worker Program. Under the Program, seasonal horticultural workers from Pacific countries are recruited by horticultural enterprises in Australia to meet their seasonal harvest needs.

People to people links

Every year, 10 Australia Awards Scholarships are offered for Nauruans to study abroad at selected Pacific regional universities, supported by an Australia Awards Pacific Scholarships.

With very limited tertiary study opportunities in Nauru, these scholarships are helping to develop the skills and knowledge base of the country.

So far, the scholarship program has produced very positive results, especially in the development of the public service, with graduates taking up roles in a range of GoN departments. Three trainee nurses have been promoted to Graduate Nurses in the Nauru hospital, Nauru’s first law graduate is working as a Principal Legal Officer with the Department of Justice and Border Control, and a former accountant has achieved a Graduate Diploma in Business Administration and has taken up a senior position in the Nauru Utilities Corporation.

Development assistance

Australia's development assistance to Nauru is based on a Partnership for Development and focuses on improving education, health, infrastructure, and public sector management, and building the private sector.

Australia's aid to Nauru supports the Nauru Government's own development strategy (the National Sustainable Development Strategy – NSDS). Australia provides more aid to Nauru than any other donor, supporting most areas of government and public services. The Australian Government provides skilled people to operate in key leadership and management roles in government agencies such as the Departments of Finance and Health as well as in State Owned Enterprises such as the Nauru Utilities Corporation, and Nauru's Fisheries Agency. The AFP provides some senior policing advisers to assist with capacity building for the Nauru Police Force.

Australian aid also provides funding toward repairing and maintaining Nauru's school buildings and hospitals as well as electricity generation and water desalination equipment. Australia funding also provided Nauru's first-ever trade training school and is supporting development of a second technical and vocational training Centre as part of Nauru’s new Learning Village, which was also established with Australian assistance. Australia's aid also provides pharmaceuticals and other medical supplies for the hospital

Direct Aid Program

The Direct Aid Program supports projects which directly contribute to the welfare and the income-generating capacity of poor or disadvantaged groups, or enhance the long-term productivity and sustainability of the physical environment.

Find out more about the Direct Aid Program

Economic overview

Nauru's economy faces significant constraints common to other island atoll states. These include its small size, remoteness, a harsh natural environment with infertile soils, limited exploitable resources and the need to create jobs and promote growth for an expanding population. Pelagic fish abound in Nauruan waters, but Nauru has been unable to establish a fishing industry of its own. Fees from fishing licenses issued to distant water fishing nations are an important source of revenue for Nauru. An Australian-funded fisheries adviser has been engaged to help maximise revenue from the country's marine assets. The phosphate industry also continues to be an important revenue stream providing an estimated 10 per cent of the national budget in 2014-15. However, revenue associated with the presence of the Offshore Processing Centre and its ancillary service providers represents Nauru’s most significant revenue stream.  The significant increase in the expatriate population has resulted in major increases in revenue from customs duties and other fees and levies. This increased economic activity has also resulted in Nauru now enjoying close to full employment and a booming private sector.

Trade and investment

Australian merchandise exports to Nauru in 2012-13 totaled $60.5 million (principally prefabricated buildings and civil engineering equipment and parts).

High level visits

December 2013: Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Julie Bishop, led a parliamentary delegation to Nauru, accompanied by Senator Brett Mason, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Members of the Opposition, Tanya Plibersek and Matt Thistlethwaite, and Ambassador for Women and Girls, Natasha Stott Despoja AM.

Visitor information

Australians travelling to Nauru are advised to consult the Smartraveller travel advice.