ISLAM and MUSLIMS IN NAURU
Total area : 8 sq mi (21 sq km)
Population (2007 est.) : 13,528
Capital (2003 est.) : Yaren, 4,900
Monetary unit : Australian dollar
Languages : Nauruan (official), English
Ethnicity/race : Nauruan 58%, other Pacific Islander 26%, Chinese 8%, European 8%
Religions : Christian (two-thirds Protestant, one-third Roman Catholic)
Literacy rate : n.a
Economic summary : GDP/PPP (2005 est.): $60 million; per capita $5,000. Real growth rate: n.a. Inflation: –3.6% (1993).
Nauru (pronounced NAH-oo-roo) is an island in the Pacific just south of the equator, about 2,500 mi (4,023 km) southwest of Honolulu. Phosphate mining has virtually destroyed the tiny nation's ecology, turning its tropical vegetation into a barren, rocky wasteland.
In 1798, a British navigator became the first European to visit the island. Germany annexed it in 1888, and by the turn of the century, phosphate, a lucrative fertilizer, began to be mined. The island was placed under joint Australian, New Zealand, and British mandate after World War I. The Japanese occupied the island during World War II and forced 1,200 Nauruans—roughly two-thirds of the population—to relocate. In 1947, it became a UN trusteeship administered by Australia. By 1967, the phosphate mining industry finally was under the control of the islanders, and on Jan. 31, 1968, Nauru became one of the world's smallest independent republics. For a period of time, Nauru's phosphate made the tiny country's per capita income the highest in the world, after Saudi Arabia.
As its phosphate stores began to run out (by 2006, its reserves will be exhausted), the island was reduced to an environmental wasteland. Nauru appealed to the International Court of Justice to compensate for the damage from almost a century of phosphate strip-mining by foreign companies. In 1993, Australia offered Nauru an out-of-court settlement of 2.5 million Australian dollars annually for 20 years. New Zealand and the UK additionally agreed to pay a one-time settlement of $12 million each. Declining phosphate prices, the high cost of maintaining an international airline, and the government's financial mismanagement combined to make the economy collapse in the late 1990s. By the millennium Nauru was virtually bankrupt.
In 2000, the G7 nations put pressure on the country to review its banking system, which is used by Russian criminals for money laundering.
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