Nauru country brief


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. The Australian Government upgraded its mission in Nauru from Consulate-General to High Commission in August 2009. In 2015 Australia and Nauru agreed a new Aid Investment Strategy outlining our mutual priorities and joint commitments for Australia’s development assistance through to 2018-19.

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 Programme. Under the Programme, seasonal horticultural workers from Pacific countries are recruited by enterprises in Australia to undertake seasonal work.

People-to-people links

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

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 with scholarship graduates taking on roles in the government in areas such as nursing, law and justice, business management and accounting.

Development assistance

More information on our development assistance to Nauru.

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 near full employment.

Trade and investment

Australian merchandise exports to Nauru in 2012-13 totaled $60.5 million (principally pre-fabricated 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.

Last Updated: 4 July 2016