Nauru country brief

Overview

Nauru is an island republic in the Pacific Ocean, 42 kilometers south of the Equator and 4,000 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 13,000 people, most of whom are indigenous Nauruans predominantly of Micronesian origin. Non-Nauruans are principally other Pacific islanders, Chinese, Australian and Filipino expatriates, as well as other temporary residents (primarily asylum seekers and refugees).

Political overview

Nauru is one of the world's smallest independent states. Its constitution, adopted upon gaining independence 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 Members of Parliament (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 9 July 2016, Baron Waqa was re-appointed as 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 a regional processing centre 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. Up to 2,000 workers from Nauru, Kiribati and Tuvalu will have first access to the Pacific Labour Scheme when it commences in July 2018. The scheme will enable workers to take up low and semi-skilled work opportunities in rural and regional Australia for up to three years.

People-to-people links

Every year, a number of Australia Award and Australia Award Pacific Scholarships are offered for Nauruans to study abroad at selected Australian and Pacific regional universities.

Australia and Nauru also enjoy strong diaspora, alumni and professional linkages.

Development assistance

More information on our development assistance to Nauru.

Direct Aid Program

Australia's Direct Aid Program in Nauru 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 small island 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.

Royalties from the declining phosphate industry currently only offer a modest and intermittent revenue stream to Government. However, revenue associated with the presence of the regional 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 2016-17 totaled $46.9 million (principally meat, motor vehicles and civil engineering equipment and parts).

High level visits

December 2013: the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Julie Bishop MP, 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 the then Ambassador for Women and Girls, Natasha Stott Despoja AM.

April 2017: the Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells undertook an official visit to Nauru to formalise a new Aid Partnership arrangement and visit projects funded through the Australian aid program.

April 2017: the President of Nauru Baron Waqa undertook a state visit to Australia to meet Australian leaders and officials from the Asian Development Bank, as well as share in lessons learnt from Australia's infrastructure and sustainable energy facilities. The President visited Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra.

January 2018: The Governor-General of Australia (Peter Cosgrove) undertook an official visit to commemorate Nauru's 50th anniversary of independence. His program included a meeting with President Waqa, and attendance at the official flag-raising ceremony and other  functions, He also undertook a tour of the Republic of Nauru Hospital, which was redeveloped over 2015-2017 with funding from Australia.

Visitor information

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



Last Updated: 7 May 2018