The Tragic History of Nauru - From Rich to Poor

Maybe only a few of us have ever heard of the existence of the country, Nauru. It is one of the smallest countries in the world with an area of 12 square km. However, not many know the tragic history of its fall a long time ago.

Do you also know, that this small nation was once labeled as the richest country in the world based on GDP per capita?

The Center For Phosphate and Bauxite Mining

The population of Nauru as of now is around 9,600 people. The ocean and beautiful beaches made the country one of the hottest destinations to go to for a holiday one time ago. With lots of coral reefs around the island, it is definitely a paradise for those who love scuba diving.

In the 1980s, Nauru reach its peak when mining activities took place and starts taking over the traditional activities on this small island. Based on studies, around 2 out of 3 of the whole area of the island contain precious minerals to be dugout.

Some of the minerals that can be obtained here will be phosphate and bauxite which is a type of aluminum. But mining rampantly without any control will result in serious environmental pollution near the mining areas to the extent that some might call it planet Mars due to how red it is.

In Nauru, the high source of Bauxite has attracted many foreign companies to come in and do mining activities in that area. The picture below will be a Rolls Royce with the background of what used to be the place for phosphate mining that are featured in National Geographic in September 1976.

During the 1980s, Nauru was named by the Guinness Book of World Records as the richest country in the world (based on GDP per capita). In 1995, the New York Times newspaper has published an article stating that the people of Nauru are among the richest in the world due to phosphate mining which gave them millions of dollars each year.

Most of the phosphate being mined in Nauru will be sent for export to Australia. For your info, Australia possesses sovereignty over Nauru from 1947 until 1966.

Things did not last long since the overwhelming mining activities at the time makes Nauru the most polluted region on this earth. Most Nauru citizens have predicted that they will be forced to leave the island due to the uncontrolled mining activities which destroy the environment.

Because the island was not that big, after a few years, the minerals on this island starts depleting before the mining activities were put to a halt altogether. Due to this, many of the Nauru people who once enjoyed their wealth became poor again and were forced to seek help from the outside to survive.

Now, Nauru fully relies on Australia for its aid and in fact, the Australian government agrees to pay a sum of compensation for the damages done by the uncontrolled mining activities in Nauru long ago causing immense destruction of the flora and fauna.

Nauru As Of Now

As time went on, the mining activities in Nauru came back operational in 2005 even though it was not as lively as before. Research showed that Nauru still has a natural mineral reserve on the island that can last for another 30 years. Nauru has now become the location of refugees seeking asylum from the Australian government.
The people of Nauru are unlike before as most of them live in poverty. The rate of unemployment is very staggering up to 90%. The fall of the education system is almost similar to its economy. In fact, the majority of people suffer from serious health issues such as diabetes, obesity, heart problems, and also depression.

Not just that, the life expectancy of the Nauru people is also relatively low at around 60 years only. This situation relates closely to the impact of the mining activities long ago resulting in the pollution that ultimately affects the health of the people around.

Destruction and land erosion has also caused problems for the locals to do farming activities like before the mining activities even started. The impact is that most of them were forced to depend on processed foods compared to fresh produce like fruits and vegetables.


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