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History of Nauru

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Early history

The first Nauruans were Polynesian and Melanesian explorers. In 1798 John Fearn[?], a British captain of the whaling ship 'Hunter', became the first European to land on the island, naming it Pleasant Island.

Nauru had little contact with the outside world until whaling ships and other traders began to visit in the 1830s.

European Control

In the nineteenth century the first Europeans came to Nauru. Many Nauruans blame the Europeans for breaking up the social structure of the island with its traditional 12 tribes. A ten-year internal war reduced the population from 1400 to 900.

The 1886 Anglo-German Convention[?] led to the annexation of Nauru by Germany in 1888. In the early nineteenth cetury, the massive phosphate resources on the island were discovered. Beginning in 1906, the Pacific Phosphate Company started exploitation of the rock.

In 1914 Australia took control of Nauru. Then Britain held control until 1920, when the League of Nations gave Britain, Australia and New Zealand a Trustee Mandate over the territory. The British Phosphate Commissioners (BPC) were given the rights to phosphate mining.

Japanese Occupation

In 1942 the Japanese occupied Nauru. The native Nauruans were badly treated by the occupying forces. One one occasion 49 leprosy sufferers were reputedly loaded on to boats which were towed out to sea and sunk. In 1943 some 1200 Nauruans were taken by Truk (now Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia) as slave labourers.

On January 1, 1946 with Micronesia now under American control, the 800-odd Nauruans still surviving were returned to Nauru on a BPC ship 'Trienza'.

Post-war, Nauru became a UN Trust Territory administrated by Australia. Independence On January 31, 1968 Nauru became an the world's smallest independent republic. Phosphate rights were acquired from Britain in 1970. Money gained from the exploitation of phosphate gave Nauruans one of the highest living standards in the Pacific.

Modern-day Nauru By the close of the twentieth century, the phosphate supplies were fast running out. Nauru finally joined the UN in 1999.

In 2001, Nauru was brought to world attention by the saga of the MS Tampa, a Norwegian cargo ship at the centre of a diplomatic dispute between Australia, Norway and Indonesia. The ship carried asylum seekers who were rescued while attempting to reach Australia. After much debate many of the immigrants were transported to Nauru.

See also : Nauru

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