Nauru, an island country in the Pacific Ocean between New Guinea and the Gilbert Islands, about 30 miles (48 km) south of the Equator. The island is oval and has an area of 8 square miles (21 km 2 ).
Nauru's economy is based almost entirely on exporting phosphate rock mined from the island's large deposits. Slightly more than half of the people on Nauru are native Nauruans; most of the remainder are other Pacific islanders and Chinese. The Nauruans are thought to be a mixture of Polynesian, Micronesian, and Melanesian ancestry. Nauru is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Nauru was colonized by the British in 1798 and was held by Germany from 1888 to 1914, when it was seized by Australia. It then came under joint administration of Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, first as a League of Nations Mandate and later as a United Nations trust territory. It became independent in 1968. Its phosphate deposits, which historically provided Nauru's only foreign exchange, had become largely depleted by the late 1990's.
Nauru is a republic with a president as the head of state. The president is elected to a three-year term by the country's 18-member Parliament, which makes all the country's laws. The president chooses a Cabinet to help run the government. Members of Parliament are elected by the people to serve three-year terms.