Nauru is the world’s smallest republic, with an area of just 8.1 square miles. It’s an island country in the Pacific, sort of north of New Zealand, a bit over to the west, and east of East Timor.
Nauru’s quite a long way from most places and it wasn’t until 1798 that a European turned up. In this case it was a Brit, the sea captain and whaler John Fearn. He called the island Pleasant Island, so unless he had a strange sense of humour, we can assume he liked it.
In 1888, it was the Germans who (as already noted) having started late were in a hurry to catch up with the empire-building of their European competitors and added it to their empire.
Phosphate reserves were discovered on the island in 1900 and those huge phosphate resources have played an enormous role in Nauru’s history.
The First World War came to Nauru on 9 September 1914, when a radio station was destroyed by the warship HMAS Melbourne. The island wasn’t immediately occupied, but British phosphate miners here wanted the Germans out and on 6 November 1914, Australian troops took control of the island. At the end of the First World War, with Nauru’s financial worth estimated as several hundred million pounds, Britain, Australia and New Zealand vied for control. Eventually, control of the phosphate mining and the island was split between the three.
Even Nauru, despite being a very, very long way from Germany, didn’t escape unscathed from Hitler’s forces during the Second World War. In December 1940, the German auxiliary cruiser Komet shelled mining areas and oil depots. Then on 26 August 1942, it was the turn of the Japanese to arrive on Nauru. They surrendered to the Australians on 13 September 1945 and Nauru was made a UN trusteeship again under Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
Nauru became independent in 1968.