History of Nauru

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The history of Nauru has been intrinsically linked with the extraction of phosphate. Initially inhabited by Micronesian and Polynesian peoples, Nauru was annexed by Germany in the late 19th century, and extraction of the island's phosphate began in 1906. Following World War I it became a League of Nations mandate administered by Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The island was occupied by Japan during World War II, and after the war entered into trusteeship again. Nauru achieved independence in 1968.


Early history

Nauru was first settled by Micronesian and Polynesian peoples at least 3,000 years ago.[1] Nauruans subsisted on coconut and pandanus fruit, and engaged in aquaculture by catching juvenile ibija fish, acclimated them to freshwater conditions, and raised them in Buada Lagoon, providing an additional reliable source of food.[2] Traditionally only men were permitted to fish on the reef, and did so from canoes or by using trained Man-of-war Hawks.

There were traditionally 12 clans or tribes on Nauru, which are represented in the 12-pointed star in the nation's flag. Nauruans traced their descent on the female side. The first Europeans to encounter the island were on the British whaling ship Hunter, in 1798. When the ship approached, "many canoes ventured out to meet the ship. The Hunter's crew did not leave the ship nor did Nauruans board, but Captain John Fearn's positive impression of the island and its people" led to its English name, Pleasant Island.[3] This name was used until Germany annexed the island 90 years later.

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