In the early 1900s, as World War I broke out in Europe, Germany lost possession of Nauru.
The Australians took control of the island and its valuable
phosphate deposits in conjunction with the United Kingdom
and New Zealand. Like the time under the Germans, little
was changed in Nauru by their controlling outside power, since the focus of occupation
was exploitation of this natural resource.
With the outbreak of World War II Nauru was immediately attacked.
First the Germans, then the Japanese,
attacked Australian ships, the phosphate mines and oil
supplies. By mid-1942 the Japanese had taken the island and soon the local people
were victims of the war. From this point until 1945 the island was often attacked
by both sides as the Nauruans were regularly killed by gun fire or died from disease
as the lands were heavily polluted during this time.
The battles finally ended when Australia took control
of the island from the Japanese in late 1945. After the war
the Australians continued to protect the island, not granting Nauru
full independence until 1968.
With independence also came the phosphate supplies. The independent government of
Nauru bought rights to the phosphate mines from the
British, Australian, and New Zealand
owners, quickly making the country quite wealthy. However, the phosphate mines have
since run out (in 2006) and the environmental damages done by this mining in the
past led to lawsuits with Australia, who paid Nauru for damages. More importantly,
the mining has destroyed much of the country's land.
The loss of phosphate is seriously challenging the future of Nauru
as the entire economy was based on that single resource. The mining process also
destroyed much of the lands, meaning farming and other common methods to support
an economy are also questionable in the way of sustainability. As the people search
for a new economy they struggle to find one. Money laundering is rampant and there
was an incident with Afghan refugees who found their
way to Nauru, but claimed to be treated poorly. It appears the government is nearly
bankrupt and seeking a new future, although it cannot seem to find the right path.
In addition to these major political and economic struggles, Nauru
has all but lost its soul. The traditional ways of life in the way of farming and
fishing has been replaced by mining and shipping. However the mining and shipping
industries have ended and in the process destroyed the farmlands and hurt the fishing
industry as well. Today many people have lost both their jobs and their traditional
culture and lifestyle in exchange for the short-lived wealth that came with the