Nauru - Poverty and wealth

Nauru's phosphate wealth has made it one of the richest countries in the Pacific and, on a per capita basis, one of the richest countries in the world. Revenues from phosphate mining provide an extensive system of social support for Nauruan citizens. Nauru is a true welfare state , and everything is provided by the Nauru government, including free health care and education. Many Nauruans also receive various kinds of payments from the government, including a share of mining royalties, compensation for damage to land, and unemployment insurance. This has led to complete dependence on government. Nauruans have been described as living a life of "luxury and leisure."

Residents' luxurious lifestyles have come with a high price, however. The change in the local diet, which is now rich in high-fat imported foods, has given Nauru one of the highest rates of diabetes in the world. Nauru also has

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
Nauru N/A N/A N/A N/A 5,000
United States 28,600 30,200 31,500 33,900 36,200
Philippines 2,600 3,200 3,500 3,600 3,800
Solomon Islands 3,600 3,000 2,600 2,650 2,000
Note: Data are estimates.
SOURCE: Handbook of the Nations , 17th,18th, 19th and 20th editions for 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999 data; CIA World Factbook 2001 [Online] for 2000 data.

high rates of unemployment and alcoholism, among other health and social problems. Unemployment has not become a major concern, however, as the government, as well as family members, provide support for non-workers. According to the Asian Development Bank, there is no evidence of absolute poverty in Nauru. The entire population has access to safe drinking water, and 97 percent have access to good sanitation.

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