The Nauruan people are the only indigenous ethnic group on the island. They are of mixed Micronesian, Melanesian, and Polynesian origin and resemble the last strain most closely. Nauruans are traditionally divided into 12 clans or tribes in which descent is matrilineal, although kinship and inheritance rules have some patrilineal features. The 12 clans are Eamwit, Eamwidumwit, Deboe, Eoaru, Emea, Eano, Emangum, Ranibok, Eamwidara, Iruwa, Irutsi (extinct), and Iwi (extinct). Admixtures of Caucasian and Negroid lineage in the 19th century and frequent intermarriage with other Pacific islanders have changed the present-day features of Nauruans from those of their forebears.
The Caucasians on the island are almost all Australians and New Zealanders employed in administrative or teaching posts or in the phosphate industry. The Chinese and immigrants from Kiribati and Tuvalu originally came to the island as laborers in the phosphate industry, some being accompanied by their families. Filipino contract workers are also present but are not permitted to bring their families.
As of 2002, 58% of the population was Nauruan, 26% other Pacific Islander, 8% Chinese, and 8% European.