Nauru - Politics, government, and taxation

Nauru became an independent republic in 1968; it is the smallest republic in the world. Nauru is a member of the British Commonwealth and was admitted as a full member of the United Nations in 1999. Nauru generally follows the political system of Great Britain and has a unicameral (one chamber) Parliament with 18 members who hold office for 3 years. The Parliament elects the president, speaker, and deputy speaker. The cabinet, which consists of the president and 5 other members of Parliament, holds executive power. Members are elected as independents rather than from political parties. Nauru has had 8 changes of government since independence. Lately Nauru's government has become increasingly fractious, with a constant reshuffling of leaders and ministers.

The Nauruan government controls most aspects of the country's economy. The government owns most of the large businesses, including the Nauru Phosphate Corporation, the national airline, and the national bank. The government also controls the Nauru Phosphate Royalties Trust, which collects and invests phosphate royalties. The fund is currently estimated to have a value somewhere between $100 million and $800 million, but no details are publicly released. There are no taxes in Nauru, and government activity is financed entirely from phosphate revenues. The government is the largest employer and provides free health care and education to all citizens. As the Nauruan government is extremely secretive, it is difficult to obtain exact figures for many aspects of the country's economy.

Nauru has no military, but the Nauruan police are responsible for law and order and for national defense. Nauru generally has good relations with neighboring island countries. Nauru has had disputes with France because of French nuclear testing in the South Pacific in 1995, and the passage of French ships carrying plutonium and nuclear waste through Nauruan waters in 1992 and 1997.

The Asian Development Bank is the only provider of external financial assistance, in the form of loans, to Nauru. This aid is used to help reform the Nauruan government, to make it more open, to help diversify the economy away from phosphate mining, and to provide for health care, sanitation, and education.

In 1994, Nauru agreed to an out-of-court settlement in a lawsuit it had brought against Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain. The basis of the lawsuit was to seek compensation for environmental damage to the country during the pre-independence period when phosphate mining was controlled by these countries. Australia agreed to pay Nauru US$73 million as part of the settlement. Great Britain and New Zealand reimbursed Australia for a small portion of this payment.

Country Telephones a Telephones, Mobile/Cellular a Radio Stations a Radios a TV Stations a Televisions a Internet Service Providers c Internet Users c
Nauru 2,000 (1996) 450 (1994) AM 1; FM 0; shortwave 0 7,000 1 500 1 N/A
United States 194 M 69.209 M (1998) AM 4,762; FM 5,542; shortwave 18 575 M 1,500 219 M 7,800 148 M
Philippines 1.9 M 1.959 M (1998) AM 366; FM 290; shortwave 3 (1999) 11.5 M 31 3.7 M 33 500,000
Solomon Islands 8,000 658 AM 3; FM 0; shortwave 0 57,000 0 3,000 1 3,000
a Data is for 1997 unless otherwise noted.
b Data is for 1998 unless otherwise noted.
c Data is for 2000 unless otherwise noted.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [Online].
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