Nauru

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Languages
  • Nauru
  • English
States
  • Aiwo District
  • Anabar District
  • Anetan District
  • Anibare District
  • Baiti District
  • Boe District
  • Buada District
  • Denigomodu District
  • Ewa District
  • Ijuw District
  • Meneng District
  • Nibok District
  • Uaboe District
  • Yaren

Wiki Voyage Travel Information

Nauru is a small island in the South Pacific Ocean south of the Marshall Islands and is the world's third-smallest country - only Monaco and the Vatican City are smaller. An off-the-beaten-track destination if there ever was one, Nauru is also the least visited country in the world. The remoteness and the fact that much of the island is a charmless open phosphate mine are two strong reasons for this.

Understand

History

In the local language the island is known as Naoero, though the name is of unknown origin. Nauru is a simplification of the name by British colonisers. The island has also been known by the names Pleasant Island, Nawodo, and Onawero.

Nauru was first settled around 3,000 years ago by twelve Micronesian and Polynesian peoples. Those twelve tribes divided the island into twelve parts; today this is symbolized by the twelve-pointed star in Nauru's national flag (the yellow line represents the Equator and the blue space the Pacific Ocean). The original inhabitants lived on fishing and even turned the lagoon in the middle of the island into a fish farm.

The first European to set foot on the island was the British commander John Fearn in 1798. The natives had a good relationship with the European ships whom they traded with. Occasionally, deserting sailors settled on Nauru. The island was devastated by a civil war between 1878 and 1888, after which it was annexed by the Germans. During the three-decade period as part of the German Pacific Territory, a king was appointed to rule the island, and the first missionaries arrived.

Mining of Nauru's phosphate deposits, which occupied about 90% of the island, began in the early 20th century under a German-British consortium. During World War I, the island was occupied by Australian forces and became a dependent territory. Briefly occupied by Japan during the Pacific War , Nauru was recovered by Australia afterwards and achieved independence in 1968. In the 1980s, phosphate exports briefly gave Nauruans one of the highest per capita incomes in the Third World. As of 2008, most of Nauru's revenue came from the export of phosphate to Australia, South Korea and New Zealand as well as other countries. The industry is controlled by the Nauru Phosphate Corporation (NPC). It is anticipated that the phosphate reserves will be completely exhausted before 2050. The sale of fishing licences is the other major revenue earner. Another source of revenue has been Taiwanese Dollar diplomacy; The Republic of China (Taiwan) used to be quite active in convincing small sovereign states of recognizing their claim to be the "One China" instead of the People's Republic of China's claim, but this has also diminished since the 2000s. Another major donor of foreign aid is Australia, which uses Nauru as a detention center for asylum seekers. Despite this, the unemployment rate is currently 90%.

Nauru is currently used as an "Off Shore Processing Center" for Asylum seekers, who are detained on the island until their refugee status is determined and they are either deported or allowed into Australia. Nauru receives badly needed economic aid for this, but human rights groups and other activists have frequently accused Australia of treating people in the detention centers horribly and the so called "Pacific solution" isn't uncontroversial in Australia, either. The OPC was closed in early 2008, but was reopened in 2012.

Other than these, also tourism could in the future be an additional source of income for the Nauruans. However, this would require better tourism infrastructure and transportation links.

Climate

A small, flat island almost exactly on the Equator, Nauru is a textbook example of tropical climate. The temperature is constant around the year, with even the record lows and highs per month staying within a couple of degrees. The number of average rainy days varies from 16 in January to nine in May and June.

Nauru is best avoided during the rainy season, which is from November to February. Even though full-fledged cyclones are rare at Nauru's latitude, the sky is constantly cloudy and torrential rains and thunderstorms are frequent during this time of the year.

Terrain

There are a few "sandy" beaches, but most of the shallow area around the island is coral reefs. Most of the interior of the island is worked-out mining land, which has yet to be rehabilitated. The only inland body of water is the lagoon.

Get in

The Australian offshore detention centre operating on the island means that there will be a lot of Australian government staff staying at the island's two small hotels and filling seats on the flights to and from Nauru (especially the direct flight to and from Brisbane ). This, in combination with the visa requirement, means that you probably should plan and book your trip a few months ahead.

Entry requirements

All foreign visitors require a valid passport and proof of hotel booking or local sponsor in order to enter Nauru. A free visa on arrival is available to citizens of the Cook Islands , Fiji , Israel , Kiribati , Marshall Islands , Micronesia , Niue , Palau , Papua New Guinea , Russia , Samoa , Solomon Islands , Taiwan , Tonga , Tuvalu and Vanuatu . Citizens of other countries require an advance visa.

You can apply for a visa from:

Alternatively you can send an e-mail to principal.immigration@naurugov.nr or visa@naurugov.nr. It may take a long time for the visa application to be processed, so you should send your application well ahead of your intended trip. A tourist visa reportedly costs AUD 100. If you are a journalist and intend to work on Nauru you will need a journalist visa, costing AUD 200, although if you are going to report about the Australian detention centre on the island you might need to fork out AUD 8000, due to a 2014 decision by the Nauruan government. Applications for journalist visas should be directed to: Joanna Olsson, Director of Government Information Office: joanna.olsson@naurugov.nr.

You will be sent a card that you need to fill in and return together with a copy of your passport. The visa fee is paid upon arrival in Nauru. At this time you will have to hand in your passport to the officials to be registered. The passport will be returned to you the next day.

If you're transiting through the American territories (e.g. Guam ) on your journey to Nauru, you might need a transit visa or an ESTA, depending on your nationality .

Customs regulations

Passengers may bring in to Nauru:

  • 400 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 450g of tobacco
  • three bottles of spirits
  • a small quantity of perfumes for personal use
  • a small quantity of audiovisual products

Drugs, explosives, weapons and pornography may not be imported.

By plane

As of March 2016, the national carrier, Nauru Airlines (formerly known as Our Airline and Air Nauru), flies to Nauru from Brisbane , Nadi and Honiara . Flights are rather irregular, with each destination being served one to three times a week.

The is located in the Yaren district in the southwest of the island and is where virtually everyone arrives to and departs from Nauru.

The hotel may or may not send a car to pick you up at the airport; in the worst case you'll have to walk.

By boat

Neither of the two ports in Aiwo and Anibare can accommodate passenger traffic or yachts; they are used for export of phosphate or by local fishermen. As the water is shallow near the coast, larger ships must anchor off shore.

Get around

Every year, there are on average 200 tourists in Nauru, so it has the honour of being the least touristed country in the world. Crowds aren't a problem at all. There's hardly any public transportation, so your best bet to get around would be in a rented vehicle; car, scooter or bike. Other alternatives are by foot (not very pleasant in the tropical heat and humidity) or hitchhiking, which is quite common on the island.

By public transport

There is a community bus which travels around the island every hour or so during the day. Also, locals sometimes cling to the cars of the goods train between Aiwo and the inland mining area.

By car

Nauru is so small that it takes less than one hour to drive right around it. The 19km Island Ring Road circles the island and is paved - however this is not the case for most of the inland roads. The airport runway cuts across three of the twenty kilometres of road. The only traffic lights on the island are used to stop the traffic and allow the plane to cross the road to the terminal! This is a favourite souvenir snapshot taken by visitors.

Traffic drives on the left and drivers should be on increased lookout for animals and pedestrians while driving on the beltway.

Cars or bicycles can sometimes be rented from Capelle and Partners, the largest local supermarket. Otherwise you can ask at your hotel or just ask a local. Foreigners need an international driver's licence to drive on Nauru. Also, be aware that fuel shortages are not unheard of!

Talk

The official languages are Nauruan, a distinct Pacific Island language, as well as English. However, just about half of the island's population is fluent in Nauruan, and English is widely understood, spoken, and used for most government and commercial purposes.

See

The Nauru experience is pretty much the exact opposite of all the typical South Pacific island clichés. If you're looking for sandy beaches, cool ocean breezes, and pristine blue waters, you'll find precious little of the sort. In fact, if you're looking for pretty much anything that can be described as flashy or tourist-oriented, you're out of luck. But don't write Nauru off just yet: its subtle and offbeat charms are waiting for anyone who's willing to take the time to seek them out - and that goes double for WWII history buffs, urbexers, and anyone who's just looking for a slow-paced, low-key, off-the-beaten-path getaway.

Japanese relic from World War II on Command Ridge.

Karst landscape with limestone stalagmites in the island's interior

Do

On land

Nauru is one of the few countries in the world you can walk around the whole perimeters of in a reasonable time. A sealed road goes all the way around the island and driving takes about 25 minutes non-stop. A bicycle ride takes 2-3 hours, and a walk maybe 6 hours. There is lots of nice scenery if not much to do and, going from either hotel, Chappelle & Partner department store right at the top of the island in Ewa district makes for a welcome break at halfway around.

If you're into sports, you can watch the local teams battle it out at an Australian rules football match. The national game is played all through Saturday at the sports field.

In the sea

Many beaches on Nauru are shallow and rocky and not very suitable for swimming. Your best bet would be Anibare Bay (listed in See above) which also is a great place for seeing the fishermen bringing in the day's catch to Anibare Harbour. If you want to try some fishing yourself, there's one company you can consult:

Events

These are the most important festivities during the year:

  • Independence Day (31 Jan)
  • Easter (late March or early April)
  • Constitution Day (17 May)
  • Angam, the Day of the Return Home (26 Oct)
  • Christmas (25 Dec)

Buy

Money

Nauru uses the Australian dollar, denoted by the symbol "$" (ISO code: AUD) as its national currency. Cash transactions are the norm; credit cards are rarely accepted. There are no exchange offices in Nauru and the single bank office, Bank of Nauru is usually closed. However in April 2015 the island's first ATM was opened at the Capelle & Partner. You should probably still bring enough Australian dollars in cash for your stay.

Bargaining or tipping are not done on Nauru.

Eat

Most food is imported from Australia and arrives by ship or air, usually once every six to eight weeks. You can find western and Asian (primarily Chinese) food. Because of the tropical climate dishes might not be as heavy and hearty as the original versions. As not all ingredients may be available, dishes are often rather simple.

Since Nauru is an island nation, seafood is very popular in its restaurants. Cooked and smoked hams are also very popular, as meat is one of their main dishes.

Budget

In addition to these, you'll also find some small inexpensive "eating places", selling Chinese food.

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

Other than that, restaurants and shops offer soft drinks and some also have alcoholic beverages.

Sleep

There are two hotels, the more expensive Menen on the east of the island and the budget Od'n Aiwo to the west. In addition to these, the supermarket has guest rooms in the north of the island.

Stay safe

Nauru is a peaceful island and all kinds of crime are very rare. In emergency situations you can call either emergency number (117 or 118) or go to the police station which is near the airport.

While earthquakes are not a risk on Nauru itself, it can potentially be struck by tsunamis resulting from earthquakes along the Ring of Fire, which surrounds the Pacific Ocean.

There are no records of a cyclone ever hitting Nauru, and right at the Equator they are rare. Nevertheless, if you visit during height of the wet season, be prepared for heavy rain and thunderstorms.

Swimming and surfing

Like many other Pacific islands, Nauru is surrounded by a shallow reef with cut-outs through the reef providing access for boats and harbours, and there can be strong currents across the shallow water, moving boats in the harbours, and dangerous marine animals on the reef floor. Ask for advice before venturing into the water.

Stay healthy

Water supply in Nauru is dependent on rainwater collected into tanks from the roofs of houses and from an aging reverse osmosis desalination plant. You should avoid tap water.

  • Emergency: 118 or 117
  • Nauru General Hospital: 674- 555-4302

Considering its size and remoteness, Nauru has a decent healthcare system. Aside from the rampant problem of obesity among the population, the infant mortality and life expectation numbers are on par with industrialised nations. There are two hospitals on the island, Nauru General Hospital and RON Hospital, both located in the Denigomodu district in the west of the island. However, if you have contracted anything more serious you may need to get transferred to Australia . Needless to say, it's best to have a good travel insurance when visiting Nauru!

The tropical diseases usually encountered in equatorial countries are less of a risk in Nauru, although it's recommended to get a hepatitis B shot. There is a risk of dengue fever , though, so you should protect yourself from mosquito bites.

If you come from a country where yellow fever is endemic or you've visited such a country in the last six days, you need to have proof of yellow fever vaccination.

Respect

Nauru is a Christian country, and Christian values and rules of conduct apply.

  • It is illegal to import pornographic material, and the government also blocks access to Internet porn.
  • Male LGBT travellers should be aware that male homosexual acts are illegal in Nauru, punishable with 3-14 years in jail (though the law is not always enforced). Open displays of affection between same-sex partners may offend some in Nauru.
  • The trafficking of drugs and narcotics of any kind will be punished severely.
  • There is one place on the island that you may not take photos of - the Australian "processing centre for illegal immigrants".

Cope

There are three newspapers in both Nauruan and English; Nasero Bulletin, Central Star News and Nauru Chronicle. Foreign newspapers are non-existent and information from the rest of the world comes from the Internet and satellite television and radio - in fact there's no local broadcasting.

The mains voltage is 240V/50Hz, and the plugs are Australian style. Brownouts are quite frequent.

Connect

Mail

There are a couple of post offices on the island from where you can send mail.

Embassies

There are only two embassies on Nauru; the closest embassies of most other countries are in either Australia or New Zealand .

Telephony

There are public phones and a mobile phone network. Be aware that you may need to buy a SIM card from the local operator Digicel if your home operator doesn't have a roaming contract with Nauru.

Internet

CenpacNet inc. is the only Internet provider, and it also owns the national domain .nr. Moreover it operates the only Internet café on Nauru:

Other than that, hotels offer computers to get online, though you should inform yourself about the rates beforehand!

Go next

Virtually everyone comes and goes by the local airline and thus your next destination will be Australia or one of the few small Oceanian islands the local airline flies to. When leaving Nauru, be aware that locally produced goods may be subjected to export duties.

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