NAURU: THE ONLY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD WITHOUT AN OFFICIAL CAPITAL
Nauru is smaller than any nation except Vatican City and Monaco.
We may think that every country has its capital city. But don't you know that there's a country that doesn't have a capital city at all. It's Nauru, the tiny Pacific Republic that we might not know too much about.
The world's smallest republic, Nauru, is smaller than any nation—except Vatican City and Monaco. Its population (9,400 or so) is the world's second-lowest after the Vatican. It's so obscure that its national flag is a map showing people how to find it: a gold horizontal line represents the Equator, with a white star right below it, where Nauru lies.
Some sources call "Yaren" the capital of Nauru, but that's not true. The island has no official capital city, and it doesn't have any cities at all. The Yaren District is just an area on the island's southern shore where most of its important buildings are located.
That's where you'll find Parliament House, the embassies of the only two nations that have an ambassador to Nauru (Taiwan and Australia), and the Nauru International Airport. Nauru is so small that its airport runway stretches almost across the island. Its official airline used to land its only jet there until 2005, when Australian creditors repossessed the plane.
How can they survive without a capital city?
Nauru is the least-visited country in the world. Less than 10,000 people live on the island virtually on the Equator in the Pacific. Under 10 % of them live in Yaren, the de facto capital, or the UN's main district.
Capitals country number two may come as more of a shock. Come to think of it, it isn't all that surprising after all. We are, after all, speaking of the country that defines neutrality more than any other, in part thanks to peacebuilding operations around the world and home to the more international organization than any other. The country didn't even join the UN until 2002 and is neither a member of the EU nor the European Economic Area.
Challenges for Nauru
At the time of Nauru's independence in 1968, the island was the richest country on earth mainly because of valuable deposits of phosphates formed through centuries of bird droppings. Unfortunately, the country's economy collapsed when bird droppings ran out.
Currently, Nauru's unemployment rate is estimated to be at 90%, and there is a high rate of obesity due to the consumption of unhealthy Western foods. Such foods became popular during the country's boom years.
Things in Nauru have become so bad that the country has imported prisoners to avoid going bankrupt completely.
The country has become the Southern Hemisphere's version of Guantanamo as it accepts large numbers of overseas asylum-seekers, especially those found in Australia, in exchange for foreign aid. Meneng District, which is located east of Yaren. That is where the detention center is located.
Meneng District also happens to be the site where the country's presidential residence was located. Unfortunately, it was razed down by an angry mob in 2001. The current trend in the growing number of detainees imported to Nauru poses a big threat. However, the big question remains if the prison in Nauru continues to grow faster than the rest of the country, will Meneng District become the country's capital? We can only wait to see what will happen.
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