Almost nothing is known about Nauru's early
history. During the 19th century, the encounter with
Europeans led to many inhabitants dying of disease and
fighting. Germany annexed Nauru in 1888 and phosphate
began to be mined in the early 1900s. After the First
World War, the island was managed by Australia and
during the Second World War it was occupied by Japan.
The Naurus are long believed to have lived in
isolation from the outside world. When a British ship
discovered them in 1798, they were divided into twelve
clans, each with their chief. The British discoverers
called the island Pleasant Island.
Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Nauru, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
From the 1830s, whalers and other visitors began to
carry firearms, alcohol and European diseases to the
island. It had disastrous consequences for the Nauru.
Combined with a ten-year civil war, this led to the
population almost halving.
When the island was annexed by Germany, only 900
Naurus, mostly women, were left alive. With the Germans,
missionaries came to Nauru, and a contract was signed
with a British company to begin exploiting the island's
phosphate deposits beginning in 1906.
Australia conquered Nauru during the First World War
and, after the war, was commissioned by the United
Nations forerunner of the League of Nations to
administer the island together with the United Kingdom
and New Zealand. During World War II, Nauru was occupied
by Japan, and more than half of the island's population
was taken to another Pacific island for forced labor.
Nearly 500 of them died from hardships.