Nauru Independence Day is observed on 31 January.
This year marks the country’s 55th anniversary of independence.
Nauru is a small island country in Micronesia. The national flag is a symbol of the country’s identity and depicts its location below the equator represented by a golden horizontal line; the white colour signifies the nation’s prosperity from phosphate and each point represents one of its 12 indigenous tribes. The flag’s blue background represents the Pacific Ocean.
The origin of its first inhabitants remains unknown, however, by the time of European arrival in the early 18th century, the island was divided into 12 matrilineal kinship groups, each with a chief.
European contact with the island began in the 1830s when the whaling industry reached eastern Micronesia and Nauru became a port of call for vessels seeking food and water.
This was followed by a small number of European beachcombers who brought with them alcohol, firearms, and diseases, leading to interisland warfare among districts.
In 1888, Germany incorporated the island into its Marshall Islands protectorate.
The mining of Nauru’s phosphate deposits by the British Pacific Phosphate Company began later in 1907.
During World War I, an Australian force occupied Nauru and removed German nationals, leading to Nauru becoming a mandated territory within the League of Nations in 1920.
World War II saw Japanese forces arrive in 1942, and the following year 1,200 Nauruans were taken to Truk island (now Chuuk Lagoon) – an atoll in the central Pacific – as forced labourers. The Australian troops took back possession of Nauru in 1945.
The small island country became a UN trust territory in 1947, with Australia continuing to provide the administration. Nauru achieved self-government and political independence in the 1950s and 1960s, with Hammer DeRoburt dominating the political scene for the first two decades of the republic.
Nauru gained independence in 1967. However, 31 January 1968 – marking 22 years since Nauruans returned from Truk – was designated as the country’s official Independence Day, establishing the Republic of Nauru.