What Languages Are Spoken In Nauru?

Nauruan, a language that is spoken by about 96% ethnic Nauruans, is the official language of Nauru.

The Island of Nauru is situated in the Central Pacific. The island country is composed of rich deposits of phosphate rocks which have allowed for frequent strip mining. Its nearest neighboring island, Banaba, is about 186 miles to the east. Nauru is the South Pacific’s smallest state and the third smallest country in the world by surface area. The first people to settle on the island were from Micronesia and Polynesia. It became a German Colony in the late 19th century but was later administered by Australia, New Zealand, and the UK before gaining its independence in 1968. According to the 2016 census, Nauru had a population of 9,591 people, with Nauruan forming the largest ethnic group in the country. Although English and Nauruan are the widely spoken languages in the country, there are other five minority languages that are spoken by at least 1,000 people.

Official Language Of Nauru


Nauruan is an Oceanic language spoken as a first language by over 6,000 people in Nauru. It is the country’s official language spoken by almost 96% of the country’s population, especially the ethnic Nauruan. Nauruan language is part of Austronesian languages spoken in Australian and Micronesian regions. Nauruan is also internationally recognized by the United Nation. It is a de facto working language but commonly used in day-to-day communication in most of the homes and markets across the island. There is significantly less dialectal variation in the language, with little influence by foreign languages such as Chinese. However, before the arrival of the Germans, the language had a great diversity of dialects. Today, the little difference in dialects is spoken in and around the Yaren District. Nauruan language is not common outside of the country; it is not well understood outside the island compared to other Micronesian languages. As such, most of the Nauruan speakers have adopted English as their second language.

English: A Widely Spoken Language In Nauru


Since Nauruan is not commonly understood outside the Nauru Island, the Nauruan people are quite fluent in English. English is widely understood by almost all the language groups in the country, despite being the mother tongue of only a few hundred people (2% of the population). There are about seven thousand second language English speakers in Nauru. English is the official language for government and commercial sector as well as the mainstream media. It is also taught in most schools as part of the curriculum. English is also widely spoken by the Asian migrants in the country. However, the merging of the Chinese language and the Nauruan English has resulted in the formation of the Nauruan Pidgin English spoken by some of the Nauruan population.

Minority Languages Spoken In Nauru

Apart from English and Nauruan languages, there are five minority languages spoken in the island country. The Pacific Islanders, the second largest ethnic group in Nauru accounting for 26% of the population, speak mainly the Kiribati and Tuvaluan languages. Marshallese and Kosraen, which are part of Micronesian languages, are spoken by less than 2% of the population. Chinese account for about 15% of the population of Nauru. About 8% of the population speaks Mandarin or Cantonese languages.

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