Most people think that every country has a capital city, but that is not always the case. Some countries such as Bolivia has two since the country’s Supreme Court meets in Sucre while its parliament meets in La Paz. Other countries like South Africa have three where the three branches of government are located in Cape Town, Pretoria, and Bloemfontein. On the other hand, there are smaller countries such as Singapore, Vatican City, and Monaco where the nation itself is the capital city. However, the big question is, how does a nation get by without a capital city at all? A good example of a country with no capital city is Nauru.
Where Is Nauru?
Nauru is an island located in the Pacific Ocean, and it is the world’s second-smallest republic. Nauru does not have any official capital city, but government offices are located in the Yaren District. The country covers an area smaller than all the world’s nations except for Monaco and the Vatican City. With an estimated population of 9,400, Nauru is the second smallest country in the world by population after the Vatican City. The country is so obscure such that its national flag is a map showing people how to find the place. The flag features a horizontal line representing the Equator with a white star right beneath it indicating where Nauru lies.
No Official Capital City
Yaren is often assumed to be the capital city of Nauru, but that is not the case. Nauru is a beautiful but tiny country, and has no official capital city, and even has no cities at all. Yaren District, which is located on the southern shore of the island, happens to be where most of the country’s prominent buildings are located, including Nauru’s Parliament House, the Nauru International Airport, and the Australia and Taiwan embassies (they are the only countries that have an ambassador to the country). Nauru is so tiny such that the airport's runway almost stretches across the entire Island. The country’s official airline used to land its only jet there until 2005 when Australian creditors acquired it.
Challenges Facing 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. At present, 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 turned to importing 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, is the location where the detention center is situated. 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 Meneg District become the country’s capital? We can only wait to see what will happen.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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