Nauru is a tiny island of 21 square kilometres situated 40 kilometres south of the equator in the Pacific Ocean. It is 4,000 kilometres north-east of Sydney and 300 kilometres west of Kiribati. The island’s fertile coastal strip rings the central plateau of rugged coral. At 65 metres, the highest point is surrounded by a coral reef that is exposed at low tide.
Nauru is one of the three great phosphate rock islands in the Pacific Ocean – the others are Banaba in Kiribati and Makatea in French Polynesia.
The climate is tropical, with sea breezes. North-east trade winds blow from March to October. Daytime temperatures range from 24 °C to 34 °C; average humidity is 80%. Rainfall is erratic but often heavy; the average annual rainfall is 2,060 millimetres. The monsoon season is from November to February but Nauru suffers from periodic droughts.
Nauru has a limited supply of natural fresh water and therefore vegetation is limited. Coconut palms and pandanus trees grow on the coastal strip and bananas and vegetables are grown in the Buada Lagoon area.
Nauruan reed warblers and great frigatebirds are still common but the black tern is rare because of habitat destruction. Marlin, sailfish and marine turtles are found in the surrounding sea.
Intensive phosphate mining over the past ninety years has left 90% of central Nauru a wasteland. If global warming causes sea levels to rise, the habitable low-lying land areas will be at risk from tidal surges and flooding.
There are approximately 10,000 people living on Nauru, mainly around the coastal green fringe and Buada Lagoon. The Nauruan Government offices are in Yaren District.