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The tiny oceanic island of Nauru was geologically endowed with unusually high phosphate deposits, a resource that would prove to be the island's ecological ruin. Starting in the early 20th century with the intervention of a German-British consortium, and onward for nearly 100 years, phosphates were regularly mined and aggressively removed. The result of a century of exploitation has been the virtual destruction of the island and its native ecosystem.

Nauru achieved independence in 1968, making it the smallest independent republic in the world; the island is only eight square miles (21 square kilometers). Nauru joined the United Nations (UN) in 1999. The climate is tropical with a monsoonal pattern. Periodic draughts pose significant threats to the island's ecosystems and accelerate the need for freshwater. The ...

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