The island of Nauru, in the middle of nowhere in the Pacific Ocean, has gained notoriety in a number of disastrous ways. Last weekend, National Public Radio’s This American Life aired a piece from 2003 on the rise and fall of the island and its people. The November-December 2006 issue of Utne Reader also had an article by the same author, Jack Hitt, reprinted from the Sun, about Nauru as a kind of Faustian cautionary tale of environmental degradation and the false promises of the global economy.
Off-shore banking operations, funding many disreputable entrepreneurs, have besmirched the Nauru name among international creditors. The island has also served as a place for Australia to stash unwanted refugees, many fleeing violence in Iraq, causing depression on the island to skyrocket. And possibly most devastating of all, decades of phosphate mining have gutted Nauru of its natural beauty, leaving only a skeleton behind.
To read the Utne Reader article from the November-December 2006 issue, click here.
And to listen to the piece from This American Life, click here.