Nauru - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Phosphate mining is now the base of the economy, though copra was the first source of cash before 1906 when mining commenced. Phosphate royalties have been invested both by individuals and by the government against the time when mining ends. Nauruans' income is derived mainly from these royalties, but also from employment and pensions. About half of the Nauruan population is privately employed or works in the administrative arm of government, teaching, or NPC administration. All consumer goods are imported to Nauru, mainly from Australia.

Industrial Arts. Several Nauruans have opened repair shops for cars and electrical appliances, based on some training gained in Australia and local apprenticeship. The expertise for mining operations is still largely in the hands of non-Nauruans.

Trade. Phosphate took over from copra in 1906 as the main source of trade income, and since independence this has increased tenfold. The Nauru Cooperative Society, formed in 1923 as the major controller of imports of foods and general merchandise, has been superseded by the Nauru Corporation, which is controlled by the Nauru Local Government Council. In addition there are a number of small stores in town run by Chinese who employ young Kiribati and Tuvalu girls as shop assistants. Nauruans take trips to Australia or Fiji to make major purchases.

Division of Labor. Formerly men were in charge of fishing while women cared for the household and children and made handicrafts. Today women's and men's tasks are much less differentiated, with both sexes holding paid jobs or assisting with household maintenance. Some men still go fishing, but mainly as sport. Kiribati men fish from canoes and sell their produce on the island.

Land Tenure. Nauruans hold land by virtue of being born of Nauruan parents; non-Nauruans cannot hold land. Land is passed on in named parcels from a parent to all children, such inheritance being recorded with the Nauru Lands Board. Thus individual Nauruans hold rights in several parcels but some of these shares may be very small. Those rights are the basis on which compensation for mining is paid. In addition to land, Nauruans also own rights to fishing places, lagoons, useful trees, goods, songs, and dances.

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