How The World's Wealthiest Country Lost Everything

In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, there’s a tiny island there’s a tiny nation called Nauru.

Not too long ago, it was considered the single richest country in the world per capita. But today, it’s one of the world’s poorest nation’s that is probably best known to house a detention center, that’s teaming with human right’s violations. So, how did the nation go from riches to rags so drastically?

Because of its remote location in the ocean, seagulls would pit stop to the island and do what seagulls do best. This created years’ worth of calcified feces, which, in turn, created tons of phosphates, which are incredibly valuable in soil. So, when it gained its independence in 1968, it jumped head first into mining and selling its phosphate-rich soil. At one point the island was worth an estimated $2.5 billion.

Unfortunately, Nauru didn’t do a very good job of planning for the future one all the phosphate-rich soil ran out. The soil became barren and overused so the country got used to importing all their food. This diet of foods high in preservatives caused it to become the most obese nation in the world. Russia also took advantage of them as an unregulated financial pathway and started laundering money there, which fed into the corrupt government and drained its resources. So between 1975 and 2017, the country went from being the richest nation, to one of the poorest.