The Economy Of The Country Nauru Is Based Almost Entirely On Exporting?
Answer: Bird Excrement
For the last century, the tiny island nation of Nauru has turned a rather healthy profit exporting bird excrement. Now, before you envision a country basing its entire economy on loading ships with the kind of bird excrement you’d find coating statues in Central Park, know that Nauru is in a unique position.
Since 1906, the 8.1 square mile island located in the Micronesia island chain in the South Pacific has been exporting bird excrement by the boatload in the form of phosphate pulled from nearly fossilized bird excrement left on the island for a thousand years by seafaring birds. Regions of the island used as cross-oceanic way-points for birds had tens of thousands of pounds of centuries old droppings that were extremely phosphate rich and had been continuously extracted.
Unfortunately for the citizens of Nauru they hit “peak excrement”, if you will, some time in the early 1980s and since then they’ve struggled to maintain solvency. Between a poorly maintained trust that lost a significant amount of the wealth they’d gained in the export business to a stint in setting themselves up as a tax haven for offshore bankers, the country has had one struggle after another in the face of their ever shrinking and essentially non-renewable resource.
Image courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy.