Nauru is the world’s smallest republic, covering just 21 square kilometres (8.1 sq mi). With 9,378 residents, it is the second least-populated country after Vatican City.
People live on the coastal edge, on a thin fringe of land protected by a reef which extends a couple of hundred metres off the coast and then plunges to deep, deep water.
During the good years of the 1980s and 90s, Nauru was so phosphate-wealthy that a family of five was said to be living off $100,000 a year, all of it distributed from phosphate royalties. After achieving independence in 1968, and taking control of the phosphate money for themselves, the people of the world’s tiniest – and richest - republic lived like kings.