Nauru Economy - 2021


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Economic overview

Revenues of this tiny island - a coral atoll with a land area of 21 square kilometers - traditionally have come from exports of phosphates. Few other resources exist, with most necessities being imported, mainly from Australia, its former occupier and later major source of support. Primary reserves of phosphates were exhausted and mining ceased in 2006, but mining of a deeper layer of "secondary phosphate" in the interior of the island began the following year. The secondary phosphate deposits may last another 30 years. Earnings from Nauru’s export of phosphate remains an important source of income. Few comprehensive statistics on the Nauru economy exist; estimates of Nauru's GDP vary widely.

The rehabilitation of mined land and the replacement of income from phosphates are serious long-term problems. In anticipation of the exhaustion of Nauru's phosphate deposits, substantial amounts of phosphate income were invested in trust funds to help cushion the transition and provide for Nauru's economic future.

Although revenue sources for government are limited, the opening of the Australian Regional Processing Center for asylum seekers since 2012 has sparked growth in the economy. Revenue derived from fishing licenses under the "vessel day scheme" has also boosted government income. Housing, hospitals, and other capital plant are deteriorating. The cost to Australia of keeping the Nauruan government and economy afloat continues to climb.

Real GDP growth rate

4% (2017 est.)

10.4% (2016 est.)

2.8% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 75

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

5.1% (2017 est.)

8.2% (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 183

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$145 million (2019 est.)

$145 million (2018 est.)

$137 million (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2015 dollars

country comparison to the world: 223

GDP (official exchange rate)

$114 million (2017 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$11,583 (2019 est.)

$11,471 (2018 est.)

$10,667 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

country comparison to the world: 137

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 6.1% (2009 est.)

industry: 33% (2009 est.)

services: 60.8% (2009 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 98% (2016 est.)

government consumption: 37.6% (2016 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 42.2% (2016 est.)

exports of goods and services: 11.2% (2016 est.)

imports of goods and services: -89.1% (2016 est.)

Agricultural products

coconuts, tropical fruit, vegetables, pork, eggs, pig offals, pig fat, poultry, papayas, cabbages


phosphate mining, offshore banking, coconut products

Industrial production growth rate


Labor force


Labor force - by occupation

note: most of the labor force is employed in phosphate mining, public administration, education, and transportation

Unemployment rate

23% (2011 est.)

90% (2004 est.)

country comparison to the world: 194

Population below poverty line


Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA

highest 10%: NA


revenues: 103 million (2017 est.)

expenditures: 113.4 million (2017 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

90.3% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 2

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-9.2% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 206

Public debt

62% of GDP (2017 est.)

65% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 71

Fiscal year

1 July - 30 June

Current account balance

$5 million (2017 est.)

$2 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 63


$125 million (2013 est.)

$110.3 million (2012 est.)

country comparison to the world: 197

Exports - partners

Thailand 34%, Australia 16%, United States 13%, South Korea 10%, Philippines 9%, Japan 7%, France 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

fish, calcium phosphates, low-voltage protection equipment, air conditioners, leather apparel (2019)


$64.9 million (2016 est.)

$143.1 million (2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 219

Imports - partners

Taiwan 52%, Australia 28% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, construction vehicles, tug boats, poultry meats, cars (2019)

Debt - external

$33.3 million (2004 est.)

country comparison to the world: 199

Exchange rates

Australian dollars (AUD) per US dollar -

1.311 (2017 est.)

1.3452 (2016 est.)

1.3452 (2015 est.)

1.3291 (2014 est.)

1.1094 (2013 est.)

NOTE: The information regarding Nauru on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Nauru 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Nauru 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.