Nauru was visited in 1798 by the British and annexed in 1888 by Germany. Occupied during World War I by Australian forces, it was placed (1920) under a League of Nations mandate to Australia. Throughout World War II the island was occupied by the Japanese. Nauru was administered by Australia, Britain, and New Zealand under a UN trusteeship until 1968, when it became one of the world's smallest independent states. In 1993, Australia agreed to pay Nauru about $75 million for environmental damage caused by mining before independence. The country also has received aid from Australia in exchange for its acceptance (2001–6, 2007–8) of Afghan, Iraqi, and other Asian refugees that Australia refused to admit.
Bernard Dowiyogo, who became president for a seventh time in Jan., 2003, died in Mar., 2003. Ludwig Scotty was elected president in May but was ousted in a no-confidence vote in August. René Harris, a former president, replaced Scotty, but Scotty returned to office in June, 2004, after Harris was similarly ousted. In elections in October, called after the parliament failed to pass a reform budget, Scotty's supporters secured a majority and he was reelected. Scotty remained in office after elections in Aug., 2007, but was replaced by Marcus Stephen after a no-confidence vote the following December. Parliament was split, however, between Stephen's supporters and opponents, and after several months of deadlock, Stephen declared a state of emergency and called a new election, which resulted in a majority for his government.
By 2010, the parliament was again divided between his supporters and opponents, and a snap election in April returned all members to office, continuing the deadlock. A new election in June led to the loss of an opposition seat, but the deadlock continued and Stephen again assumed emergency powers. The deadlock was finally resolved in November, and Stephen was reelected president. A year later, allegations of corruption led to his resignation. Frederick Pitcher was elected to succeed him, but he lost a confidence vote within days and was replaced by Sprent Dabwido. Dabwido's cabinet was roiled by resignations and a dismissal in Feb., 2013, and parliament was ultimately dissolved. After new elections in June, Baron Waqa was elected president.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.