The Pacific: Utopia in Mid-Ocean

THE PACIFIC

Next Jan. 31, if all goes according to schedule, a tiny, null palm-fringed speck in the Pacific, some 1,700 miles northeast of Australia, will become the world's newest nation. The Republic of Nauru, administered by Australia as a U.N. trust territory since 1947, will have a native population of 3,000, smallest of any nation state. But what Nauruans lack in numbers they make up with money. They have per capita income of about $4,000, compared with $3,648 for the U.S.

Fully two-thirds of Nauru contains deep deposits of phosphates that are used for fertilizers. These are being dug up and...

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