For most of the 20th century, this tiny island nation has been plundered of its unlikely treasure—phosphate. Mined for use in fertilizer, the phosphate enriched the island in one way—Nauru has one of the highest per capita incomes of in the Pacific—but left it impoverished in others. It is now an ecological disaster area and about the least scenic place in the South Pacific. The interior of the island is a mined-out wasteland, with bizarre pinnacles of coral poking up from vast pits. And with the phosphate reserves about to run out, the islanders face an uncertain future.

In short, we don't recommend Nauru to anyone, except maybe those with a highly specialized interest in mining, a fascination with human folly or a desire to visit every independent nation in the world.

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