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61616.  Thu Mar 23, 2006 11:07 am Reply with quote

One of Mat's but he can't post it because his mum has just turned up for tea:

What is the capital of Nauru?

I guess we could do better on the question, but Nauru is the only independent country in the world which doesn't have an official capital. The largest settlement is called Yaren.


Nauru lived high on the hog for a number of years by selling its accumulated birdshit reserves as phosphate fertilizer. But this eventually ran out and they found themselves economically scuppered.

So they opened their doors to money launderers ('offshore bankers', they called them) for a couple of years, but now they've all gone as well.

The only income they had after that was the rent on an office building in Melbourne, which they've now had to sell to pay off debts.

Their President is called Scotty.

They are the smallest country outside of Europe, and the smallest republic anywhere (12 miles in circumference and 8 sq miles in area).

Their top visitor attraction according to Lonely Planet is the Nauru Phosphate Corporation Museum, but "The only drawback is that the museum is not normally open: contact the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the key."

Everything has to be imported, including water until they got the desalination plant going.

They're suing the USA for billions of $$ in foreign aid that were allegedly promised in return for setting up a bogus embassy in China through which the Americans could smuggle defecting North Korean scientists ('Operation Weasel'). Apparently the case is going quite well so far.

In 2001 the MV Tampa, a ship on its way to Australia, rescued 460 refugees from a sinking ship and was then denied admission to an Australian port for its pains, because if the refugees' first landfall was Australia they'd be stuck with them under international law. So they all had to go to Nauru. Two of them, Iraqis, are still there. Spotting yet another opportunity, Nauru has now set itself up in business as a detention centre for refugees. You have to hand it to them.

61617.  Thu Mar 23, 2006 11:11 am Reply with quote

Well I always thought it was Yaren. But how many people are as sad as me to learn all the world's capitals?

61654.  Thu Mar 23, 2006 3:32 pm Reply with quote

Egg, as a renowned world expert on capital cities, have you ever heard of anywhere else that hasn’t got one? I can’t find any on google, but am concerned that the phrase “The only independent country in the world which doesn't have an official capital” has got “Retractions Special” writ all over it.

Incidentally, you’re more or less right - Yaren is the seat of government, it just isn’t officially the capital.

(Thanks for posting, Flash; gave me time for the crucial wash-behind-the-ears.)

61744.  Fri Mar 24, 2006 10:47 am Reply with quote

No, I have never heard of a country without a capital city, but then I would have been tricked by Nauru. If truth be told, my capital city skills rely much more on learning lists than any great geography knowledge.

61763.  Fri Mar 24, 2006 12:01 pm Reply with quote

The only other one that I'm aware of is the Palestinian State.

To make up for it, however, there are apparently 12 countries with more than one capital city:

64302.  Fri Apr 07, 2006 2:38 pm Reply with quote

This just in from Camilla:

John asked us to find out whether there are any dry-cleaners based in Nauru and whether it's true the president of Nauru has his trousers flown to Melbourne to have them dry-cleaned;

The Consulate-General of the Republic of Nauru have said there is in fact a 'cleaning' service in Nauru and the President does not fly his clothes to Melbourne for dry-cleaning. However the Nauru Embassy in Melbourne confirmed there are no dry-cleaners in Nauru and that pervious presidents have flown their suits to Melbourne for dry-cleaning but are unsure whether the present President does the same or sends them somewhere else.

So, the two slightly contradict each other, but I think it's fair to deduce from this that there are no actual dry-cleaners in Nauru but previous Presidents have flown their suits to Melbourne to have them dry-cleaned.

... which is excellent. It's possible that we have created some sort of diplomatic incident here.

64364.  Sat Apr 08, 2006 4:47 am Reply with quote

Nue is a Pacific island nation whose name means ‘look, a coconut.’

It is the only nation in the world with free wireless access for all its citizens - all 2,000 of them. (I presume that means internet, rather than ITMA).

S: Sunday Telegraph, 2 April 2006.

64365.  Sat Apr 08, 2006 4:50 am Reply with quote

However the Nauru Embassy in Melbourne confirmed there are no dry-cleaners in Nauru and that pervious presidents have flown their suits to Melbourne for dry-cleaning

I suppose the more pervious you are, the more often you’d need your trousers cleaned.

64366.  Sat Apr 08, 2006 4:51 am Reply with quote

Nb. In case anyone wants to google it, I think the spelling is Niue.

[/pedantry] - sorry Mat

capital - alofi

64381.  Sat Apr 08, 2006 6:23 am Reply with quote

Thanks, Egg - my mistake, not the Telegraph’s. I dread to think what my mistype might have done to the translation!

65652.  Sat Apr 15, 2006 8:00 am Reply with quote

Per capita, St Lucia has more Nobel laureates than any other country. (Two.)

S: Wisden Cricketer, May 2006.


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