Meet Nauru, Once the World's Richest Island, Now With 90% Unemployment

Nauru is the smallest island nation in the world, a floating driblet of rock one tenth the size of Washington, D.C. Forty years ago, it was one of the wealthiest nations in the world thanks to rich, deep phosphate mines. Today, Johnny Colt reports for CNN, it has an unemployment rate of 90 percent.

And that's just the beginning:

My first meal in Nauru was a huge plate of white steamed rice topped with some type of fried meat, probably chicken, swimming in a heavily salted dark brown sauce. So much salt had me up all night searching the island for something to quench my thirst.

Nothing here is fresh. Phosphate mining has left nowhere to produce food. A head of lettuce costs $18 Australian.

So most of what people eat is low-cost and fried to make up for in taste what it lacks in freshness.

Today, about 40% of the population is diabetic, owing at least partly to poor nutrition.

Read the full story on CNN.

Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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