About the Food of Nauru

Coral reef on the beach in Nauru. Photo by D-Online

If you’re the kind of lost soul who loves isolation, knowing your neighbors, and an ocean breeze, then Nauru is for you. Clocking in at just eight square miles, Nauru is the third smallest country in the world (and the smallest island nation). With more than three hundred miles between her and the closest piece of land, well, I can’t help but be amazed that anyone found their way to Nauru in the first place, let alone make their home there. I mean, what are the odds?

So let’s figure out what’s for eats on this little island.

Photos courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy's ARM Program.

As you can probably imagine based on the size of Nauru, not a lot of food grows here. Once host to lush forests, Nauru is now stripped almost bare with poor soil. Coconut and pandan fruit are about all you’ll find. Of course, off the island you’ll find a teeming buffet, filled with as much seafood as your net/rod/spear can capture. Coconut fish is on every menu [recipe].

The old (warrior suit from 1891. Photo by Daderot) contrasted with the new (Pizza shop in Aiue Boulevard at Aiwo, Nauru. Photo by CdaMVvWgS)

The majority of the food in Nauru is shipped in every six weeks. As the entire population counts down the boat’s arrival there’s an eerie echo in the grocery stores; aisle after aisle sits empty, while a few token items cling on until restocking day. If you ask the average person, their diet consists ofย grilled or fried fish, french fries [recipe], hamburgers, pizza, and Chinese food (including the ever popular twist of spam fried rice). Unfortunately, there’s hardly anything green to be found in a Nauruan meal.

If all this rich food has made you thirsty, saddle up to the nearest food shack. The national drink is considered iced coffee, loaded up with as much sugar as you can stand and plenty of milk [recipe].

In preparation for this week’s Global Table I watched this fascinating News clip on the food and people of Nauru (it’s about 7 minutes long). If you have the time, I’d highly recommend it to get a better picture. Never mind the sensational title.

Maps & flag courtesy CIA World Factbook. Buildings are the government (left) & parliament (right) of Nauru. Photo by Porthos Bop

What’s the closest you’ve been to Nauru?


  1. What a fascinating place! I had never heard of it, and once more look forward to learning something new through your blog

    (haven’t cooked much lately, unfortunately, even your special milk drink that I wanted to try right away is in the waiting list – moving: not for sissies! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Sasha Martin says

      Same here… it never ceases to amaze me. I keep trying to imagine myself on this island and what that would be like… just wild! I’ve read that people use the airport runway for jogging and walking since planes only land once a week or so (!!)

      • Too cool! Running on the airport runway! I gotta put that on my bucket list ๐Ÿ˜‰

        I often wonder how you choose the places to feature on your blog… well, whatever you do, keep doing, because you give your readers a wonderful window to the world!

        • Sasha Martin says

          Oh, it’s so super simple – I’m just going A-Z on the countries of the world. This makes it easy to know what to do next (although I accidentally did Nepal before Nauru last week – not sure what I was thinking). Anyway, as far as I’m concerned, the more places I can try the better ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. dutchgirl says

    I was expecting The Netherlands this week, but Nauru looks like an excellent alternative! Palm trees, sunshine and (at least in the pictures) no rain. Wish I were there…

    • Sasha Martin says

      Yes, things got a bit mixed up… I almost forgot to do Nauru… sorry about that … Save me a seat under the palm trees ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Brian S. says

    I heard of Nauru years and years ago. It was famous as the richest place on Earth. It had huge mineral deposits the profits from which went straight to the colonial rulers (Germany and then Australia) but on independence in the 1960s the money finally went to the inhabitants, giving them the highest per capita income in the world. But around 1985 the minerals ran out. So Nauru is broke. And as you say deforested. For ten years they made money helping criminals avoid income tax but this got them a lot of flack, so, moving on, they made money renting out prison space to Austraila to house Australian convicts (in an odd echo of early Australian history). But that ended 5 years ago. As far as I know people are happy there. You don’t need much to live. Here is some music from Nauru. It’s traditional music. Most traditions were, I believe, destroyed by 100 years of colonial rule.

    • Sasha Martin says

      Thanks Brian… it’s always important to keep our thinking ahead… to prepare for “what’s next”…

  4. How sad to watch the video clip! I found it very interesting though and it certainly serves as a wake-up call to our own fast-food country!

  5. Had never heard of this island before either! I think that the part I would have the hardest time dealing with is the lack of greens and fresh fruit and vegetables in general. The rest I could deal with…for a while… I like the idea of jogging on the runway!

  6. I hate to go negative, but I was only checking to see what they eat because they are supposedly the fattest people on earth.

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