The Pacific island nation of Nauru used to be a beautiful place.Now it is an ecological disaster area.Nauru's heartbreaking story could have one good consequence — other countries might learn from its mistakes.
For thousands of years，Polynesian people lived in the remote island of Nauru，far from western civilization.The first European to arrive was John Feam in 1798.He was the British captain of the Hunter, a whaling ship.He called the island Pleasant Island.
However, because it was very remote, Nauru had little communication with Europeans at first.The whaling ships and other traders began to visit, bringing guns and alcohol.These elements destroyed the social balance of the twelve family groups on the island.A tenyear civil war started, which reduced the population from 1，400 to 900.
Nauru's real troubles began in 1899 when a British mining company discovered phosphate (磷酸盐)on the island.In fact, it found that the island of Nauru was nearly all phosphate, which was a very important fertilizer for farming.The company began mining the phosphate.
A phosphate mine is not a hole in the ground; it is a strip mine.When a company stripmines, it removes the top layer of soil.Then it takes away the material it wants.Strip mining totally destroys the land.Gradually, the lovely island of Nauru started to look like the moon.
In 1968, Nauru became one of the richest countries in the world.Every year the government received millions and millions of dollars for its phosphate.
Unfortunately, the leaders invested the money unwisely and lost millions of dollars.In addition, they used millions more dollars for personal expenses.Soon people realized that they had a terrible problem－their phosphate was running out.Ninety percent of their island was destroyed and they had nothing.By 2000, Nauru was financially ruined.Experts say that it would take approximately $433，600，000 and more than 20 years to repair the island.This will probably never happen.