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Republic of Nauru. Central Pacific. Nauru is a tiny island (21 square-km). Nauru Phosphate Corporation. Top Side. Mined out coral pinnacles from large deposits easily accessible high-grade phosphates. For millions of years billions of birds nested on Nauru and the excrement or guano ( phosphoric acid and nitrogen) they left behind reacted through leaching with the coral (lime) of the upraised atoll to form a hard, colorless rock averaging 85-88 % pure phosphate of lime. The primary deposits of phosphate are almost mined out, leaving four fifth of the island ressembling a ghostly landscape. The mining has produced dramatic consequences through the destruction of the vegetation and climatic changes. Over-mining has led to an "oven" effect: a bald plateau so hot the updraft disperses clouds and leads to drought. A truck drives on a dirt road. © 1999 Didier Ruef