01/31/2013 09:01 am ET Updated Jan 31, 2013

Nauru: Visiting One Of The World's Smallest Republics (PHOTOS)

Happy independence day to the Republic of Nauru!

On January 31, 1968, the 8.1-square-mile island nation gained its independence.

The tiny coral atoll of around 9,000 people (as of a 2011 estimate) is located south of the Marshall Islands and north of the Solomons. Nauru's official visitor bureau promotes deep sea fishing, scuba diving and swimming as popular tourist activities. Visitors may also enjoy a leisurely stroll (perhaps to the abandoned phosphate mines?) and shopping for local artwork or Philatelic issues from the Nauru Philatelic Bureau.

Fun fact: Did you know that the flag of Nauru is actually a map showing how to find the island from space?

Visitors should note that, while the native language is Nauruan, English is widely spoken. The Australian dollar is the local currency, and the electrical sockets are the same as in Oz. There are a handful of places that accommodate travelers, like the Menen Hotel (with rates starting at A$95 per night.) Capelle & Partners offers lodgings in apartments (from $125 per night) and at the Ewa Lodge (for $85 per night.)

Air Nauru, aka Our Airline, operates flights from Brisbane, Australia on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, though that's subject to change. A visa is required for entry to Nauru.

In honor of Nauru's independence, a few photos then and now: