With the Olympics only recently over, a spirit of global diversity and interest is still high. Feeling cultural, we visited the CIA world fact book in search of a country to really get excited about - one that was often overlooked. We settled on the tiny island nation of the Republic of Nauru.
Though indisputably sovereign, the Republic of Nauru is one the smallest countries in the world. It has only 8.1 square miles of dry land to its name, and a total GDP of just under $37 million. But don't let us bore you with facts. We'll let the Republic of Nauru tell you himself. He happened to be on vacation near here and we brought him in for milk, cookies, and a little candor.
FCN: Thank you so much for being here.
Republic of Nauru: It is my very high honor.
FCN: That's really an immense pineapple hat you have on. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Republic of Nauru: It's a head dress. It's symbolizes my authority as president.
FCN: Does it make people respect you?
Republic of Nauru: Everyone on my island respects me.
FCN: So what's it like being a country?
Republic of Nauru: It's hard. There's so many duties. I hardly get any sleep. For example, recently I appointed myself as my cabinet members, and I had to get approval from parliament, which is all the way on the other side of the island. I was driving back and forth all day running papers to get the whole process done. On the bright side, there was no traffic and the votes were unanimous.
FCN: An analyst recently hailed Nauru as a beacon of democracy and transparency in the Pacific. What's your reaction?
Republic of Nauru: I'm sorry. Who said that?
FCN: You made your fortune on phosphate reserves back in the mid 1900s. What did you do when that ran out?
Republic of Nauru: Those were very dark times. Nauru is basically a phosphate rock. When I finished mining all the phosphate - which made the whole island sink a few inches - I called an emergency meeting of the NIC ...
FCN: Whoa, hang on a second. NIC?
Republic of Nauru: Nauru Island Council. It's a local government for the island, whereas parliament sits over the nation as a whole. It's like what you Americans call federalism, only with eight square miles to work with.
FCN: All right. Please continue you're story.
Republic of Nauru: So the NIC got together and I evaluated my options. Nauru isn't close to anything, doesn't have any natural resources (anymore), doesn't have manpower or genius or a good view or land space. It doesn't even have a Starbucks.
FCN: So what did you do?
Republic of Nauru: Money laundering for awhile. Tax evasion obviously. They were dark days. Unemployment was at 100%. There was a lot of hot money flowing around - corrupt banks invested; I even harbored some pirates on the western shore for a few months. There's things you can do with national sovereignty. Market wise. So finally I was approached by the Australian government. Those guys have all kinds of money.
Republic of Nauru: And they offered me a job! They established the Nauru Detention Center. It's like Guantanamo, but instead of terrorists it's people who want to move to Australia. It was nice having other people on the island. Helped stave off some of the loneliness. Sadly, the center closed last year. Since then ... you ever see Castaway? It's been a little like that.
FCN: So what brings you to California?
Republic of Nauru: I was considering maybe becoming a protectorate of the Johnson family. They live right down on Harney Lane - you know them? No? Well they found me on adoptacountry.com ... apparently they have hot showers. So we're talking that over - negotiating. Diplomacy can be a tricky thing.
FCN: But if you leave, who will run Nauru?
Republic of Nauru: I'm confused.
FCN: Some have called you schizophrenic, what with all the titles you hold back on your island. What do you say to that? Have you gone batty, all those years alone?
Republic of Nauru: The best psychiatrist in Nauru has verified my mental health.
FCN: Thank you so much for your time.
Republic of Nauru: No. Thank you. [tears up] Thank you so much. You don't know what this means to me.