As the Baton today (13.11.2013) reaches the world’s smallest republic, what would be more fitting than to turn to the International Heritage project’s entry for Nauru, which displays a 19th-century map of the Pacific islands in which Nauru is named Pleasant Island.
The map appears in Polynesia: or, an historical account of the principal islands in the South Sea, including New Zealand (Edinburgh: Edinburgh Cabinet Library, 1842) by Glasgow graduate Michael Russell (1781-1848) .
The island was first reached by Europeans in 1798 aboard the British whaling ship, Hunter. The ship was captained by naval officer, John Fearne, who apparently coined the name ‘Pleasant Island’ following a positive encounter with indigenous islanders. Pleasant Island remained the name until the island came under German governance in 1888.