Vanuatu

Vanuatu is a South Pacific Ocean nation made of an archipelago of 83 islands stretching 1300 kilometers. It is an independent Republic with a unitary parliamentary system, a president and a prime minister.

Multiple waves of colonizers, each speaking a distinct language, migrated to the Melanesian islands in the millennia preceding European exploration. This settlement pattern accounts for the complex linguistic diversity found on the archipelago to this day.

The British and French settled on the islands in the 19th century and called the newly formed country “New Hebrides”. In 1906 they agreed to an Anglo-French Condominium, which administered the islands until independence in 1980, when the new name of Vanuatu was adopted.

Economy

Primarily based on small-scale agriculture, which provides a living for about two thirds of the population. Fishing, offshore financial services, and tourism, with an estimated 111,000 visitors in 2015, are other mainstays of the economy. Australia and New Zealand are the main source of tourists and aid.

A small light industry sector caters to the local market. Tax revenues come mainly from import duties and VAT.

Since 2002, the government has stepped up efforts to boost tourism through improved air connections, resort development, and cruise ships facilities. Agriculture, especially livestock farming is the second target for growth.

The islands offer scuba diving at coral reefs, underwater caverns and wrecks such as the WWII-era troopship SS President Coolidge. Hiking trails ascend active volcanoes such as Mt. Yasur. Other popular activities include rainforest ecotours, kayaking and deep-sea fishing, plus relaxing at resorts and spas.

Vanuatu has become a financial centre no one wants to ignore. Port-Vila’s banking network offers the regular services of a commercial banking system. Its currency (Vatu) is based on a basket of currencies which guarantees a very good stability.

Currently and approximately 1 000 vatus = 1 000 XPF = 8.50 EUR = 9.50 USD

Population

285,784 (April 2016 estimate).
Population growth rate 1.95%.

Languages

63.2% Local languages (more than 100)
33.7% Bislama (official)
2% English (official)
0.6% French (official)
0.5% Other

Religions

70% Protestant (includes Presbyterian 27.9%, Anglican 15.1%, Seventh Day Adventist 12.5%, Assemblies of God 4.7%, Church of Christ 4.5%, Neil Thomas Ministry 3.1%, and Apostolic 2.2%)
12.4% Roman Catholic
3.7% Customary beliefs
12.6% other
1.1% none
0.2% unspecified

Travelling to Vanuatu

You can fly to Port Vila’s Bauerfield International airport (VLI) directly from, Australia (3 hours), New Zealand (3 hours), New Caledonia (1 hour), Fiji (2 hours) and Solomon Islands. Direct flights to and from China are expected soon.