Some facts about Vanuatu, its location, population and
Originally named New Hebrides, Vanuatu is an island
nation spread over 83 islands in South
Pacific. The meaning of Vanuatu in the local, Bislama language is "raising
land".The main administrative island is Efate island, home of Vanuatu
capital Port Vila, the largest town in Vanuatu. The largest island is Espiritu Santo, mostly known as Santo
island. Its centre Louganville is the largest town on the island and also the second largest town in
Vanuatu was first sighted by Portuguese in 1606 and charted by Captain James Cook in 1774. It was
under joint French and British control from 1906 until 1980, when it achieved independence. It is now known
officially as theRepublic of
Vanuatu - orRépublique de Vanuatu in
The latest DNA research suggests that the first people to
arrive to Vanuatu islands were of Lapita culture some 3,000 years ago. They expanded from Taiwan 5-6 millenniums
ago. Vanuatu was considered a gateway to the remote Pacific islands.
Paradise - video by Alcina Charlie, Vanuatu's local artist and
performer, features beautiful images from Vanuatu - from Second Lagoon (Port Vila),
Champagne Beach (Santo island), Port Vila and Sulphur Bays, to Mele Cascades,
Blue Hole (Santo) and Eton Beach.
Vanuatu archipelago is located in the South Pacific, which is part of larger region of Melanesia. Melanesia itself is a
sub-region of Oceania, which includes Australia, New Zealand, Micronesia, and Polynesia.
The name 'Melanesia' comes from Greek, meaning "black islands".
According to Wikipedia, '[t]he term was first used by Jules Dumont d'Urville in 1832 to denote an ethnic and
geographical grouping of islands distinct from Polynesia and Micronesia.'
Today this perhaps racial classification is known to be inaccurate,
as Melanesians have great cultural, linguistic, and genetic diversity. Ni-Vanuatu people belong to Melanesians
group, similar in appearance to Papuans. There are over 100 Ni-Vanuatu tribes, each with their own culture and
language. Estimates of the number of local languages spoken in Vanuatu vary between 105 and 115.
Vanuatu is a member of Commonwealth (ex-British colonies) and also
member of UN (The United Nations) since 1981.
Vanuatu is part of the Melanesian region, to which
also belong Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji and New Caledonia, with Coral Sea in its
Vanuatu is inhabited by Melanesian people, sometime referred to as
Ni-Vanuatu. The term 'Ni-Vanuatu' denotes all people who are members of Melanesian ethnicity, originating in
Vanuatu. The word 'Vanuatu' comes from local language and means 'our land forever'.
The overall population of Vanuatu is around 220,000, of which over
30,000 live in Port Vila, on Efate island. About 10,000 people live in Louganville, on Santo island.
Vanuatu's population is largely indigenous Melanesian - around 94%.
The rest of population are European, Pacific Islanders and Asian. Europeans are generally Australian and New
Zealandliving expats, who
Although Vanuatu cultures have rich tradition and practice many
customs (kastom), the predominant religion in Vanuatu is Christianity, which was brought over by the missionaries
in the 17th and 18th centuries. The largest Christian group are Presbiteryans, with Roman Catholics and Anglicans
also well represented.
The national language is Bislama, local pidgin. According to
Wikipedia, pidgin is a simplified form of language that develops as means of communication between two or more
groups of people who do not share a common language. Since Vanuatu has over 100 local languages, pidgin English, or
Bislama is used widely throughout Vanuatu islands.
But despite Bislama being Vanuatu's national language, both English
and French are official languages and widely spoken in Vanuatu. Bislama combines Melanesian grammar with mostly
English vocabulary, spoken and written in a simplified, phonetic format. The first Bislama dictionary was published
only recently, in 1995, while the second edition was published in 2004, according to Wikipedia.
Examples of Bislama phrases illustrate the simplified format of this
finished mas - must nomo - no more neva - never ol - all, many of
them olgeta - alltogether, all
of them sapos - suppose,
islands archipelago is divided into 6 administrative provinces,
as seen on the above map.(Map credit:
Administratively Vanuatu is divided into 6 provinces since 1994.
Those provinces are:
Shefa is the main province, where Efate island is located, with the
capital of Port Vila. The largest island Santo is in Sanma province, while the third largest Malakula island is in
Malampa province, as is Ambrym island. Pentecost and Maewo islands, known by Vanuatu custom
ofland dive, are located in Penama province.
Banks and Torres islands are in the most northern province of Torba,
while the most southern province of Tafea covers the well known islands of Tanna and Erromango, as well as
Aneityum.Read more about Vanuatu
University of the South Pacific
Port Vila is also one of the University of the South Pacific centres,
housing the Emalus Campus, the university's law school. The University of the South Pacific (USP) is the
international centre for teaching and research on Pacific culture and environment. The university is owned by the
governments of twelve Pacific Islands countries, including Vanuatu.