General Information about Vanuatu

The official name is the Republic of Vanuatu (Ripablik Blong Vanuatu).

Located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The area is 12.2 thousand km2, the population is 199.4 thousand people. (2003). The official languages ​​are Bislama (pidgin), English and French. The capital is the city of Port Vila (35.3 thousand people, 2003). Public holiday – Independence Day July 30 (1980). The monetary unit is vatu.

Member of the UN (since 1981), IMF (since 1982), Pacific Islands Forum (formerly UTF).

It is located on 83 islands (the largest is Espiritu Santo, about 4 thousand km2) of the New Hebrides archipelago, stretching from north to south for 900 km.

To the northwest of Vanuatu are the Solomon Islands, to the southwest is New Caledonia. In the west, the archipelago is washed by the Coral Sea.

Geographic coordinates: 16°00 south latitude and 167°00 east longitude.

Most of the islands are volcanic, mountainous (the highest point of Tabwemasan, 1877 m, Espiritu Santo). There are also low coral atolls and islets. The length of the coastline is 2528 km. Mountains and mountain plateaus with numerous craters occupy most of the volcanic islands, there are many hot water sources, there are several high-mountain lakes and numerous short rivers. The islands are located in a zone of active volcanic activity (Pacific “Ring of Fire”). Narrow plains are located along the coast and in the mouths of rivers. Red earth volcanic soils are very fertile. Forests and shrubs cover approx. 75% of the territory. The northern islands are covered with humid tropical, and the southern ones are covered with coniferous forests with valuable tree species. A giant banana tree, pine trees (kauri and dammaru), pandanus, araucaria, teak, etc. grow. Mammals are represented by bats, fruit bats. There are snakes, lizards, ca. 100 kinds of birds. In the surrounding waters, in addition to fish, there are turtles, lobsters, crabs, sea cows.

Mineral resources: fish stocks in the 200-mile economic zone (680 thousand km2), hardwood, there are deposits of manganese ore.

The climate is tropical in the north and subtropical in the south. Temperature +25-29°C at humidity 80-97%. The wet season is November-April. At this time, there are tropical cyclones and typhoons. The average annual rainfall is 2350 mm. Periodic earthquakes (destructive in 1999 and 2002) cause tsunamis.

According to Countryaah, the population of Vanuatu is growing at 1.5-2% per year, consists mainly of Melanesians (98%). There are also French, Vietnamese, Chinese, people from other Pacific islands. The population is scattered across the islands. OK. 80% live in villages. In addition to Bislam (Melanesian English – Pidgin), English is the most widely spoken language, and French is also used. The indigenous population speaks 115 Melanesian languages. Competently 70% of the adult population. Life expectancy for men is 60 years, for women 63 years. Infant mortality 58 people per 1000 newborns.

St. 60% of believers are Protestants (Presbyterians – 37%, Anglican Church – 15%) and 15% – Catholics. Adherents of local beliefs – 8%, etc.

The first European to visit the archipelago in 1606 (the island, which he called Espiritu Santo) was the Spaniard P. de Quiros. The archipelago received the name New Hebrides by the name of the northern islands of Scotland from J. Cook, who visited here in 1774. In 1906, the New Hebrides were declared a joint possession (condominium) of Great Britain and France. Hence, two administrations, different legal systems, languages, and so on. From the beginning 1970s political parties began to emerge, self-government developed, although the split of local political forces and contradictions between the colonial powers hampered the movement towards independence. The Constitution of the Republic of Vanuatu (Vanuatu – “Eternal Land”) was approved in October 1979, in November the Vanuaaku Party, headed by the Anglican priest W. Lini, won the elections to the National Assembly. In May 1980, French settlers and plantation workers mutinied on Espiritu Santo, which was suppressed after the declaration of independence (July 30, 1980) at the request of the government of the republic by the troops of Papua New Guinea, Great Britain and France. W. Lini’s government remained in power for 11 years. In the 1990s the internal political situation again became more complicated: coalition governments were replaced, political parties split. In the beginning. 21st century the situation has stabilized.

Vanuatu is a democratic republic, part of the Commonwealth (formerly British) of nations.

Administratively, the country is divided into 6 provinces. Cities: Port Vila (Efate Island), the second largest – Luganville (Espiritu Santo).

The head of state is the president (Bishop J. Bani), elected by an electoral college (deputies of parliament and presidents of regional councils) for 5 years (next elections in 2004).

The highest legislative body is the unicameral National Assembly (52 deputies), elected by universal suffrage for 4 years (next elections in 2006). Executive power lies with the prime minister, who is elected by parliament (usually the leader of the majority party in parliament). The Prime Minister (S. Sopoanga) appoints the ministers from among the deputies. The National Council of Chiefs (elected by the district chiefs’ councils) advises the government on land use and traditions and customs.

Political parties: Vanuaku Party (Our Earth Party, 14 seats in parliament), Union of Moderate Parties (15 seats), Vanuatu Republican Party (3 seats), Melanesian Progressive Party (2 seats), National United Party, etc. Political party allegiance is fluid.

There is no regular army, only police forces.

Vanuatu has diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation (established with the USSR in 1986).

GDP per capita – 1.2 thousand US dollars (2001). In 1984-93, the average annual GDP growth rate was 3%, in 1994-2002 it was only 1.5%. 65% of the economically active population is employed in agriculture, 3% in the service sector, and 5% in industry. Share in GDP production: agriculture – 26%, industry – 12%, services – 62%.

Agriculture is natural and semi-natural. Taro, sweet potato, yams, coconut palm, fruits, coffee, cocoa are grown. Pasture cattle breeding (about 130,000 heads of cattle) is carried out on the southern islands, and fishing is developing.

There are woodworking and food industries.

Of the 1070 km of roads, 250 km are paved. Seaports – Port Vila and Luganville. Over 50 foreign ships use them as their home ports. Out of 31 airports, 3 have paved runways, incl. in Port Vila and Espiritu Santo. 3 thousand people use the Internet.

The country is visited by approx. 40 thousand tourists per year (80% – from Australia and New Zealand). Ocean cruise ships call at Port Vila. To increase the influx of tourists, efforts are being made to develop infrastructure (airports, hotels, etc.).

The country is heavily dependent on foreign financial assistance (Australia and New Zealand).

Copra, beef, cocoa, wood, kava, coffee are exported. Imports – machinery and equipment, food and fuel. Foreign economic partners – Australia, Japan, New Zealand, etc.

In May 2003, Vanuatu was removed from the OECD’s blacklist (drawn up to combat money laundering) by the OECD after promising to provide information about financial transactions going through this country. The source of hard currency is also an offshore shipping register (port of registry).

Primary and practically free education covers 90% of children. Higher education can be obtained at a teacher training college, agricultural and medical schools. There is also a branch of the University of the South Pacific.

People of Vanuatu