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Vanuatu consists of a Y-shaped chain of four main islands and 80 smaller islands, spanning a distance of 1,100 kms. Vanuatu is part of Melanesia, a grouping of islands ethnically and geographically distinct from Micronesia and Polynesia, lying between New Caledonia and Fiji in the South Pacific. Largest of the islands is Espiritu Santo (875 sq mi; 2,266 sq km); others are Efate, Malekula, Malo, Pentecost, and Tanna. Vanuatu has a highly-structured, hierarchical, village-based social organisation. In 2013, Vanuatu’s population was estimated at 252,000 with one-fifth of the population living in the capital Port Vila and the majority (76%) living in villages of less than 200 people. Vanuatu boasts 113 distinct languages and innumerable dialects. This makes it one of the most culturally diverse countries on earth. Vanuatu has three official languages: Bislama (pidgin English), French and English. The population is predominantly young with 62% of the population below 24. Vanuatu’s human development index in 2012 was 0.626, positioning it at 124 out of 187 countries. The 2013 GDP per capita was USD 3,277 (World Bank). 

Before it's independence in 1980, Vanuatu was jointly administered by France and the U.K. known as the New Hebrides for 74 years. Today, Vanuatu is a republic with a non-executive presidency. The President is elected by Parliament together with the Presidents of the regional councils and serves a five-year term. The single-chamber Parliament has 52 members, directly elected every four years by universal adult suffrage with an element of proportional representation. Parliament appoints the Prime Minister from among its members, and the Prime Minister appoints a council of ministers from among the MPs (The Commonwealth, 2015). 


Key Figures:

Population: 252,000 (estimate of the Vanuatu Statistics Bureau in 2013)

Capital: Port-Vila

Area: 12,190 square kilometers (4,707 square miles)

Language: Bislama, English, French and more than 100 local languages

Religion: Protestant, Catholic, indigenous beliefs

Currency: Vatu


Public Holidays in Vanuatu:

  • 1 January, New Year

  • 21 February, Fr. Walter.H.Lini Day

  • 5 March, Chief's Day

  • Good Friday

  • Easter Monday

  • 1 May, Labour Day

  • 29 May, Ascension Day

  • 24 July, Children's Day

  • 30 July, Independence Day

  • 15 August, Assumption Day

  • 5 October, Constitution Day

  • 29 November, Unity Day

  • 25 December, Christmas Day

  • 26 December, Family Day