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Basic Information


Vanuatu is a Y-shaped chain of islands, extending 1176km in a north-south direction between the equator and the tropic of Capricorn. Its nearest neighbor is the Solomon Islands , just over 170km to the north. New Caledonia lays 230km to the south-west, while Fiji is 800km to the east. The capital, Vila is about 1900km north-east of Brisbane , Australia . There are over 80 islands and it has a population of approximately 200, 000 people. There are many languages in Vanuatu . Sometimes one island will have as many as 20 languages spoken by its people.



The climate is very warm and there is lush tropical bush. There is rain in the summer thus making the bush very green and dense. Black sand and white sand beaches circle most islands. There are very interesting coral reefs, making for very pleasant swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing. Plenty of nuts grow in Vanuatu including coconuts, peanut navel nuts, nangae nuts as do a variety of other species of plants, vegetables, fruits, flora and fauna. The weather and fertile sole contribute to this.



The archeological remains found in Vanuatu indicate that human beings have been living here for a very long time, approximately 3000 years. It would appear that New Guinea were the first to colonize Vanuatu . Crossing was long and dangerous, especially as the canoes were also used to carry animals and plants (taro, manioc, yam, etc). Other migrations followed and continued for quite some time before people settled down. This included Captain Pedro Ferdinand De Quiros, Louis Antoine de Bougainville and of course, Captain James Cook. By the late 1800s, the French and British had settled in Vanuatu and had signed an agreement making it a condominium. By July 30 th 1980, Vanuatu became an independent nation. Nowadays, all the inhabited islands have their own languages and their own customs and traditions whilst still retaining a British and French flair.



The traditional culture is very important and still very much alive among the Melanesian people. It is not just a matter of rituals, ceremonies and traditions, it is a whole way of life, which governs behavior and provides interpretations for what occurs. Customs and traditions have been thriving for centuries and they ensure respect within the communities. Customs is involved in every single major event in village life (marriage, death, circumcision, initiation, passage rites, etc) and ensures that law and order is maintained. Where disputes arise, these can be resolved peacefully by exchanging foods, mats and pigs. Nevertheless, as the years go by, changes have affected cultural rites and customs. Kava drinking and the nakamal used to be strictly for the men, whereas now women can go along as well.



Vanuatu 's official languages are Bislama, English and French. There are 115 mother tongues in common use - the world's highest concentration of different languages per head of population. English is very widely spoken and most people speak Bislama. Business communication is conducted in English, French or Bislama.