Vanuatu Islands (Ripablik blong Vanuatu; Republic of Vanuatu; République de Vanuatu), previously known as New Hebrides, is a republic located in the Western Pacific Ocean (Melanesia), south of the equator, between the islands of Fiji, the Solomons and New Caledonia, the capital is Port Vila on the island of Efate.
Vanuatu Islands are an archipelago of more than 80 islands that extend in the direction of north-west south-east for about 800 km, fourteen islands are most important: Espiritu Santo (3,956 sq km), Malakula (2,041 km), Efate (900 sq km), Erromango (888 sq km), Ambrym (678 sq km), Tanna (555 sq km), Pentecost (491 sq km), Epi (445 sq km), Ambae or Aoba (402 sq km), Vanua Lava (334 sq km), Gaua (328 sq. km), Maewo (304 sq km), Malo (180 sq. km) and Anatom or Aneityum (159 sq km).
Most of the islands are high islands of volcanic origin and are often surrounded by coral reefs, in the archipelago there are present many active volcanoes, such as the Mount Yasur (361 metres) on the island of Tanna, Ambae volcano (1,496 metres ) in the island with the same name, the volcano Marum (1,334 metres) on the island of Ambrym, Mount Gharat (797 metres) on the island of Gaua, the Lopevi (1,413 metres) on the island of same name, and the Mount Suretamate (921 metres) on the island of Vanua Lava. The highest mountain of the archipelago is Mount Tabwemasana (1,879 metres) on the island of Espiritu Santo.
The main economic resource of the archipelago is agriculture (coconut palm, cocoa, coffee, fruit, taro, cassava, bananas, batate and vegetables), fisheries, forestry and livestock farming (cattle and pigs). The subsoil resources are represented by manganese minerals present in the island of Efate. Tourism is constantly expanding as well the financial assets and off-shore banking.
With regard to tourism, the islands are known for their populations that maintain their traditions and their primitive customs. Even the natural aspects with the volcanic events and beaches of white and black sand are an attraction for the tourists. The island of Espiritu Santo preserves what is regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches of the Pacific, the Champagne Beach.
- Area: 12,189 sqkm. (Arable 10%, Pastures 2%, Forests and Woodlands 75%, Uncultivated and Unproductive 13%)
- Population: 209,000 (2006 data ) (Melanesians (Ni-Vanuatu) 98,5%, Polinesians, Chinese and Europeans 1,5%).
- State Capital: Port Vila.
- Languages: English, French and Bislama are the official languages. In the country are spoken more than 100 local languages.
- Religion: Christian 90% (Presbyterian 37%, Anglican 15%, Catholic 15%, Adventist 6%, Congregationalist 4%), Indigenous Belief 8%.
- Currency: Vanuatu Vatu (VUV).
- Time: UTC +11 hours.
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