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Vanuatu: volcanic islands with primitive populations

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The Vanuatu Islands (Ripablik blong Vanuatu; Republic of Vanuatu; République de Vanuatu), formerly known as the New Hebrides, are a republic located in the western Pacific Ocean (Melanesia), south of the equator. The islands are located between the Fiji Islands, the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia. The capital is the small town of Port Vila on the island of Efate.

The Vanuatu Islands are an archipelago made up of over 80 islands that extend in a north-west south-east direction for about 800 km. Fourteen are the most important islands: Espiritu Santo (3,956 sq km), Malakula (2,041 sq 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 volcanic islands and are often surrounded by a coral reef. There are numerous active volcanoes in the archipelago, including Mount Yasur (361 meters) on the island of Tanna, the Ambae volcano (1,496 meters) on the island of the same name, the Marum volcano (1,334 meters) on the island of Ambrym, Mount Gharat (797 meters) on the island of Gaua, the Lopevi volcano (1,413 meters) on the island of the same name, and Mount Suretamate (921 meters) on the island of Vanua Lava. The highest mountain in the archipelago is Mount Tabwemasana (1,879 meters), on the island of Espiritu Santo.

The main economic resources of the archipelago are agriculture. Coconut palms, cocoa, coffee, fruit, taro, cassava, bananas, batate and vegetables are cultivated there. Other economic activities are fishing, forestry and cattle and pig breeding. The resources of the subsoil are represented by the extraction of manganese minerals present on the island of Efate. Tourism is constantly expanding as well as offshore financial and banking activities.


As for tourism, the islands are known for their populations that maintain their primitive customs and habits. The natural aspects with volcanic events and white and black sand beaches are also a attraction for tourists. The island of Espiritu Santo retains what is believed to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the Pacific, Champagne Beach.

The Vanuatu government.

  • 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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