Republic of Vanuatu

[French] République de Vanuatu

[Bislama] Ripablik blong Vanuatu

CAPITAL : Port-Vila

FLAG : Red and green sections are divided horizontally by a gold stripe running within a black border and widening at the hoist into a black triangle on which is a pig's tusk enclosing two crossed yellow mele leaves.

ANTHEM : Yumi, Yumi, Yumi (We, We, We).

MONETARY UNIT : As of 1 January 1981, the vatu ( VT ) replaced at par value the New Hebridean franc as the national currency. There are coins of 100 vatu and notes of 100, 500, 1,000, and 5,000 vatu. VT 1 = $0.0078 (or $1 = VT 126.97) as of May 2003.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES : The metric standard is used.

HOLIDAYS : New Year's Day, 1 January; May Day, 1 May; Independence Day, 30 July; Assumption, 15 August; Constitution Day, 5 October; National Unity Day, 29 November; Christmas Day, 25 December; Family Day, 26 December. Movable religious holidays include Good Friday, Easter Monday, and Ascension.

TIME : 11 PM = noon GMT.


The islands are of coral and volcanic origin; there are active volcanoes on several islands, including Ambrym, Lopevi, and Tanna. Most of the islands are forested and mountainous, with narrow coastal strips. The highest peak, Tabwemasana, on Espiritu Santo, rises 1,878 m (6,161 ft) above sea level. The islands are generally well watered.


Approximately 98% of the total population are of Melanesian origin. French constitute about 4% of the population. The remaining 2% is made up of Vietnamese, Chinese, and other Pacific Islanders.


Vanuatu is divided into six provinces (Malampa, Penama, Sanma, Shefa, Tafea, Torba). There are municipal councils in Port-Vila and Luganville, and community councils elsewhere. Espiritu Santo and Tanna have special regional councils.


The nation maintains close links with Papua New Guinea, where Vanuatuan cadets train for a mobile defense force under the auspices of the Australian Ministry of Defense, which also helps to train skilled manpower for national development tasks.


Although the South Pacific Fishing Co., a joint Vanuatuan government and Japanese venture, has facilities at Luganville that freeze and export both tuna and bonito to Japan and the United States, the full fishery potential has not been realized. Fishing is currently focused on domestic consumption; exporting fish requires a government permit. Vanuatu's catch was 73,490 tons in 2000; exports totaled $270,000 that year.


About 37% of the total land area is forest or bushland. Total roundwood production in 2000 was 131,000 cu m (388,300 cu ft), with 69% burned as fuel. Sawnwood production totaled 18,000 cu m (635,400 cu ft) that year, and exports of forest products were valued at $2.7 million. The government approved the establishment of a large commercial forestry plantation on Espirito Santo in 1987.


Vanuatu had few known minerals, although gold deposits have recently been discovered. A small manganese mine on Efate ceased exports in 1980.


Temporary generators established throughout the islands by the United States during World War II (1939–45) have mostly deteriorated. Total installed capacity was about 11,000 kW in 2001, all of it conventional thermal. Electricity production in 2000 totaled 39 million kWh, all of it from fossil fuels. Consumption of electricity in 2000 was 36.3 million kWh.


There is no advanced technology apart from overseas aid programs.


Insurance coverage is available through agents of overseas companies, mainly British and French.


Vanuatu imposes tariffs on both an ad valorem and specific basis. Tariff rates average 15–20%; however, rates for luxury goods could reach 200%. Printed matter is exempt. A 5% service tax is also charged on all imported goods. Export duties are levied on the country's primary products.


Father Walter Hayde Lini (1943–99), ordained as an Anglican priest in 1970, served as prime minister in Vanuatu from 1980 to 1991.


Vanuatu has no territories or colonies.


Craig, Robert D. Historical Dictionary of Polynesia. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2002.

Douglas, Norman. Vanuatu: A Guide. Sydney: Pacific Publications, 1987.

Lini, Walter. Beyond Pandemonium: From the New Hebrides to Vanuatu. Wellington: Asia Pacific Books, 1981.

MacClancy, Jeremy. To Kill a Bird with Two Stones: A Short History of Vanuatu. Port-Vila: Vanuatu Cultural Center, 1981.

Geology and Offshore Resources of Pacific Island Arcs— Vanuatu Region. Houston, Tex.: Circum-Pacific Council for Energy and Mineral Resources, 1988.

Harrisson, Tom. Living Among Cannibals. New York: AMS Press, 1979.

Lindstrom, Lamont. Knowledge and Power in a South Pacific Society. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1990.

Rodman, Margaret. Masters of Tradition: Consequences of Customary Land Tenure in Longana, Vanuatu. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1987.

Sturton, Mark. Policy Modeling in the Small Island Economies of the South Pacific: The Case of Vanuatu. Honolulu: East-West Center, 1989.

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