Vanuatu - Country history and economic development

1000 B.C. Evidence of human settlement on many islands.

1606 A.D. First European sighting of Vanuatu by Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, who founded an unsuccessful settlement on Espiritu Santo, the largest island in the Vanuatu group, and claimed the islands for Spain.

1768-89. Various European explorers—most commonly British and French—visit islands and introduce metal tools and weapons and new trade goods.

1825. Sandalwood trade starts, which accelerated trade even though the sandalwood resource was exhausted quickly.

1839. First Christian missionaries land; progress in conversion is slow, and some areas resist Christianity to the present day.

1864-1911. Labor recruitment for plantations in Fiji and Queensland, sometimes called "blackbirding."

1887. Condominium of New Hebrides established by French and British.

1940-41. New Hebrides joins Free French in WWII; Vila and Santo become American bases; Jon Frum movement starts proposing that Americans can deliver followers from missionaries and other Europeans.

1960s. Nagriamel, first political party, forms and demands independence and the return of some land.

1971. Tax haven established.

1980. Vanuatu granted independence; islands of Espiritu Santo and Tanna declare themselves independent under Nagriamel and Jon Frum movements; Britain and France refuse to take military action, so troops from Papua New Guinea defeat rebels and secure country for first prime minister, Walter Lini, leader of the Vanua'aku Party.

1982. Vanuatu declares itself nuclear free.

1991-2001. Series of coalition governments, often involving French-English party coalitions.

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