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Vanuatu

VANUATU

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT
TOPOGRAPHY
CLIMATE
FLORA AND FAUNA
ENVIRONMENT
POPULATION
MIGRATION
ETHNIC GROUPS
LANGUAGES
RELIGIONS
TRANSPORTATION
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL PARTIES
LOCAL GOVERNMENT
JUDICIAL SYSTEM
ARMED FORCES
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
ECONOMY
INCOME
LABOR
AGRICULTURE
ANIMAL HUSBANDRY
FISHING
FORESTRY
MINING
ENERGY AND POWER
INDUSTRY
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
DOMESTIC TRADE
FOREIGN TRADE
BALANCE OF PAYMENTS
BANKING AND SECURITIES
INSURANCE
PUBLIC FINANCE
TAXATION
CUSTOMS AND DUTIES
FOREIGN INVESTMENT
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HEALTH
HOUSING
EDUCATION
LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS
MEDIA
ORGANIZATIONS
TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION
FAMOUS VANUATUANS
DEPENDENCIES
BIBLIOGRAPHY

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. vt1 = $0.00895 (or $1 = vt111.79) as of 2004.

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.

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT

Vanuatu, formerly the Anglo-French condominium of the New Hebrides, is an irregular Y-shaped chain of some 80 islands, with a total land area of about 12,200 sq km (4,710 sq mi) and a total coastline of 2,528 km (1,571 mi). Comparatively, the area occupied by Vanuatu is slightly larger than the state of Connecticut. Of the 70 inhabited islands, the largest is Espiritu Santo; the island of Éfaté is the administrative center. The island chain is about 800 km (500 mi) long and lies about 1,000 km (600 mi) w of Fiji and 400 km (250 mi) ne of New Caledonia. Vanuatu and France both claim Matthew and Hunter islands, which lie between Vanuatu and New Caledonia; one of the islands has been occupied by French forces.

Vanuatu's capital city, Port-Vila, is located on the island of Éfaté.

TOPOGRAPHY

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. Being formed in a geologically active area, the islands experience occasional earthquakes. Though these are generally minor, a 6.8 magnitude earthquake was recorded at 90 miles (140 km) north of Luganville, Espiritu Santo, on 5 February 2005.

CLIMATE

The tropical oceanic climate is moderated by southeastern trade winds, which blow between the months of May and October. Winds are variable during the remainder of the year, and cyclones may occur. Average midday temperatures in Port-Vila range from 25°c (77°f) in winter to 29°c (84°f) in summer. Humidity averages about 74%, and rainfall on Éfaté is about 230 cm (90 in) a year.

FLORA AND FAUNA

Despite its tropical forests, Vanuatu has a limited number of plant and animal species. There are no indigenous large mammals, poisonous snakes, or spiders. The 19 species of native reptiles include the flowerpot snake, found only on Éfaté. There are 11 species of bat (3 unique to Vanuatu) and 61 species of land and water birds. While the small Polynesian rat is thought to be indigenous, the large species arrived with Europeans, as did domesticated hogs, dogs, and cattle. The wild pig and fowl appear to be indigenous.

The region is rich in sea life, with more than 4,000 species of marine mollusks. Coneshell and stonefish carry poison fatal to humans. The giant East African snail arrived only in the 1970s but already has spread from the Port-Vila region to Luganville.

ENVIRONMENT

Vanuatu's population growth has caused concern for the environment in several areas. Water pollution in urban areas is a problem due to inadequate sanitation systems. A majority of the country's population does not have access to a reliable supply of safe drinking water. The nation's logging industry threatens the forests and contributes to the problem of soil erosion. The reefs on Vanuatu's coasts, which are the home of the country's marine life, are threatened by inappropriate fishing methods and siltation. In 1987, the government formed the National Advisory Committee on the Environment (NACE) to address the nation's developing environmental concerns.

According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 5 types of mammals, 7 species of birds, 2 types of reptiles, 5 species of fish, and 10 species of plants. The estuarine crocodile, hawksbill turtle, Fiji banded iguana, and insular flying fox are threatened species.

POPULATION

The population of Vanuatu in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 218,000, which placed it at number 172 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 3% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 42% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 104 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 200510 was expected to be 2.6%, a rate the government viewed as too high. A high fertility rate, 4.3 births per woman, contributed to the high rate of population growth. The projected population for the year 2025 was 304,000.

The overall population density was 18 per sq km (46 per sq mi). The population is unevenly distributed, with the vast majority of Vanuatuans living in some 2,000 small villages. The most populous islands are Éfaté, Espiritu Santo, and Malekula.

The UN estimated that 21% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 4.09%. The capital city, Port-Vila, had a population of 34,000 in that year.

Luganville on Espiritu Santo, the only other large town, had a population of 10,738.

MIGRATION

Vanuatu's earliest known settlers probably migrated from the northwestern Pacific about 3,000 years ago. They were followed a thousand years later by migrants from the Solomon Islands. Tradition describes a series of subsequent incursions. In the 19th century, thousands of New Hebrides islanders were recruited as indentured laborers for plantation work in Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, and Samoa. This migration gradually died down after the establishment of the Anglo-French Condominium, although voluntary emigration to New Caledonia continued until independence. In recent years, adverse economic conditions have encouraged emigration to Fiji, New Zealand, and the United States. The net migration rate in 2005 was estimated as zero migrants per 1,000 population. Worker remittances in 2002 amounted to $31 million. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory.

ETHNIC GROUPS

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.

LANGUAGES

More than 100 languages and dialects are spoken in Vanuatu. Melanesian, the principal language, is related to Fijian and New Caledonian speech. Pidgin English, known as Bislama or Bichelama, is recognized by the constitution as the lingua franca, although English and French are also official languages. The national anthem is in Bislama, which is also used in parliamentary debate, with the proceedings reported in English and French as well. Children often speak as many as four languages and every aspect of public lifeincluding education, law, and the mediais complicated by language problems.

RELIGIONS

A majority of the population is considered to be Christian, though many include indigenous customs with their practice. The Anglican, Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic churches first began missionary work in the New Hebrides during the 19th century. More recently, the Seventh-Day Adventists and other nontraditional Protestant groups have been active in mission work. While most of the mission schools have been handed over to the government, missionaries have continued to make important contributions to education and health.

According to the latest estimates, about 48% of the population were Presbyterians, 15% were Roman Catholics, 12% were Anglican, 7.6% followed indigenous beliefs, 6.2% were Seventh-Day Adventist, 3.8% were members of the Church of Christ, and 15.7% were designated as other. Muslims are also active within the country. There are small groups of Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons. Since 1940, the John Frum Movement (political party and indigenous religion based on a rejection of the white Christian's beliefs but not his goods) has flourished, mainly on Tanna and provides a remarkable example of religious development in a situation of cultural challenge and transition. Membership, however, is only about 5% of the population.

The constitution allows for religious freedom while making a commitment to traditional values of Christian principles. Some subsidies are offered to Christian churches and the government maintains good relations with the Vanuatu Christian Council through the Ministry of Home Affairs.

TRANSPORTATION

During World War II, Vanuatu became an important Allied base, and many roads and airstrips were built by the US forces. In 2002, there were 1,070 km (665 mi) of roads, of which 256 km (159 mi) were paved. In 2003, there were 8,350 passenger cars and 4,450 commercial vehicles registered for use.

There were 30 small usable airfields serving all the main islands in 2004, of which 3 had paved runways as of 2005. The chief airports are Bauerfield, on Éfaté, and Pekoa, on Espiritu Santo; both have been upgraded to handle jet aircraft. Air Vanuatu, the national airline operated by Ansett Airlines of Australia, maintains regular service to Australia; an internal airline, Air Melanesiae, links 22 airfields on various islands. Other external service is provided by Air Pacific, UTA, Polynesian Airlines, Solair, and Air Nauru. Port-Vila and Luganville are the chief seaports. In 2001 (the latest year for which data was available), 97,500 passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international flights. Small ships provide frequent interisland service. Vanuatu maintains a policy of open registry for merchant ships, allowing foreign ship-owners to avoid the higher costs and regulations of registration under their own flags. As of 2005, there were 52 ships in the Vanuatuan merchant fleet of 1,000 GRT or more, with a total capacity of 1,192,474 GRT.

HISTORY

Although the Portuguese navigator Pedro Fernandes de Queir established a short-lived settlement on Espiritu Santo in 1606, little more is known about the history of the New Hebrides until French and British explorers arrived in the late 18th century. Captain James Cook discovered, named, and charted most of the southern islands in 1774. The next century brought British and French missionaries, planters, and traders, and for many years the islanders suffered from the depredations of the recruiting ships and from other lawless acts by Europeans in the region.

By the Anglo-French Convention of 1887, a joint naval commission was established, with a resident commissioner to protect the lives and interests of the islanders. In 1906 following a London conference, the Anglo-French Condominium was established, largely to settle land claims and to end difficulties caused by lack of clear local jurisdiction. Indigenous political activity developed after World War II, with increasing native concern over land alienation and European dominance.

In 1975 a representative assembly replaced the nominated advisory council under which the New Hebrides had been governed; 29 assembly members were elected by universal suffrage, nine members represented economic interests, and four members represented the traditional chiefs. In 1977 the National Party (Vanuaaku Pati), which held 21 of 42 assembly seats, demanded independence and staged a boycott of the legislature; in response, at a conference in Paris, self-government was agreed on for 1978, to be followed by a 1980 referendum on independence. After considerable difficulty, a constitutional conference in 1979 finally agreed on an independence constitution. In the November 1979 elections for a newly constituted, fully elective assembly, the National Party, led by Father Walter Lini, obtained 26 of the 39 seats.

In May 1980 however, a dissident francophone group, based on Espiritu Santo, attempted to break away and declared an independent government of Vemarana, under Jimmy Stevens and the Nagriamal Party. Attempts made during June to resolve the differences between the new central government and the rebels failed, and UK and French troops were sent to Luganville on 24 July. No shots were fired, but the soldiers remained until Vanuatu's formal declaration of independence on 30 July 1980. They were then replaced at the new government's request by forces from Papua New Guinea, who were assisted by the local police in putting down the rebellion.

Since independence, Vanuatu (Our Land Forever) has followed a nonaligned foreign policy. It became the first South Pacific nation to join the nonaligned movement, and in January 1987 it signed a controversial fishing agreement with the USSR. In May 1987 Vanuatu announced a ban on all military ships and aircraft in a dispute over a proposed Libyan diplomatic mission. The dispute ended with the expulsion of two Libyan diplomats. Relations with the French government remained strained throughout much of the Lini government's rule, though they improved at the end of 1989 with the signing of the Matignon Accord relating to New Caledonia.

In December 1988 President George Ati Sokomanu attempted to dismiss the Lini government by ordering the dissolution of the country's parliament. Sokomanu appointed Barak Sope as prime minister. Lini refused to surrender office and reconvened parliament. Sope and several supporters were arrested and charged with inciting mutiny. Sope was sentenced to six years' imprisonment.

Fr. Lini lost a parliamentary vote of confidence in September 1991 and he was replaced by Donald Kalpokas. In December 1991 the francophone Union of Moderate Parties (UMP), led by Maxime Carlot Korman, won the largest bloc of seats and formed a coalition government with the National United Party (NUP), led by Lini. Strains between the coalition members led to Lini joining the opposition in August 1993, but Carlot Korman's government survived the defection.

Parliamentary elections were again held in 1995, with the UMP winning slightly more seats than the Vanuatu Party (VP), led by Donald Kalpokas. Rialuth Serge Vohor was prime minister from November 1995 until a no-confidence vote in parliament forced his resignation on 7 February 1996. Maxime Carlot Korman was elected prime minister, forming a coalition, and parliament appointed Kalpokas deputy prime minister. The coalition was considered to be weak, however. On 30 September 1996 Korman was ousted by a no-confidence motion. Vohor was reelected as prime minister. The Vohor government repealed the Ombudsman's Act, but President Jean Marie Leye refused to declare this piece of legislation as law. Leye, in the face of dissent and political crises, took action to dissolve parliament. The ruling coalition refused to step down, questioning the constitutional right of Leye to do this. The Court of Appeal ruled in January 1998 that Leye's actions were legal, thus opening the way for a new general election. In the election held 6 March 1998 the VP of Kalpokas improved its earlier performance, but could not claim a majority. Kalpokas rejoined forces with Fr. Lini and the NUP and coalesced with minority party legislators to gain a clear majority. Kalpokas was elected prime minister. Willie Jimmy was named deputy prime minister on 19 October 1998. Kalpokas resigned to avoid a no-confidence vote in late 1999, and Barak Sope of Melanesian Progressive Party (MPP) became prime minister. In 1999, the government introduced a Comprehensive Reform Program, to combat corruption and abuse of power by government officials. It included a revamping of state administration, an increase in private sector development, a reduction in the public service sector, and the enactment of a leadership code of conduct.

At the South Pacific Forum in June 1999 Vanuatu supported a proposed Pacific Free Trade Area (FTA) that would initially include 14 countries in the region. The South Pacific Forum set up the Pacific Kava Council to work at protecting the regional rights to kava and its uses. The kava plant's reputed relaxation properties had attracted the attention of producers of herbal medicines. The establishment of kava plantations in Central America threatened the Pacific Islands' production. Vanuatu joined with other small island developing states (SIDS) through the United Nations SIDSnet, an Internet project linking over 40 island nations worldwide to address issues like the economic hurdles of isolation and small markets. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) issued a report assessing the ecological and population threats faced by SIDS, Vanuatu included. The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change announced its predictions on the consequences of global warming. Vanuatu was mentioned as already affected by inundation of low-lying areas and coastal regions by rising oceans.

In April 2001, Barak Sope was ousted as prime minister in a vote of no confidence, and Edward Natapei became prime minister. The new government undertook investigations into Sope's business dealings, and in November, Sope was charged with two counts of forgery. He was sentenced to three years' imprisonment but was subsequently pardoned by President Fr. John Bani. Natapei was reelected prime minister in May 2002, after parliamentary elections held on 30 April, in which his Vanua'aku Party took 15 seats and the Union of Moderate Parties took 14 seats.

Presidential and legislative elections were held in 2004. The controversial prime minister Serge Vohor, who took office in July 2004, was ousted following a no-confidence vote that December; Vohor had attempted to switch Vanuatu's diplomatic recognition of China to Taiwan. Ham Lini became prime minister in December 2004. In April and May 2004, Alfred Masing Nalo was elected president, but was later removed from office after the Supreme Court invalidated the result of the election. Kalkot Matas Kelekele was elected president in August 2004. The next presidential election was to be held in 2009, and the next prime minister election was scheduled to take place after the general elections in 2008.

GOVERNMENT

Under the independence constitution adopted in 1979 and effective in 1980, Vanuatu is an independent republic within the Commonwealth of Nations. The head of state is the president (Kalkot Matas Kelekele since August 2004); the head of government is the prime minister (Ham Lini since December 2004). The unicameral legislature consists of 52 members (39 before 1987, and 50 before 1998) elected by universal adult suffrage to four-year terms. The cabinet is responsible to parliament, and the president is chosen by an electoral college for a five-year term. The electoral system includes a degree of proportional representation. A Council of Chiefs chosen by their peers in the chiefs' district councils advises the government on the protection of Vanuatuan languages and culture.

POLITICAL PARTIES

The country saw six political parties be represented in parliament in the April 2002 elections: the Union of Moderate Parties (UMP, Serge Vohor); the National United Party (NUP, led by Father Walter Lini until his death in February 1999; thereafter by Dinh Van Than; leadership in 2005 was in question); the Vanua'aku Party (VP, Edward Natapei); Melanesian Progressive Party (MPP, Barak Sope); the Vanuatu Republic Party (VRP, Maxime Carlot Korman), and the Vanuatu Green Party (VGP, Moana Carcasses). Also represented in Vanuatu are the Jon Frum Movement (Song Keaspai); the Friend Melanesian Party (FMP, Albert Ravutia); and the Tan Union (TU, Vincent Boulekone). In the July 2004 elections, the NUP took 10 seats, UMP took 8, the VP won 8, VRP 4, MPP 3, VGP 3, and other candidates held 16 seats. The next parliamentary elections were to be held in 2008.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

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.

JUDICIAL SYSTEM

Despite the great difficulty in unifying laws based on the very different English and French traditions, Vanuatu has sought to establish a single system based on British criminal procedure and the French penal code. The constitution establishes a Supreme Court, with a chief justice and three other judges, as well as an appeals court. Village and island courts have jurisdiction over customary and other matters.

The judiciary is independent of the executive and free from military influence. The constitution guarantees a range of procedural due process protections including the presumption of innocence, fair public trial, habeas corpus, and the prohibition against double jeopardy.

ARMED FORCES

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.

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

Vanuatu joined the United Nations on 15 September 1981 and participates in ESCAP and several nonregional specialized agencies, such as the FAO, the World Bank, UNESCO, UNIDO, and the WHO. It also belongs to the Asian Development Bank (which opened a regional office in Port-Vila in 1984), the ACP Group, G-77, the Pacific Island Forum, the South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement (Sparteca), the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), and the Commonwealth of Nations. The country holds observer status in the WTO.

Vanuatu has taken an active role in Pacific affairs, campaigning for a nuclear-free zone and advocating independence for New Caledonia. Vanuatu has established diplomatic relations with a number of OECD countries, as well as China, Cuba, Vietnam, and Libya. The country is part of the Nonaligned Movement.

In environmental cooperation, Vanuatu is part of the Convention on Biological Diversity, CITES, the London Convention, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change, and Desertification.

ECONOMY

Vanuatu has a mixed traditional and modern economy. Agriculture supports about 65% of the population, but the service industry is playing an increasingly important role in the economy. Tourism has been developed since the 1980s and, together with financial services, has become an important foreign exchange earner. GDP grew by less than 3% a year in the 1990s. For the three years 2000 to 2002, GDP growth averaged 3% and inflation averaged 3%. During this period the islands had to deal with the extensive damage from two severe earthquakes, each followed by sizeable tsunamis: in November, 1999 on the northern island of Pentecote, and in January 2002, centered on the capital and surrounding areas. The absence of personal and corporate income taxes has made Vanuatu an offshore financial center, and the government also earns fees from a "flag of convenience" shipping registry.

The GDP growth rate was 2.8% in 2004, up from 1.6% in 2003; in 2005, the economy was expected to grow by 2.8%. The inflation rate has fluctuated slightly, but at 1.8% in 2004, it did not pose a problem to the economy. Strong economic development is hindered by the geographic isolation of the country, its vulnerability to natural disasters, and its dependency on relatively few export commodities.

INCOME

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Vanuatu's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $580.0 million. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $2,900. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 1.1%. The average inflation rate in 2003 was 3.1%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 26% of GDP, industry 12%, and services 62%.

According to the World Bank, in 2001 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $16 million or about $76 per capita and accounted for approximately 6.8% of GDP.

LABOR

About 80% of the population is engaged in peasant labor either for subsistence or producing cash crops such as copra. As of 2002, there were approximately 25,000 persons participating in the formal economy as wage earners. In 2000 (the latest year for which data was available), agriculture accounted for 65% of the labor force, with industry at 5% and the services sector at 30%. There was no unemployment data available. The wage-labor force is concentrated in Port-Vila and Luganville.

For persons engaged in government enterprises, port work, construction, and certain other jobs, the terms of employment and wages are set by legislation. The nation's first trade unions were formed in 1984. In 2002 there were seven trade unions; the largest two were the Oil and Gas Workers' Union and the Vanuatu Airline Workers' Union. Union membership has fallen from 4,000 in 1994 to less than 1,000 in 2002.

The law prohibits children under 12 from working. Children between 12 and 18 may work under restricted hours and conditions. The Labor Department effectively enforces these laws. In 2002, the minimum wage was $143 per month for all workers. This does not provide an adequate living and most families subsidize this amount with subsistence farming. The law mandates a 44-hour maximum workweek. The Employment Act provides health and safety standards but these are not effectively enforced.

AGRICULTURE

About 9% of the land is cultivated. While most crops, including yams, taro, manioc, sweet potato, and breadfruit, are raised for local consumption, cash crops like copra, cocoa, and coffee have been increasingly important. Production of coconuts totaled 240,000 tons in 2004. Copra exports have been declining as a share of total exports, from 43% in 1995 to 8% in 2002. Vanuatu maintained an agricultural surplus of $2.6 million in 2004, with Bangladesh and Japan as the leading markets.

In 1983, Vanuatu's first agricultural census was taken, with British assistance. A land alienation act passed in 1982 limits land ownership to indigenous owners and their descendants, but expatriates can lease land for up to 75 years.

ANIMAL HUSBANDRY

Hogs and fowl form part of the village economy. Vanuatu is ideal for cattle, and large numbers are raised on plantations; in 2005 there were an estimated 152,000 head of cattle, up from around 124,000 in 1990. The growing meat-packing industry produces frozen, chilled, and tinned beef; production of beef totaled about 3,300 tons (dressed carcass weight) in 2005. The beef industry is centered on the island of Espiritu Santo, where the country's main abattoir is located. Beef is exported primarily to Japan, with a lesser amount going to New Caledonia.

FISHING

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 focused on domestic consumption; exporting fish requires a government permit. Vanuatu's catch was 31,394 tons in 2003; exports totaled $1.9 million that year.

FORESTRY

About 37% of the total land area is forest or bushland. Total roundwood production in 2004 was 119,000 cu m (4.2 million cu ft), with 76% burned as fuel. Sawnwood production totaled 28,000 cu m (988,000 cu ft) that year, and exports of forest products were valued at $3 million. The government approved the establishment of a large commercial forestry plantation on Espirito Santo in 1987.

MINING

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

ENERGY AND POWER

Temporary generators established throughout the islands by the United States during World War II (193945) have mostly deteriorated. Total installed capacity was about 12,000 kW in 2002, all of it conventional thermal. Electricity production in 2002 totaled 42 million kWh, all of it from fossil fuels. Consumption of electricity that year was 39 million kWh.

All hydrocarbon needs were met by imports. In 2002, imports and demand for refined petroleum products each averaged 610 barrels per day. There were no imports or consumption of natural gas or coal in 2002.

INDUSTRY

The industrial sector is small: in 1990 it contributed about 12.3% to GDP; in 1996, 13% and in 2001, 11.5%. The leading industries are fish and food freezing, wood processing, and meat canning. The small manufacturing sector, accounting for 5.5% of GDP in 1990 and 5% in 2001, is geared to toward domestic consumption. Indigenous crafts include basketry, canoe building, and pottery. In 1990, National Breweries, a joint venture with Sweden, began producing Tusker beer and Pripps Lager.

In 2003, the main contributor to the GDP was the transport and communications sector (32.4%); agriculture came in second with 19.3%. Manufacturing and construction had the smallest share in the economy, with 3.6% and 2.5% respectively.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

There is no advanced technology apart from overseas aid programs.

DOMESTIC TRADE

A large part of the population still relies on barter. In Port-Vila, European businesses dominate commercial life; there are hotels, supermarkets, fashion shops, and patisseries, as well as Australian steak houses and small Chinese restaurants. Some Vanuatuans have entered the cash economy in urban areas. There is a very small light industry section that supplies the local markets. The nation's numerous cooperative societies handle most of the distribution of goods on the islands. A value-added tax applies to most goods and services.

Normal business hours in the capital are 7:30 to 11:30 am and 1:30 to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. Banks in Vanuatu are open on weekdays from 8 to 11:30 am and 1:30 to 3 pm.

FOREIGN TRADE

In 2000, exports totaled $23.2 million and imports amounted to $86.7 million. Service receipts have helped offset the traditionally adverse trade balances. A commodities marketing board exports copra and cocoa, and cooperatives play a major role in foreign trade. Most of Vanuatu's export commodities are foodstuffs, including oil seeds, (34%), vegetables (15%), wood (13%), meat (12%), cocoa (4.7%), and fish (1.3%).

In 2004, exports totaled $205 million (FOBFree on Board), while imports grew to $233 million (CIFCost and Freight). Most of the exports went to Thailand (47%), Malaysia (18.4%), Japan (7.5%), Belgium (5.4%), and China (4.9%). Imports included machinery and transport equipment, food and live animals, basic manufactures, and mineral fuels, and primarily came from Taiwan (24%), Australia (16.5%), Japan (11.4%), Singapore (8.5%), New Zealand (7.2%), Fiji (6.3%), and the United States (4.4%).

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 23.2 86.7 -63.5
Bangladesh 5.0 5.0
Japan 2.8 4.4 -1.6
United Kingdom 2.4 0.1 2.3
China, Hong Kong SAR 1.4 1.8 -0.4
Australia 1.4 38.5 -37.1
New Caledonia 1.4 5.0 -3.6
Fiji 1.3 7.9 -6.6
French South Antartic Territories 0.8 0.8
New Zealand 0.7 10.0 -9.3
Netherlands 0.7 0.1 0.6
() data not available or not significant.
Current Account -41.3
     Balance on goods -65.0
         Imports -91.8
         Exports 26.8
     Balance on services 40.6
     Balance on income -11.8
     Current transfers -5.1
Capital Account -4.7
Financial Account 39.6
     Direct investment abroad -0.7
     Direct investment in Vanuatu 15.5
     Portfolio investment assets 2.1
     Portfolio investment liabilities
     Financial derivatives
     Other investment assets 51.8
     Other investment liabilities -29.1
Net Errors and Omissions -5.0
Reserves and Related Items 11.3
() data not available or not significant.

BALANCE OF PAYMENTS

Continuing trade deficits have been offset by aid from the United Kingdom and France, but this assistance is being steadily reduced.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reported that in 2000 the purchasing power parity of Vanuatu's exports was $22.8 million while imports totaled $87.5 million resulting in a trade deficit of $64.7 million.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2001 Vanuatu had exports of goods totaling $20 million and imports totaling $78 million. The services credit totaled $119 million and debit $73 million.

Exports of goods and services totaled $38 million in 2004, up from $27 million in 2003. Imports grew from $91 million in 2003, to $112 million in 2004. The resource balance was consequently negative, and on a downward pathfrom -$64 million in 2003 to -$74 million in 2004. A different trend was registered for the current account balance, which improved from -$28 million in 2003, to -$15 million in 2004. Foreign exchange reserves (excluding gold) grew to $62 million in 2004, covering more than six months of imports.

BANKING AND SECURITIES

Vanuatu's banking system includes a Central Bank, local retail banks, and a Development Bank that provides loans for agricultural projects, housing, and industrial development. The country's Financial Centre, a tax haven created by the British in 1971, is the third-largest source of government revenue. Favorable regulatory and tax structures have stimulated foreign interest in Vanuatu as an international financial center; more than 600 offshore companies and banks were registered in Port-Vila in 1985. Local banks require no minimum deposits for vatu accounts and a minimum of us$5,000, or the equivalent in major specified currencies, for foreign currency holdings. Vanuatu has no double taxation agreements with other countries, ensuring maximum confidentiality for international financial transactions. In late 1999, a number of foreign bank-including Deutsche Bank, Banker's Trust, and the Bank of New York-banned trading in us with Vanuatu because of suspected illegal activity being carried on through the Vanuatu financial center. The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $55.3 million. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $245.6 million. The money market rate, the rate at which financial institutions lend to one another in the short term, was 5.5%. The discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 6.5%.

There is no stock exchange.

INSURANCE

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

PUBLIC FINANCE

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2003 Vanuatu's central government took in revenues of approximately $52.6 million and had expenditures of $54.3 million. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$1.7 million. Total external debt was $83.7 million.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 1997, the most recent year for which it had data, central government revenues were vt6,858 million and expenditures were vt7,023 million. The value of revenues was us$59 million and expenditures us$61 million, based on a official exchange rate for 1997 of us$1 = vt115.87 as reported by the IMF. Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 33.8%; public order and safety, 8.4%; economic affairs, 26.3%; housing and community

Revenue and Grants 6,858 100.0%
     Tax revenue 5,718 83.4%
     Social contributions
     Grants 653 9.5%
     Other revenue 487 7.1%
Expenditures 7,023 100.0%
     General public services 2,372 33.8%
     Defense
     Public order and safety 587 8.4%
     Economic affairs 1,846 26.3%
     Environmental protection
     Housing and community amenities 259 3.7%
     Health 655 9.3%
     Recreational, culture, and religion 35 0.5%
     Education 1,269 18.1%
     Social protection
() data not available or not significant.

amenities, 3.7%; health, 9.3%; recreation, culture, and religion, 0.5%; and education, 18.1%.

TAXATION

Vanuatu has no income, corporation, or sales tax. Government revenues are derived from indirect taxes, which include stamp taxes, an excise tax on locally produced alcoholic beverages, a 10% hotel tax, and a rent tax. In 2000 the OECD listed Vanuatu as one of 38 uncooperative tax havens. In 2002, it was one of seven that remained on the list. In May 2003, however, Vanuatu was removed from the blacklist, having promised an OECD representative to make the required reforms.

CUSTOMS AND DUTIES

Vanuatu imposes tariffs on both an ad valorem and specific basis. Tariff rates average 1520%; 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.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT

The government encourages all forms of foreign investment, especially if there is joint local participation. There are no major foreign ownership restrictions, and duty exemptions are available on application to the Ministry of Finance. In late 1999 Vanuatu's Department of Trade announced that, to be considered, all foreign investment proposals must be accompanied by us$38,000. This action was taken because of the high number of project proposals approved that have not been implemented. According to statistics published by UNCTAD, foreign direct investment (FDI) in Vanuatu was us$30.2 million in 1997, but dropped to us$20.4 million in 1998, and averaged us$20.275 for the three years following (1999 to 2001).

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

The British independence settlement provided grants of £23.4 million to Vanuatu, including £6.4 million in budgetary aid (with additional grants provided annually), £4 million for technical aid, and £13 million for development projects aimed at promoting national economic self-sufficiency. Projects under the five-year development plan for 198286 included harbor development, agricultural training, and road improvements. Aid for other infrastructural development is provided by Australia, New Zealand, the UN, and the EU. Government development projects emphasize local participation and preservation of Vanuatu's cultural heritage. In 1995, Vanuatu received us$45.8 million in aid from international sources. In 2000, Vanuatu was listed on the OECD's list of "uncooperative" tax havens. In 2002, it was one of only seven jurisdictions still on the list of not having take corrective action. In May 2003, however, Vanuatu was the first of the seven to be removed from the blacklist having agreed, after discussions with OECD representatives, to institute the necessary reforms. Vanuatu remains one of the top 10 "flags of convenience" registries.

The economy of Vanuatu recovered in 2003 and 2004, and the trend is expected to continue in coming years, although not at exceptional rates. The economic growth will primarily be driven by the beef industry, and by a rising output in the forestry industry.

The tourism industry is also expected to bring increasing foreign exchange in the country, although the country's main airline might be facing problems in the future (due to increasing oil prices).

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

The majority of the people cling to traditional village life. The extended family system ensures that no islanders starve, while church missions and the social development section of the Education Ministry concentrate on rural development and youth activities. The government incorporates family planning into its overall maternal and child health program. A provident fund system provides lump-sum benefits for old age, disability, and death. Workers contributed 4% of earnings and employers contribute 6% of payroll. Pensions are provided at the age of 55.

Women are still largely confined to traditional cultural roles, and most marriages include a "bride-price" that encourages men to consider their wives as possessions. Women generally do not own land. Village chiefs usually act to reinforce the subordinate roles of women and are thus viewed as a primary obstacle to female advancement. There are no female leaders in Vanuatu's civic, business, or religious institutions. A disproportionate number of women lost their jobs due to cutbacks in government employment. Violence against women, especially domestic abuse, is common. Most cases of violence against women go unreported because women are afraid of further abuse and do not understand their rights. As of 2004, there were no governmental agencies to support victims of domestic violence.

Human rights are generally well respected in Vanuatu.

HEALTH

Malaria is the most serious of the country's diseases, which also include leprosy, tuberculosis, filariasis, and venereal diseases. Safe water was available to 87% of Vanuatu's population.

Medical care is provided by 94 hospitals, health centers, and clinics administered by the Ministry of Health, assisted by the World Health Organization and a number of voluntary agencies. Local training schemes in basic community nursing are provided by Port-Vila hospitals and local clinics train health and sanitation orderlies. In 2004, there were an estimated 11 physicians and 235 nurses per 100,000 people.

Only 12% of married women were using contraception. In 2005, the infant mortality rate was estimated at 55.16 per 1,000 live births. In the same year the estimated birth rate (24.8 per 1,000 people) far exceeded the general mortality rate (8.3 per 1,000 people). The fertility rate was 3.1 children per woman. Average life expectancy was an estimated 62.85 years in 2004. The immunization rates for children under one were as follows: diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 74%; polio, 74%; measles, 53%; and tuberculosis, 86%.

HOUSING

In urban areas only the emerging middle class can afford government-built housing. Other migrants to the towns buy plots of land and build cheap shacks of corrugated iron and waste materials, principally near Port-Vila and Luganville. The vast majority of villagers still build their own homes from local materials. The majority of dwellings are traditional Melanesian houses with earth or coral floors, no glass windows, and palm, bamboo, or cane walls and roofing. The most widely used exterior construction material was bush. In 1998, 87% of the population had access to safe drinking water. In 2001, there were 89 construction approvals granted for residential housing.

EDUCATION

Primary education is available for almost all children except in a few remote tribal areas. Education is provided in either English or French. Full secondary education is provided by the Anglophone Malapoa College and the French Lycée at Port-Vila; limited secondary education is also available in five English postprimary schools and three French mission schools.

In 2001, about 75% of children between the ages of four and five were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 94% of age-eligible students. In 2001, secondary school enrollment was about 27% of age-eligible students. It is estimated that about 96.2% of all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 23:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 16:1. In 2003, private schools accounted for about 3.8% of primary school enrollment and 20.6% of secondary enrollment.

For postsecondary education, especially medical and technical training, selected students go principally to Fiji, Australia, and New Zealand. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 74%. As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 6.3% of GDP, or 28.6% of total government expenditures.

LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS

The National Library is housed in the Vanuatu Cultural Center in Port-Vila. The Port-Vila Public Library, also a part of the Cultural Center, has a fairly well-stocked library of both French and English books and periodicals and houses fine collections of Melanesian art and artifacts, as well as a valuable stamp collection; it is the only public library service in the country. The secondary schools also have libraries, and there is a small library in the parliament building. Éfaté has a small museum displaying South Pacific artifacts and current works of art. The Vanuatu Cultural Center maintains a National Museum. There is a private fine arts museum are located in Port-Vila.

MEDIA

Vanuatu is linked by telegraph and telex to Hong Kong; Paris; Noumea, New Caledonia; and Sydney, Australia. An earth satellite tracking station came into service in 1979. In 2003, there were 6,500 mainline phones and 7,800 mobile phones in use nationwide. Radio Vanuatu (founded 1966) broadcasts daily in English, French, and Bislama. As of 2002, there were four radio stations and one television station, all operated by the state. In 1997 there were 254 radios and 10 television sets per 1,000 population. In 2003, there were 7,500 Internet subscribers served by 512 Internet hosts. The weekly government newspaper, The Vanuatu Weekly, appears in English, French, and Bislama. In 2002, it had a circulation of 1,700. In 2005, there were also four privately owned weekly papers. The constitution provides for free speech and a free press; however, in practice these provisions are not always honored, threatening opposition groups and media representatives with revocations of licenses and permits.

ORGANIZATIONS

There are a great number of European organizations, but the cooperative movement has had the greatest local impact. Cooperative units have organized a training center in Port-Vila for such skills as accounting, management, law, and marketing. Cooperatives receive British aid and government support but remain firmly independent. There is an active Vanuatu Credit Union League offering educational opportunities as well as financial services to members.

National youth organizations include the Vanuatu National Youth Council and the Vanuatu National Union of Students. There are several active sports associations promoting amateur competition for all ages in a variety of pastimes, including cricket, tennis, tae kwon do, and track and field. Many sports clubs are affiliated with the national Olympic Committee. The Vanuatu Association of Women Graduates promotes higher education opportunities for women. There are national chapters of the Red Cross Society, and UNICEF, and Habitat for Humanity.

TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION

The most popular recreations in Vanuatu include marine sightseeing, deep-sea fishing, sailing, and beachcombing for shells. Citizens from most nations do not require visas. However, a valid passport and onward/return ticket are necessary. The number of tourist arrivals reached 50,400 in 2003, almost 58% of whom came from Australia. Tourist receipts totaled $71 million the same year. There were 10,793 rooms in hotels and other establishments with 28,235 beds and an occupancy rate of 35%. The average length of stay was nine nights.

The US Department of State estimated the daily cost of staying in Port Vila at $258 in 2005. Other areas ranged from $33 to $166 per day.

FAMOUS VANUATUANS

Father Walter Hayde Lini (194399), ordained as an Anglican priest in 1970, served as prime minister in Vanuatu from 1980 to 1991.

DEPENDENCIES

Vanuatu has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bennett, Michelle. Vanuatu. 4th ed. London, Eng.: Lonely Planet, 2003.

Bolton, Lissant. Unfolding the Moon: Enacting Women's Kastom in Vanuatu. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2003.

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

Leibo, Steven A. East and Southeast Asia, 2005. 38th ed. Harpers Ferry, W.Va.: Stryker-Post Publications, 2005.

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

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Vanuatu

VANUATU

Republic of Vanuatu

République de Vanuatu

Ripablik blong Vanuatu

COUNTRY OVERVIEW

LOCATION AND SIZE.

Vanuatu is located in Oceania, about 2,000 kilometers (1,243 miles) to the northeast of Australia, to the south of Solomon Islands, and north of New Caledonia. It consists of a group of more than 80 islands with a land area of 14,760 square kilometers (5,699 square miles) (slightly larger than the state of Connecticut) and a coastline of 2,528 kilometers (1,570 miles).

POPULATION.

The population of Vanuatu was estimated at 199,800 in mid-2000, an increase of 3.4 percent from the 1999 census population of 193,219. In 2000, the birth rate was 36.0 per 1,000 while the death rate stood at 6.2 per 1,000. With a projected annual population growth rate of 3.0 percent between 2000 and 2010, the population is expected to reach 267,600 by 2010 and to double in 23 years.

About 94 percent of the population are Melanesian by origin, made up of about 100 different cultural groups. A further 4 percent is French, and there are small but significant populations of Vietnamese and Chinese.

With a high total fertility rate of 5.3, the population is very young, with about 37 percent under the age of 15 and only about 3 percent over 65 years. This is a result of both the high birth rate and a relatively low life expectancy. The majority of the population is rural, with only 21 percent of the people living in urban areas. However, the urban growth rate is about 50 percent higher than the total growth rate, and this growth is mainly centered on the 2 largest urban centers, Port Vila and Luganville.

OVERVIEW OF ECONOMY

Lying in the Western Pacific Ocean, Vanuatu is made up of a chain of islands with diverse physical characteristics and economic potential. The islands range from small coral atolls to relatively large islands of volcanic origin. Nearly 80 percent of the population of Vanuatu live in villages, so subsistence production of food, housing, and other items is the mainstay of the household economy. Most households also participate in some cash production, mainly of agricultural products such as copra (dried coconut flesh), cocoa, and coffee. Recently, new items that have entered the village cash economy, and which are of relatively high value, are kava and squash.

The formal economy of Vanuatu is based mainly on agricultural products and services. Copra and coconut oil are produced on large-scale plantations as well as in the villages. Coconut plantations often have cattle as well. Other products common to the village economy are also produced in plantations, in particular cocoa and coffee. Fishing supplies the internal market and is also a source of export income.

Vanuatu regularly has a negative balance of trade , and this is balanced by the services sector. Tourism has been growing steadily in recent years, partly because of heavy promotion in nearby countries such as Australia and New Zealand. Another significant source of employment and government revenues is the Offshore Financial Centre (OFC), which provides a tax haven for offshore banks , trust companies, insurance companies, and shipping companies.

International aid accounts for about 35 percent of GDP and development expenditure since independence in 1980 has been mainly financed by aid. Australia is the largest aid donor, followed by Asian Development Bank, France, Japan, and New Zealand.

POLITICS, GOVERNMENT, AND TAXATION

During the colonial period from 1906 to 1980, Vanuatu, then known as the New Hebrides, had the distinction of being ruled by 2 colonial powers, Great Britain and France. This "condominium" arrangement has sometimes been termed "pandemonium" since there were 2 systems of administration, education, and courts. Furthermore, in addition to the 2 colonial languages of English and French, inhabitants spoke one or more of about 100 indigenous languages. For most ni-Vanuatu (people of Vanuatu) the only effective language of communication was, and is, Bislama (a kind of Pidgin which has strong elements of English vocabulary and Melanesian grammar).

After obtaining independence from Great Britain and France in 1980, dual systems continued to operate in some contexts, especially education. Systems of administration, courts, etc. were combined, but still operated in at least 2 languages. The country adopted a republican system, with a president as head of state (elected by an electoral college of parliament and regional council presidents), and a prime minister selected by a parliament of 52 members elected by universal suffrage of all citizens aged 18 and over. A considerable number of political parties have formed and reformed since independence, but in most cases they are based on the colonial language split, either being Anglophone (English-speaking) or Francophone (French-speaking) parties.

The primarily Anglophone Vanua'aku Party, with Father Walter Lini as prime minister, held power from 1980 to 1991, when parliament voted him out in a no-confidence motion. Subsequently, Francophone parties, usually in coalition, have tended to form the governments. In the late 1990s, there was a great deal of political turmoil as governments changed and various political leaders were accused of corruption. In early 2001, Barak Sope, an English speaker, was selected as prime minister of a coalition government. Following much political turmoil in the late 1990s, the English-French divide appeared to be less important, as coalitions were sometimes forged across languages.

Local government is administered by 6 regional councils, and there are municipal councils in the 2 urban areas of Port Vila and Luganville. Authority over matters of tradition is held by malvatumauri (national council of chiefs) who are elected by district councils. These chiefs usually represent land-holding groups. As in many parts of Melanesia, they do not necessarily gain their position by inheritance but rather through skill in achieving economic and political power at the local level.

There is no corporate or personal income tax in Vanuatu. Import taxes accounted for 66 percent of all tax revenues in the country in 1997. There are also export tariffs that account for most of the other tax revenues. Application for membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) means that in the future, these trade taxes will have to be progressively reduced. This means other types of tax may have to be imposed, according to David Ambrose and Savenaca Siwatibau in the Pacific Economic Bulletin.

Communications
Country Telephones a Telephones, Mobile/Cellular a Radio Stations a Radios a TV Stations a Televisions a Internet Service Providers c Internet Users c
Vanuatu 4,000 (1996) 154 (1996) AM 2; FM 2; shortwave 1 62,000 1 2,000 1 3,000
United States 194 M 69.209 M (1998) AM 4,762; FM 5,542; shortwave 18 575 M 1,500 219 M 7,800 148 M
Philippines 1.9 M 1.959 M (1998) AM 366; FM 290; shortwave 3 (1999) 11.5 M 31 3.7 M 33 500,000
Solomon Islands 8,000 658 AM 3; FM 0; shortwave 0 57,000 0 3,000 1 3,000
aData is for 1997 unless otherwise noted.
bData is for 1998 unless otherwise noted.
cData is for 2000 unless otherwise noted.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [Online].

INFRASTRUCTURE, POWER, AND COMMUNICATIONS

Because of the numerous islands in the country, the main internal transport linkages are by sea and air. The islands are served by a number of government and private passenger and cargo ships, although they do not usually run on a schedule and are not much cheaper than flying. International sea linkages are well served by shipping lines from Australia, New Zealand, and Asia. However, because Vanuatu is a flag of convenience registry, there were 78 vessels (some very large) from 15 different countries registered in Vanuatu in 1998. Most of these are not seen in Vanuatu waters.

Internal air services are provided by the government-owned Vanair, which flies to 29 destinations within the country. International air services link neighboring Pacific states including Fiji, New Caledonia, and Solomon Islands and most longer distance air linkages are routed through Brisbane, Australia, and Nadi, Fiji. The national airline Air Vanuatu flies to Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Auckland, and Nadi. Within the country there are 32 airports, 2 of which have paved runways, but nearly all international traffic is channeled through Port Vila.

Electricity is mainly concentrated in the towns and is generated exclusively using imported fuels. Similarly, telephone services are mainly available in towns, and communication with rural areas is generally by 2-way radio or radio bulletins on the government-owned radio station.

ECONOMIC SECTORS

In 1999, agriculture contributed 25.7 percent of Vanuatu's gross domestic product (GDP), while industry made up 14.0 percent and services contributed 60.4 percent of GDP. Some value is attributed to subsistence agriculture in the statistics for agriculture, and other significant contributors are copra production and beef production. Industry is mostly made up of small-scale manufacturing and construction. The large proportion of GDP that derives from services can be attributed to government employment, especially in education, as well as the tourism industry and offshore banking facilities. The only data available about the labor force in Vanuatu are from the 1989 census, and these are quite different from the GDP data (and 10 years older). Since the subsistence sector is such an important element in the economy, it was decided by Vanuatu's statistics department that "labor force" should include all workers, whether they were working for cash or not. Thus, the statistics show that about 75 percent of the labor force in 1989 was in agriculture, and this percentage includes all of those growing their own food for consumption as well as those selling crops and those working for wages on a plantation. Industry accounted for only 1.3 percent of the labor force, and services 23.9 percent; however, nearly all of those in industry and services were in the formal sector. Also, it is likely that these proportions will have increased during the 1990s, even when the subsistence component is included.

AGRICULTURE

The most recent economic data available show that agriculture, forestry and fishing contributed 25.7 percent of Vanuatu's GDP in 1999. Although a further breakdown is not available from that year, data from 1995 shows that subsistence agriculture made up about a third of this sector, forestry and logging another third, and the rest made up of commercial agriculture, particularly copra production and beef production.

According to the Asian Development Bank, agriculture is more important to the Vanuatu economy than it is to any other Pacific economy, since it does not have the mineral and forestry resources of Papua New Guinea or Solomon Islands, the manufacturing base of Fiji, the marine resources of Micronesia, or the remittances of Polynesia. Throughout Vanuatu, subsistence agriculture is the mainstay of the village economy, since 80 percent of the population lives in villages. Food crops produced include taro, yams, kumara (sweet potato), bananas, coconut, and a great range of fruit and vegetables.

The most important agricultural product, in terms of cash production in the villages and in terms of export, is copra. This is the dried flesh of coconuts, produced by individual households and on large-scale plantations. Production of copra is highly variable year to year depending on weather conditions and world prices, although a general downward trend in production is noticeable since the early 1980s. One explanation is that the price in real terms paid to producers has declined over this period.

In recent decades there has been an attempt to diversify the rural economy away from coconuts to a variety of crops. Much effort went into the promotion of cocoa during the 1980s, but this was not very successful. By the late 1990s, cocoa exports were still only a small fraction of the value of exported coconut products. There has also been considerable promotion of coffee, but this too has not been very successful.

After copra, the second most important agricultural product by value is beef. Vanuatu is the only significant beef exporter in the Pacific, and this accounted for about 10 percent of all exports by value in the late 1990s. Cattle are often raised under coconut trees and serve both as a source of income and as a means of keeping plantations clear of weeds. The main export markets for beef have been Japan and the neighboring countries of Melanesia.

Two other crops that have increased in value recently are kava and squash. Kava, which is made into a drink that induces relaxation and mild euphoria, is a traditional crop that has recently been commercialized. The establishment of kava bars in the towns has accelerated since the 1980s, and in the 1990s kava was being exported around the world, where it can often be found in drugstores. The success of Tonga in securing a niche in the Japanese squash market caused other Pacific nations to look at this as a potential new crop. Vanuatu was one of the first to start squash production, but it is too early to determine whether this will be a successful case of agricultural diversification.

Logging in Vanuatu has never been on the scale seen in the neighboring countries of Solomon Islands or Papua New Guinea. Nevertheless, in 1997 and 1998, timber was the second most important export by value, after copra. The logging industry has maintained a relatively small but steady rate of production for many years, and involves both foreign companies and village-based sawmills. A ban on the exports of whole logs was implemented in 1989. Although temporarily lifted in 1993, the ban has been quite successful in adding value to the industry within the country by generating jobs in sawmilling and related activities.

Fish are an important food source in most parts of Vanuatu. However, commercial exploitation of fish is much less than in neighboring countries, considering the large area of ocean within Vanuatu's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Fishing fleets based in the country in the 1960s and 1970s ceased operations in the 1980s after considerable losses. Thus, fish are not a significant source of export income. Vanuatu does, however, receive some income from royalties paid by offshore fleets fishing within its EEZ, especially Taiwanese and American. The catches of these offshore fleets are landed mainly in Fiji and American Samoa, so relatively little employment is generated within Vanuatu from these activities.

INDUSTRY

In 1999, industry made up 14 percent of GDP. Data from 4 years earlier showed that construction contributed about 48 percent of this sector. This contribution, however, varies considerably from year to year depending on new developments in the tourist sector and in private industry. Manufacturing made up 39 percent of the industry sector, and its contribution has been steady and slowly growing.

There was a manganese mine operating on the island of Efate in the 1960s and 1970s, but currently there is no significant mineral production. Nevertheless, there is much interest in the mineral possibilities of the country, since Vanuatu is similar geologically to Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, where gold and other minerals are currently being mined. In the mid-1990s, Australian aid allowed a countrywide survey of mineral potential, and following this, a number of exploration licenses were taken out by private companies.

Manufacturing is a relatively minor industry in Vanuatu, although in the late 1990s it contributed just over 5 percent of GDP. The most important manufacturing enterprises cater for the local market in areas such as food processing (especially meat), wood processing and construction materials. Most of the manufacturing is located in the capital, Port Vila, although small operations such as production of soap from coconut oil take place elsewhere. The growth of tourism has encouraged the production of traditional handicrafts.

SERVICES

The services sector is the largest broad economic sector in the Vanuatu economy, contributing 60.4 percent of GDP in 1999. The makeup of this sector is suggested by data from 1995, which showed that the most important service subsectors, in order, were wholesale and retail trade, government services, transport, storage and communication, finance and insurance, real estate, and hotels and restaurants. Although the last of these subsectors is mostly generated by tourism, a considerable amount of the income generated in other subsectors also relates to tourism. Specific amounts were not available.

The sector that is often thought to have the greater future potential in the Pacific is tourism, and it has been heavily promoted in Vanuatu in recent years. Visitor arrivals have doubled in the 2 decades since independence in 1980, rising from about 25,000 per year at that time to about 50,000 in the late 1990s. Tourism in Vanuatu is still a small industry compared to Fiji, but larger than neighboring Solomon Islands. The majority of tourists (about 60 percent) come from Australia, with smaller numbers from New Zealand and New Caledonia. So far, relatively few have come from the largest potential markets of Japan, North America, and Europe.

Tourism is largely focussed on the capital, Port Vila, on the island of Efate. There are several international standard hotels in Port Vila, but in the rest of the country tourist facilities are rare, despite the great potential of some islands. With over 100 indigenous cultural groups, one of the main attractions of Vanuatu is its cultural diversity, represented in different housing styles, dances, and art-forms, especially carvings. There are also the typical Pacific attractions of beaches, diving and a tropical climate.

The national airline Air Vanuatu links Port Vila to Noumea, Brisbane, Sydney, Auckland, Nadi and Honiara, and other airlines serve the capital as well, including Air Pacific, Aircalin (New Caledonia) and Solomon Airlines.

Vanuatu is one of several tax havens in the South Pacific. The Offshore Financial Centre (OFC) was established in 1971 and has been maintained since independence. This provides a tax haven for offshore banks, trust companies, insurance companies, and shipping companies. It has been estimated that the OFC employs about 400 people. OFC pays registration fees to the government, which contribute about 2.5 percent of the overall gross domestic product, according to Ambrose and Siwatibau. Local banking services are provided by the National Bank of Vanuatu, ANZ (Australia New Zealand) Bank, Bank of Hawaii, and Westpac.

Like many Pacific countries, retail services are somewhat limited. In Port Vila there are medium-sized shops and supermarkets, but in most of the country there are only small shops with a very limited range of goods.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

Vanuatu has a large imbalance in trade, with imports exceeding exports by 3 or 4 times. This imbalance is made up for by income from tourism, tax haven revenue, and international aid.

Copra has dominated Vanuatu's exports for many years; it made up 45 percent of all exports in the years 1995 to 1998. In those years, beef and timber were almost as equally important as each other, making up about

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Vanuatu
Exports Imports
1975 .012 .040
1980 .036 .073
1985 .031 .070
1990 .019 .096
1995 .028 .095
1998 N/A N/A
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

12 percent each, while cocoa made up about 5 percent of all exports. For copra, timber, and cocoa, the processing countries of these products are significant; the 3 most important export destinations were Japan, Belgium, and Germany. Beef was mostly exported to the nearby countries of New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, and Fiji, and to more distant Japan.

The most important imports into Vanuatu are machines and transport equipment, foodstuffs, basic manufactures, and fuels. Japan is the most important source of imports, accounting for about half of these in value. Australia is the next major source of imports, especially for food and certain types of manufactures, followed by United States, Singapore, and New Zealand.

MONEY

In the period since 1982, the vatu has declined in value against the American dollar by about 40 percent. However, this is not as great a relative decline as experienced in many other Pacific countries. This may be because, despite a negative balance of trade, Vanuatu has a reasonably consistent source of foreign revenue coming from tourism and its tax haven activities. Also, the vatu is pegged against a group of currencies, and although these currencies are secret, it is believed that the most important are the Australian and U.S. dollars, with smaller weight given to the Japanese yen and French franc, according to the Asian Development Bank.

Exchange rates: Vanuatu
vatu (VT) per US$1
Dec 2000 143.95
2000 137.82
1999 129.08
1998 127.52
1997 115.87
1996 111.72
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

The Reserve Bank of Vanuatu has the usual functions of a central bank, including regulating the money supply, providing economic advice to the government, and general economic monitoring.

POVERTY AND WEALTH

A total of 174 countries are ranked in the United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) Human Development Report 2000 according to the Human Development Indicator (HDI), which measures a country's state of well-being using income, education, and health measures. The HDI rank for Vanuatu was 118, meaning that it was better off than many African countries, but was the third poorest country in the Pacific. GDP per capita in 1998 was US$1403, nearly twice as much as neighboring Solomon Islands but only about one-twentieth that of the United States.

While there is no adequate information on income distribution, partly because subsistence income is hard to measure, there is evidence that there are varying levels of well-being within the country. Another indicator developed by UNDP is the Human Poverty Index (HPI). It measures conditions for those worst off in a country, such as their health status, education level, access to health services, access to safe water, and malnutrition in children. While to a traveler in Vanuatu there appears to be a kind of "subsistence affluence" in most areas, the HPI suggests that Vanuatu is still a poor country, with the third lowest HPI in the Pacific, at a level similar to that of many of the poorest African countries. For example, illiteracy is estimated at 66 percent, about 23 percent of children under 5 are underweight, and about 20 percent of the population does not have access to adequate health services, according to the UNDP. However, since there is no poverty index in Vanuatu, it is not possible to determine how many people or households can be considered to be poor. The government has many different programs underway to try to overcome some of these problems, and often these are funded by international aid, especially in the areas of education and health.

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Vanuatu N/A 1,426 1,672 1,596 1,403
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Philippines 974 1,166 967 1,064 1,092
Solomon Islands 419 583 666 784 753
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

WORKING CONDITIONS

The situation of the labor force is difficult to determine, due to a lack of recent data. Using Vanuatu's definition of labor force, the bulk of the adult population is said to be in the labor force, with most of these being involved in village agriculture. Most of those working in the wage and salary economy are located in Port Vila or Luganville, the 2 largest urban centers. At the time of the last census, the unemployment rate was calculated to be only 1 percent, although there appeared to be a great deal of underemployment involving people who were working only part time. As in most Pacific island nations, there is no unemployment benefit. The minimum wage was set at 16,000 vatu (US$140) per month in 1995, and this applied to both rural and urban employment. Earlier minimum wage levels had been lower in the rural sector, and it was felt by some that the rural minimum was above market rates and would inhibit job creation, according to the Asian Development Bank.

Workers in the formal sector are represented by at least 16 trade unions, generally organized according to industrial sector, but coordinated by the Vanuatu Council of Trade Unions.

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 explorersmost commonly British and Frenchvisit 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.

FUTURE TRENDS

In the late 1990s, much attention was being paid to the political struggles pitting one party against another. However, the party disputes tended to be based on regional and language interests rather than fundamental differences of opinion on economic policy. There was not much dynamism in the economy, with agricultural production and tourist numbers being relatively stable. In the future, the greatest hope appears to be held for tourism, since the country has many undeveloped possibilities. There is some potential for expansion in other sectors; for example, some localization in the fishing industry is possible, although these possibilities will depend to a great extent on a higher degree of political stability than has been seen recently. In terms of the development of human resources, especially in education and health, there will be an ongoing dependence on international aid.

DEPENDENCIES

Vanuatu has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Ambrose, David, and Savenaca Siwatibau. "Recent Development in Vanuatu." Pacific Economic Bulletin. Vol. 12, No. 1, 1997.

Asian Development Bank. Vanuatu: Economic Performance, Policy and Reform Issues. Manila: Asian Development Bank, 1997.

Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Vanuatu. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2001.

"Key Indicators for Developing Asian and Pacific Countries." Asian Development Bank. <http://www.adb.org/Vanuatu>. Accessed February 2001.

United Nations Development Programme, Pacific Human Development Report 1999: Creating Opportunities. Suva: United Nations Development Programme, 1999.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2000. <http:// www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html>. Accessed August 2001.

Wardlow Friesen

CAPITAL:

Port Vila.

MONETARY UNIT:

Vatu (VT). There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 vatu and notes of 500, 1,000 and 5,000 vatu. One vatu equals 100 centimes, although there are no centime coins still in circulation.

CHIEF EXPORTS:

Copra, beef, cocoa, coffee, timber, kava, squash.

CHIEF IMPORTS:

Food, machinery and equipment, fuels.

GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT:

US$245 million (1999 est.).

BALANCE OF TRADE:

Exports: US$33.8 million (1998 est.). Imports: US$76.2 million (1998 est.).

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Vanuatu

VANUATU

Republic of Vanuatu

Major City:
Port-Vila

INTRODUCTION

VANUATU is probably best known to Americans as the setting for James Michener's 1947 novel Tales of the South Pacific that was later made into a musical, but the islands have a long history and a diverse population. Human habitation of the Vanuatu island group may have begun as far back as 4,000 years ago. In 1606, the Portuguese were the first Europeans to discover the island group. Europeans did not return until 1768, and in 1774 the British Captain James Cook named the islands the New Hebrides. During the 1860s, planters in Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, and the Samoa Islands encouraged long-term indentured labor of the islanders, a term called "black-birding." Missionaries and settlers then came. A mixture of French and British interests in the islands brought a unique form of government where France and the United Kingdom jointly administered the islands from 1906 until the arrival of Americans in World War II. Indigenous political activity developed in the post-war years. In early 1980, several northern islands seceded before the upcoming fixed date for independence that year. On July 30, 1980, New Hebrides became the independent Republic of Vanuatu. The new government restored order and arrested the secessionists, who had been secretly supported by France.

MAJOR CITY

Port-Vila

Port-Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, is located on the island of Efate, the most populous island. The capital is perched on the sides of steep hills along the shores of a horseshoe bay. The town was little more than a row of warehouses along a dirt path until the 1890s, when drought and malaria caused the island's population to relocate its business district from Havannah Harbour. Port-Vila was made the seat of government in 1906. During the 1920s, Port-Vila had a reputation of being a wild frontier town, complete with drunken brawls, gambling, and sporadic gunfights and public executions. During the 1930s, the town was an enclave for the resident Europeans, and Ni-Vanuatu residents were only permitted to live there if they had employment in the town.

Port-Vila has a population of 23,000. In February 1987, a cyclone damaged 95% of the buildings in Port-Vila. Bauerfeld, on Efate, and Pekoa, on Espiritu Santo, are the main airfields. Port-Vila and Luganville are the principal seaports. Agriculture and services account for most of the domestic economy. There is high-grade manganese ore on Efaté, but it is not currently mined. Tourism is regarded as a secondary part of the economy, and has developed since the 1980s. The country's Financial Centre, a tax haven created by the British in 1971, is the third-largest source of the national government's revenue. Its creation was the catalyst for an increase in construction in Port-Vila area during the 1970sa new wharf significantly increased cruise ship traffic.

Clothing

Though most Ni-Vanuatu wear Western style clothing, there may be special circumstances within small communities of natives.

For instance, the chief of the small Paama Island community (about 600 people) in the capital of Port Vila has recently banned women from wearing pants, saying that such clothing is an unwelcome Western influence. The all male, honorary police force of the community will uphold the ban. However, there has been no indication, as of yet, that non-Paama women will be cited for wearing pants.

Recreation and Entertainment

Tennis and golf are sports that are popular around Port-Vila. Tennis matches on the international circuit are occasionally held in Vanuatu. Korman Stadium was built for the 4th South Pacific Mini Games that were held in Port-Vila in December 1993. Basketball, boxing, volleyball, and soccer are played there. Netball, handball, squash, and rugby are also played in town. Scuba diving and snorkeling are popular tourist activities, and there are several shipwreck dive sites near Port-Vila.

Port-Vila's panorama, tropical flora, and historic French persuasion make it one of the South Pacific's most picturesque cities. The central business district is concentrated in a half-mile strip along Kumel Highway that follows the waterfront's contour. An area known as Chinatown in central Port-Vila is the commercial center of the islands' Chinese merchant community. The waterfront market is the country's largest, and offers a wide variety of produce, as well as flowers, handicrafts, and artifacts. Independence Park is lined with English-style buildings and is the site of weekend cricket matches. Port-Vila's Quartier Français (French Quarter) contains several houses and the city's town hall, all built in the French colonial style.

Port-Vila has several fine restaurants encompassing Continental French, Vietnamese, and Chinese cuisine. The city also has many nakamals, or kava bars (kava is a popular beverage in the South Pacific, a mild tranquilizer made from ground pepper roots). Movie theaters and other places for nighttime entertainment are available. A new tourist attraction at Vatusala on Efatéprovides demonstrations of traditional village activities. Several islands of Vanuatu have caves decorated with ancient paintings.

A cultural center in Port-Vila has a library of both French and English books. The library's reading room contains French and English periodicals and articles on Vanuatu's history. The center also houses a collection of fine Melanesian art and artifacts. There is also a display of preserved native flora and fauna, photographs, and a collection of valuable stamps. The Michoutouchkine and Pilioko Foundation Art Gallery has a display of Pacific art, carvings, masks, prints, and embroideries.

Dancing is an important part of the traditional culture of the Ni-Vanuatu people.

COUNTRY PROFILE

Geography and Climate

Vanuatu is an irregular Y-shaped chain of 84 islands in the South Pacific Ocean, about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to Australia. The island chain extends for about 500 miles and lies 600 miles west of Fiji and 250 miles northeast of New Caledonia. The total land area of the islands is 5,699 square miles (about the size of Connecticut), with a total coastline of 1,571 miles. The largest island is Espiritu Santo (sometimes just called Santo), with an area of 1,524 square miles. The islands are of coral and volcanic origin. There are active volcanos on Ambrym, Lopevi, and Tanna. Earthquakes are common, with the most recent severe one happening in 1994. Earthquakes in 1875 and 1948 created tsunamis that wiped out entire villages. The tropical climate is moderated by southeastern trade winds, which blow from May to October. Average temperatures in Port-Vila range from 77° F in winter to 84° F in summer. Cyclones strike the islands an average of 2.5 times each year. In 1987, Cyclone Uma hit Port-Vila and caused widespread damage and many fatalities.

Population

There are approximately 193,000 inhabitants. Only 70 of the islands are inhabited. Two-thirds of Vanuatu's population live on Efate, Espiritu Santo, Malekula, and Tanna. The Ni-Vanuatu are the Melanesian inhabitants of the country, and make up about 95% of the population. Europeans (mostly French) and other Pacific Islanders account for the remainder. About 80% of the population is Christian; the largest sects are Presbyterian, Anglican, and Roman Catholic. In the 1940s, an indigenous cult became popular, especially on Tanna. There was a belief in a mythical messianic figure named John Frum, who could obtain industrial goods through magic. There are 105 languages spoken among Vanuatu's small population, some of which have never been classified. The three official languages are English, French, and Bislama (also known as pidgin English or Bichelama). A child may speak as many as four different languages, and public life is often complicated by language problems.

Government

The Anglo-French Convention of 1887 established a joint naval commission over New Hebrides (as Vanuatu was then known) to protect the lives and interests of islanders. In 1906, the Anglo-French Condominium was established. Indigenous political activity developed after World War II, with increasing concern over land alienation and European dominance. In 1975, a representative assembly replaced the nominated advisory council under which New Hebrides had been governed. Self-government was agreed upon in 1978, and independence was attained in 1980. Under the 1980 constitution, the head of state is the president; the head of government is the prime minister. The unicameral legislature consists of 50 members, elected to four-year terms by popular vote. The judicial system is based on British criminal procedure and the French penal code. The Supreme Court has a chief justice and three other judges; there is also an appeals court.

Vanuatu's flag has a red upper section and a green lower section divided horizontally by a gold stripe running within a black border and widening at the hoist into a black triangle. A pig's tusk and two crossed yellow mele leaves are depicted on the black triangle.

Arts, Science, Education

Children are instructed in either English or French during elementary school, then switch to the other language for secondary school. About 90% of Ni-Vanuatu children attend elementary school, but less than 10% go to secondary schools. Cooperative units have organized a training center at Port-Vila for such skills as accounting, management, law, and marketing. The University of the South Pacific has an annex in Port-Vila with a Pacific languages curriculum that attracts students from all over Oceania. For higher education, especially medical or technical training, selected students go to Fiji, Australia, and New Zealand.

Commerce and Industry

Subsistence farming provides a living for most of the population. Fishing and tourism are the other mainstays of the economy. Mineral deposits are negligible; the country has no known petroleum deposits, but the government is encouraging gold and copper mining. A small light industry sector caters to the local market. Offshore banking, insurance, and trusts generate a significant amount of the country's income, due to the lack of taxes, duties, and controls. The government attracts international investors through tax exemptions and the ability to repatriate funds.

Transportation

Only Port Vila and the town of Luganville, located on Espiritu Santo Island, have surfaced roads on which a speed limit of 50 kilometers an hour is enforced. Surfaced roads are two lane and can be narrow in spots; care should be taken especially when driving at night or along unfamiliar routes. The roads found in all other areas are unsurfaced and dirt tracks. Drivers on all roads should give way to traffic coming from the right. Travelers must take care when driving off main roads to avoid trespassing on communal land.

Travel between the islands is mainly done by light plane and boat. There are 31 small airfields that serve all the main islands. The chief airports are on Efate and Espiritu Santo, but these are still too small to accommodate jumbo jets, limiting the number of flights to and from the islands. Port-Vila and Luganville are the main seaports. Small ships provide interisland service. Vanuatu maintains a policy of open registry for merchant ships, allowing foreign shipowners to avoid the higher costs and regulations of registration under their own flags.

Communications

Vanuatu has an Intelsat satellite earth station that links the country to the rest of the world. Radio Vanuatu broadcasts daily in English, French, and Bislama through AM, FM, and shortwave transmissions. A single television station is also available. The weekly government newspaper is Vanuatu Weekly Hebdomadaire. The only private newspaper is the English-language Trading Post.

Health

Port-Vila and Luganville have the country's main medical facilities. There are five hospitals (with approximately 370 beds) and about 90 clinics, health centers, and dispensaries scattered throughout the islands. Vanuatu has only about 15 physicians.

Medical conditions resulting from diving accidents may require medical evacuation to Australia or New Zealand. A hyperbaric recompression chamber is located in Luganville on Espititu Santo Island.

Malaria is a significant danger in most areas. Leprosy, tuberculosis, filariasis, and venereal diseases are also medical problems in Vanuatu.

NOTES FOR TRAVELERS

Passage, Customs & Duties

A passport and onward/return ticket are required. Visas are not required for stays up to 30 days. Travelers who anticipate the possibility of transiting or visiting Australia are advised to obtain an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) or visa for Australia before leaving the United States. The ETA is available to eligible U.S. citizens at time of ticket purchase through travel agents and airlines. For more information about entry requirements, travelers, particularly those planning to enter by sailing vessel, may consult the Vanuatu Mission to the United Nations at 42 Broadway, Room No. 1200-18, New York, NY 10004; tel (212) 425-9652, fax (212) 422-3427.

.Vanuatu customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Vanuatu of items such as firearms and ammunition, sexually explicit material and certain prescription medications. Other goods may be subject to quarantine or import duty. The government of Vanuatu prohibits the export of artifacts from the Second World War without prior permission. It is advisable to contact the Vanuatu Mission to the United Nations for specific information regarding customs requirements.

There is no U.S. Embassy or diplomatic post in Vanuatu. Assistance for U.S. citizens is provided by the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, which is located on Douglas Street, adjacent to the Bank of Papua New Guinea. This address should be used for courier service deliveries. The mailing address is P.O. Box 1492, Port Moresby, N.C.D. 121, Papua New Guinea; Tel: (675) 321-1455; fax (675) 321-1593. There is a voluntary American Warden located in Port Vila who has general information and forms (such as passport application forms). The U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby can provide information on how to get in touch with the warden in Vanuatu.

Americans are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Vanuatu from the Embassy. Information can also be obtained from the homepage of the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby at http://www.altnews.com.au/usembassy.

Disaster Preparedness

Vanuatu lies in the South Pacific cyclonic trajectory, and is vulnerable to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and sudden tidal movements. The Pacific Cyclone season extends from November through March. General information regarding disaster preparedness is available via the Internet at http://travel.state.gov/crisismg.html, and from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) home page at http://www.fema.gov.

LOCAL HOLIDAYS

Jan.1 New Year's Day

Mar.(2nd Mon) Commonwealth

Day* Mar/Apr. Good Friday*

Mar/Apr. Easter*

Mar/Apr. Easter Monday*

May 1 May Day

May/June Ascension Day*

July 24 Children's Day

July 30 Independence Day

Aug.15 Feast of the Assumption

Oct. 5 Constitution Day

Nov. 29 National Unity Day

Dec. 25 Christmas

Dec. Family Day

*Variable

RECOMMENDED READING

Harcombe, David. Vanuatu: a

Travel Survival Kit. Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia: Lonely Planet Publications, 1995.

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Vanuatu

Vanuatu

Official name: Republic of Vanuatu

Area: 12,200 square kilometers (4,710 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Mount Tabwemasana (1,877 meters/6,158 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Southern and Eastern

Time zone: 11 p.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: Not available

Land boundaries: None

Coastline: 2,528 kilometers (1,570 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)

1 LOCATION AND SIZE

Vanuatu is a Y-shaped chain of more than eighty islands located northeast of Australia in the South Pacific Ocean area known as Oceania. With a total area of about 12,200 square kilometers (4,710 square miles), the country is slightly larger than the state of Connecticut. Vanuatu is divided into six provinces.

2 TERRITORIES AND DEPENDENCIES

Vanuatu has no territories or dependencies.

3 CLIMATE

Vanuatu's climate is tropical, moderated by southeast trade winds from May to September each year. It is hot, with humidity averaging 83 percent year-round. Average midday temperatures in Port-Vila range from 25°C (77°F) in winter to 29°C (84°F) in summer.

Rainfall averages about 239 centimeters (94 inches) per year, with a high of about 406 centimeters (160 inches) in the northern islands. During November to April, the islands are threatened by tropical cyclones.

4 TOPOGRAPHIC REGIONS

The entire island chain of Vanuatu is the result of active volcanism as the Australian and Pacific Tectonic Plates converge at a rate of 9 centimeters (3.5 inches) per year, uplifting Vanuatu around 4 centimeters (1.5 inches) per year. Lying along the Pacific Ring of Fire, the country has active volcanoes on Tanna, Ambrim, and Lopevi. Seventy of the eighty islands in Vanuatu are inhabited.

5 OCEANS AND SEAS

Seacoast and Undersea Features

The Pacific Ocean surrounding the islands contains many coral reefs that plunge to hundreds of meters below the surface. There are also a number of underwater volcanoes.

Islands and Archipelagos

The larger islands are of volcanic origin over-laid with limestone formations. The smaller islands are coral and limestone. The thirteen major islands are Torres Islands (Îles Torres), Bank Islands (Îles BanksMota Lava, Sola, Gaua), Espíritu Santo, Ambae, Maéwo, Pentecost, Malakula, Ambrim, Epi, Tongoa, Éfaté, Erromango, Aniwa, Tanna, Fortuna, and Aneityum. The largest islands are Espíritu Santo, Malakula, and Éfaté.

Vanuatu also makes a disputed claim on Matthew and Hunter Islands east of New Caledonia. Ownership of these would considerably extend Vanuatu's Maritime Economic Zone.

Coastal Features

The beach rock along Vanuatu's coast is an unusual aspect of the local geology. Rainfall causes the calcium carbonate from decayed shells and zooplankton skeletons to leach onto the beaches, forming a paste-like solution. When the water evaporates, the resulting calcium carbonate cements together everything it touches into large blocks of rock. As a result, the beach rock on Espíritu Santo includes large portions of sand and shells welded to the remains of World War II machinery and thousands of glass bottles.

6 INLAND LAKES

There are no major lakes on Vanuatu. Some small lakes do exist in extinct volcanic craters and other low-lying areas, however, including Lakes Manaro Ngoro, Manaro Lakua, Voui, and Siwi.

7 RIVERS AND WATERFALLS

Because the islands are generally very small, there are no rivers of significant size. Many small streams do drain the mountains, however, including the Jourdain, Sarakana, and Wamb Rivers.

8 DESERTS

There are no desert regions on Vanuatu.

DID YOU KNOW?

Oceania is a term that refers to the islands in the central and south Pacific and adjacent seas. The boundaries for the region are the Tropic of Cancer in the north and the southern tip of New Zealand.

9 FLAT AND ROLLING TERRAIN

Lowland forests cover the southeastern, or windward, sides of Vanuatu's islands. At approximately 500 meters (1,640 feet) of elevation, montane (mountain) forests begin. Hardwood forests cover 75 percent of the land area, but these woodlands are threatened by the logging industry.

10 MOUNTAINS AND VOLCANOES

Most of the islands are rugged and mountainous with cultivated narrow coastal plains. The principal peak, Mount Tabwemasana, rises to a height of 1,877 meters (6,158 feet) on Espíritu Santo. Other significant peaks include the 1,270-meter- (4,166-feet-) high Mount Maroum on Ambrim, and Mount Tukosmera, which reaches 1,084 meters (3,556 feet) on Tanna.

11 CANYONS AND CAVES

Vanuatu has a number of underwater and underground caves that have been formed as a result of volcanic activity and the erosion of limestone and ash formations. In Siviri village on the island of Éfaté, Valeafau Cave has been known to emit a mysterious phosphorous glow when village children jump up and down on the cave floor. A large number of underwater and submerged entrance caves also exist in the coral reefs surrounding the islands. Some of these caverns serve as homes to turtles and other marine life.

12 PLATEAUS AND MONOLITHS

There are no plateau regions on Vanuatu.

13 MAN-MADE FEATURES

There are no major man-made structures affecting the geography of Vanuatu.

14 FURTHER READING

Books

Bonnemaison, Joël. The Tree and the Canoe: History and Ethnogeography of Tanna. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1994.

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

Jolly, Margaret. Women of the Place: Kastom, Colonialism, and Gender in Vanuatu. Philadelphia: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1994.

Kilham, Christopher. Kava: Medicine Hunting in Paradise. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press, 1996.

Web Sites

Vanuatu Tourism: Geography. http://www.vanuatutourism.com/geography.htm (accessed May 6, 2003).

Volcano Live. http://www.volcanolive.com/contents.html (accessed May 6, 2003).

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Vanuatu

Vanuatu (vän´wätōō´), formerly New Hebrides (hĕb´rĬdēz), officially Republic of Vanuatu, independent republic (2009 pop. 243,304), c.5,700 sq mi (14,760 sq km), South Pacific, E of Australia. Vanuatu is a 450-mi (724-km) chain of 80 islands, of which the most important are Espíritu Santo (the largest), Efate, Malakula, Malo, Pentecost, and Tanna. South of Vanuatu and east of New Caledonia are the uninhabited Matthew and Hunter islands, which are claimed by both. The capital, Port Vila, is on Efate. Vanuatu's islands are forested and mountainous, formed by volcanic eruptions (and still subject to them). The highest peak (c.6,195 ft/1,890 m) is on Espiritu Santo.

People, Economy, and Government

The inhabitants are mainly Melanesians, with some Polynesians. There are more than 100 indigenous languages, but a local pidgin called Bislama or Bichelama is widely spoken. Bislama, English, and French are the official languages. The majority of the population is Christian, primarily Protestant.

The chief industries are copra production, cattle raising, and fishing, but the majority of the population depends on subsistence agriculture. Manganese mining halted in 1978, but in 2006 an agreement was signed to export manganese already mined but not yet exported. Additional revenues derive from a growing tourist industry and the development of Vila as an offshore financial center. Copra, beef, cocoa, and timber are the main exports; machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, and fuels are imported. Thailand, Japan, Australia, and Poland are the main trading partners.

Vanuatu is governed under the constitution of 1980. The president, who is head of state, is indirectly elected for a five-year term. The government is headed by the prime minister, who is elected by Parliament from among its members. Members of the 52-seat Parliament are popularly elected to serve four-year terms. Administratively, the country is divided into six provinces. Vanuatu is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.

History

Vanuatu has been inhabited since at least 1000 BC; remains of the Lapita culture from that time have been excavated. Legends dating to the 15th cent. describe a huge explosion in the South Pacific; in 1993 a scientist suggested that the Vanuatan islands of Tongoa and Epi (since separated by the island of Kuwae) were created in 1453 when a larger island was split in two by an enormous volcanic explosion. The archipelago was visited in 1606 by the Portuguese navigator Pedro Fernandez de Queiros, and in 1774 Capt. James Cook made the first systematic exploration of the islands, which became known as the New Hebrides.

English missionaries began arriving in the early 19th cent. With them came the "sandalwooders," who, once the local sources of sandalwood ran out, began kidnapping natives for the sugar and cotton plantations in Queensland, Australia. British attempts to halt the decimation of the native population met success in 1887, when the islands were placed under an Anglo-French naval commission. The commission was replaced by a condominium in 1906. During World War II the islands served as bases for Allied forces in the Pacific theater.

In 1980 the New Hebrides became independent as Vanuatu, and a secession movement on Espiritu Santo was put down with aid from Papua New Guinea and Britain. A coalition government led by Prime Minister Maxime Carlot took office in 1991. Jean-Marie Léyé was elected president in 1994. Carlot's government lost power after the 1995 general elections, but the new coalition foundered, and Corlot again was prime minister from April to September in 1996, when Serge Vohor took office. After new elections in 1998, Donald Kalpokas became prime minister, but a no-confidence motion in 1999, led to his resignation, and Barak Sopé succeeded him. Also in 1999, John Bernard Bani was elected president. Edward Natapei replaced Sopé as prime minister in 2001.

Alfred Maseng became the country's fifth president in Apr., 2004, but he was removed from office the following month. After parliamentary elections in July, Serge Vohor became prime minister for a second time, and in August, Kalkot Mataskelekele was elected president. Vohor's government fell in Dec., 2004, after government ministers resigned over actions he had taken without consulting with them; Ham Lini succeeded him.

Elections in 2008 brought a new governing coalition, with Natapei again as prime minister, into office. In 2009, Iolu Johnson Abil was elected president. Natapei was ousted in no-confidence vote in Dec., 2010, and Sato Kilman succeeded him. Kilman was ousted four months later and Vohor replaced him, but in May, 2011, the no-confidence vote was declared unconstitutional and Kilman restored to office. In June, Kilman's election also was voided. Natapei became prime minister pending a new vote, in which Kilman was reelected. Kilman remained prime minister after the 2012 elections but resigned prior to a no-confidence vote in Mar., 2013. Moana Carcasses Kalosil succeeded Kilman but was replaced in May, 2014, by Joe Natuman after a no-confidence vote; Natuman was replaced by Kilman in June, 2015, after a no-confidence vote. In Sept., 2014, Baldwin Lonsdale was elected to succeed Abil as president. A tropical cyclone devastated much of the nation in Mar., 2015.

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Vanuatu

Vanuatu

Basic Data

Official Country Name: Republic of Vanuatu
Region (Map name): Oceania
Population: 189,618
Language(s): English, French,Bislama (Bichelama)
Literacy rate: 53%

Vanuatu is a Y-shaped chain of more than 80 volcanic islands in the South Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and Australia. Seventy of the islands are inhabited, and many boast active volcanoes. Formerly called New Hebrides, Vanuatu was settled by the British and the French in the nineteenth century. In 1906, both countries agreed to a joint administration of the island, which lasted until Vanuatu declared independence in 1980. The population is approximately 190,000. English and French are the official languages, but a pidgin dialect called Bislama or Bichelama is also spoken. The literacy rate is 53 percent. A President serves as chief of state, and a Prime Minister heads the government. The legislature is a unicameral, 52-seat Parliament. Agriculture is the most important sector of the economy, involving 65 percent of the population. Also important are fishing, offshore financial services, and tourism.

The media enjoys freedom of speech and press. In January 2001, however, the editor of the country's largest independent newspaper, the weekly Vanuatu Trading Post, was deported for his investigation of an investment scandal allegedly involving top government officials. In June 2000, the Freedom Telecommunications Law ended the government's 20-year telecommunications monopoly, but the government still owns most of the country'smedia. There is no daily newspaper. In addition to theVanuatu Trading Post, the other weekly newspaper is theVanuatu Weekly/Hebdomadaire, which is sponsored bythe government. The Post publishes every Sunday in English and in French. Vanuatu Weekly/Hebdomadaire ap-pears every Saturday. It prints in English, French, and Bislama, and has a circulation of 2,000. The Port Vila Presse is a weekly online newspaper founded in 2000. Itposts news every Sunday. There are also two English-language weeklies sponsored by political parties: Golden Express and Viewpoints.

There are four radio stations, two AM and two FM,broadcasting to 62,000 radios. There is one television station broadcasting to 2,000 televisions. There is one Internet service provider.

Bibliography

"CocoNET Wireless,' The University of Queensland, Australia (1997). Available from http://www.uq.edu.au.

"Country Profile: Vanuatu," BBC News. Available fromhttp://news.bbc.co.uk.

Port Vila Presse. Home Page. Available fromwww.presse.com.

"Vanuatu," CIA World Fact Book (2001). Availablefrom http://www.cia.gov.

"Vanuatu," Freedom House (2001). Available from http://www.freedomhouse.org.

Jenny B. Davis

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Vanuatu

Vanuatu

Basic Data
Official Country Name: Republic of Vanuatu
Region: Oceania
Population: 189,618
Language(s): English, French, Bislama (Bichelama)
Literacy Rate: 53%


The Republic of Vanuatu (formerly New Hebrides) comprises approximately 70 islands in the South Pacific and is located west of Fiji. Vanuatu's population of 189,618 people (in 2001) includes 94 percent Melanesian and 4 percent French. The British and French jointly governed Vanuatu before it achieved independence in 1980. This dual governance created diverse educational systems that utilize both English and French languages; however, Bislama (the native language) is practiced in some primary schools.

The Ministry of Education administers the formal system of education, which consists of six years of primary education, four years of junior secondary education, and three years of senior secondary education. Only the first six years are compulsory, leading to an adult literacy rate of 64 percent (1995). Government expenditures on public and private education were 19.2 percent of the annual budget and 4.4 percent of the gross national product in 1990.

Students from grades one to seven attend primary school. In 1990, some 26,267 (96 percent) children in this grade range were enrolled in the 78 primary schools. The ratio of female to male teachers in primary school was 2:3. Junior secondary school includes students from grade 8 to 10 and senior secondary school includes grade 11 to 13. Only 20 to 25 percent of students graduating from primary school continue to junior secondary education. In 1990, some 3,799 (17 percent) of students in this age group were enrolled in one of the 14 secondary schools. Female to male teacher ratios were 3:7 in 1990.

A Pacific Senior Secondary Certificate will be introduced to senior secondary students (for both English-speaking and French-speaking) at grade 12. After passing the examination, students complete the last year of foundation studies before admission to the University of the South Pacific. Tertiary (higher) education requires students to go overseas as there is no university in Vanuatu.


Bibliography

International Encyclopedia of National Systems of Education, 2nd. Ed. New Jersey: Pergamon Publications, 1995.

The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2001. New York: Press Publishing Co., 2001.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Institute for Statistics, Sept 2000. Available from http://www.unesco.org/.


Kon-zue Lee and
Sanna J. Thompson

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Vanuatu

Vanuatu

Culture Name

Ni-Vanatu

Orientation

Identification. The name "Vanuatu" is an important aspect of national identity. Leaders of the Vanua'aku Party, which led the first independent government, invented the term in 1980 to replace the colonial name New Hebrides. Vanua means "land" in many of Vanuatu's one hundred five languages, and translations of the new name include "Our Land" and "Abiding Land." Culturally, Vanuatu is complex. Some of the people follow matrilineal descent rules, while others follow patrilineal rules. Leadership on some islands depends on advancement within men's societies, and in others it depends on possession of chiefly titles or personal ability. Although most people depend on subsistence farming and fishing, the economy of the seaboard differs from that of interior mountain plateaus.

Political leaders have consciously cultivated national culture to foster a national identity, including political slogans such as "Unity in Diversity." Many rural people, however, are attached primarily to their home islands, while educated urbanites, refer to supranational identities such as Melanesian.

Location and Geography. Vanuatu is a Y-shaped tropical archipelago of over eighty islands, sixty-five of which are inhabited. The Solomon Islands lie to the north, New Caledonia to the south, Fiji to the east, and the Coral Sea and Australia to the west. The mostly volcanic archipelago extends 560 miles (900 kilometers) from north to south and has an area of 5,700 square miles (14,760 square kilometers). Espiritu Santo is the largest island. Port Vila, the capital, which was also the colonial headquarters, is on the south-central island of Efate.

Demography. The 1997 population of 185,000 is 94 percent Melanesian, 4 percent European (mostly French), and 4 percent other (Vietnamese, Chinese, and other Pacific Islander).

Linguistic Affiliation. Bislama, the nation's pidgin English which emerged in the nineteenth century, is essential for public discourse. Many aspects of the national culture are phrased in Bislama, which has become an important marker of national identity. Alongside Bislama, English and French are recognized as "official languages." These languages overlie one hundred five indigenous Austronesian languages, three of which are Polynesian in origin. There are strong links between local language, place, and identity, but many people are multilingual. Most children pursue elementary schooling in English or French, although few residents are fluent in either language. Most national discourse takes place in Bislama, which is becoming creolized.

Symbolism. The politicians who forged independence emphasized shared culture (kastom ) and shared Christianity to create a national identity and iconography. The national motto is Long God Yumi Stanap ("In (or with) God We Stand/Develop"). Leaders of the Vanua'aku Party, which governed during the nation's first eleven years, came mostly from the central and northern areas. Objects selected to represent the nation come principally from those regions, including circle pig tusks, palm leaves, and carved slit gongs. The name of the national currency, the vatu ("stone") derives from central northern languages, as does the name "Vanuatu." After independence, holidays were established to celebrate the nation and promote national identity and unity.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. The New Hebrides was a unique "condominium" colony ruled jointly by Great Britain and France after 1906. Although they instituted a joint court and a few other combined services, each ran separate and parallel administrative bureaucracies, medical systems, police forces, and school systems. Competition and conflict between Anglophones and Francophones culminated in the 1970s, when both groups backed different political parties in the run-up to independence. The French had greatly expanded their educational system, leaving a legacy of Francophones who commonly find themselves opposed politically to their Anglophone compatriots.

The main parties in favor of independence in the 1970s were British-supported and Anglophone, drawing on English and Protestant roots more than on French and Roman Catholic. Still, all the citizens distinguish themselves from European colonialists as they assume their national identity. Since independence, the French have provided aid in periods when the country has been ruled by Francophone political parties. Australia and New Zealand have largely replaced British assistance and influence.

Ethnic Relations. A relatively small population of Vietnamese (which the French recruited as plantation workers beginning in the 1920s) and overseas Chinese control a significant proportion of the economies of Port Vila and Luganville. These wealthy families are linked by kinship, economic, and other relations with the majority Melanesian population.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

Vanuatu is still a rural country. Most ni-Vanuatu live on their home islands, although the population of the two towns has increased significantly since independence. Town layout and architecture reflect French and British sensibilities. A huge American military base that grew up around Luganville during the World War II still displays that heritage. Rural architecture remains largely traditional. Local notions of gender and rank influence village layout. Women's mobility is more restricted than that of men, and in many churches, men and women sit on opposite sides of a central aisle. People use "bush" materials in the construction of housing, although they also use cement brick and aluminum sheet roofing. Houses have one or two rooms for sleeping and storage. Cooking is done in fireplaces or lean-to kitchens outdoors.

After independence, the government erected several public buildings, including a national museum, the House of Parliament, and the House of Custom Chiefs. These buildings incorporate slit gongs and other architectural details that display the cultural heritage. The latter two also model the traditional nakamal (men's house or meeting ground), a ritual space where public discussion and decision making take place. In many cultures, men and occasionally women retire each evening to the nakamal to prepare and drink kava, an infusion of the pepper plant. Scores of urban kava bars have opened in Port Vila, Luganville, and government centers around the islands. Employed urbanites gather there at the end of the day, just as their rural kin congregate at nakamal on their home islands.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Ni-Vanuatu combine traditional south Pacific cuisine with introduced elements. Before contact with the West, staple foods included yam, taro, banana, coconut, sugarcane, tropical nuts, greens, pigs, fowl, and seafood. After contact, other tropical crops (manioc, plantain, sweet potato, papaya, mango) and temperate crops (cabbage, beans, corn, peppers, carrots, pumpkin) were added to the diet. Rural people typically produce most of what they eat, supplementing this with luxury foods (rice and tinned fish) purchased in stores. The urban diet relies on rice, bread, and tinned fish supplemented with rural products. Port Vila, and Luganville have restaurants that serve mostly the foreign and tourist communities.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Ceremonies typically involve an exchange of food, such as the traditional taro and yam, kava, fowl, pigs, and chicken, along with a feast. Pigs are exchanged and eaten at all important ritual occasions. The national ceremonial dish is laplap, pudding made of grated root crops or plantain mixed with coconut milk and sometimes greens and meat, wrapped in leaves, and baked for hours in a traditional earth oven. In rural areas, during the week many people rely on simple boiling to cook roots and greens. On weekends, they prepare earth ovens and bake laplap for the evening meal and a Sunday feast. The exchange, preparation, and consumption of kava are integral parts of ceremonial occasions.

Basic Economy. Most ni-Vanuatu are subsistence farmers who do cash cropping on the side. The mode of production is swidden ("slash-and burn") horticulture, with farmers clearing and then burning new forest plots each season. Vanuatu has significant economic difficulties. Transportation costs are high, the economic infrastructure is undeveloped, and cyclone damage is common. Major export crops include copra, beef, tropical woods, squash, and cacao. Vanuatu is a tax haven that earns income from company registrations and fees and an offshore shipping registry. Tourism has become a major growth area. The government remains the largest employer of wage labor, and few employment activities exist outside the towns and regional government centers.

Land Tenure and Property. After independence, all alienated plantation land reverted to the customary owners. Only citizens may own land, although they can lease it to foreigners and investors. Generally, land belongs jointly to the members of lineages or other kin groups. Men typically have greater management fights to land than do women, although women may control land, particularly in matrilineal areas.

Commercial Activities, Major Industries, and Trade. Rural families produce cash crops (coconut, cacao, coffee, and foodstuffs) for sale in local markets. The opening of urban kava bars has stimulated an internal market for kava. With the growing tourist industry, there is a small market for traditional handicrafts, including woven baskets and mats, wood cavings, and jewelry. Manufacturing and industry contribute only 5 to 9 percent of the gross domestic product, and this mostly consists of fish, beef, and wood processing for export. The major trade partners are Australia, Japan, France, New Zealand, and New Caledonia

Social Stratification

Chiefly status exists in many of the indigenous cultures, though differences between chiefly and commoner lineages are slight. Symbolically, a man and his family's possession of a title is often marked in details of dance costume, adornment, and architecture. Leadership in the north rests largely on a man's success in "graded societies" which able individuals work their way up a ladder of status grades by killing and exchanging circle-tusked pigs. In the central and southern regions, the acquisition of titles also depends on individual effort and ability. Everywhere leadership correlates with ability, gender, and age, with able, older men typically being the most influential members of their villages.

Since rural society is still rooted in subsistence agriculture, economic and political inequalities are muted. However, there is increasing economic stratification between the educated and employed, most of whom live in urban areas, and rural subsistence farmers. The middle-class elite is relatively small, and urbanites remain connected by important kin ties to their villages.

Political Life

Government. Vanuatu is a republic with a unicameral parliament with fifty seats. An electoral college elects a nonexecutive president every five years. There are six regions whose elected councils share responsibility for local governance with the national government. An elected national council of chiefs, the Malvatumaori, advises the parliament on land tenure and customs.

Leadership and Political Officials. Since independence, elected officials have mostly been educated younger men who were originally pastors and leaders of Christian churches. The elders remain in the islands, serving as village chiefs, though the country's prime ministers, presidents, and members of parliament have typically acquired honorary chiefly titles from various regions.

Social Problems and Control. The pattern of "circular migration" between rural village and urban center from the colonial era has broken down as more people have become permanent residents of Port Vila and Luganville. Many underemployed people live in periurban settlements, and urban migration has correlated with increasing rates of burglary and other property crimes. Demonstrations associated with political factions occur occasionally. The urban crime rate is very low.

An informal system of "town chiefs" supplements the state police force and judiciary. Leading elders in the towns meet to resolve disputes and punish offenders. Punishment sometimes involves the informal banishment of an accused person back to his or her home island. Unofficial settlement procedures frequently are used to handle disputes in rural areas.

Military Activity. The Vanuatu Mobile Force has been active only occasionally, mostly in international endeavors such as serving as peacekeepers.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

State and nongovernmental organizations have focused on developing economic infrastructure and public services. Most villages have no electricity, and many people lack access to piped water despite efforts to expand rural water systems. Several organizations work with rural youth and women. The National Council of Women sponsors programs to improve women's access to the cash economy and reduce domestic violence.

A number of international and nongovernmental organizations are active in Vanuatu. Many international donors are encouraging a comprehensive reform program to make government more efficient and honest and lower deficit spending.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

The principal nongovernmental organizations are the Christian churches. Religious affiliation is second in importance only to kinship and neighborhood ties. A few labor unions have attempted to organize urban and rural salaried workers (such as schoolteachers) but have not been effective in industrial action and political campaigning.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Generally, women have less control of land and other property, are less mobile, and have less of a say in marriage. In the northern region, women participate in graded societies that parallel those of men. In matrilineal regions, women have better land and sea rights. Many ni-Vanuatu continue to believe in the deleterious, polluting effects of menstrual blood and other body fluids, and men and women sleep apart during women's menstrual periods, when women often give up cooking. Both men and women farm, although men are responsible for clearing forest and brush for new garden plots. Both men and women fish and reef gather, though only men undertake deep-sea fishing. Although women have excelled in the school system, men continue to monopolize economic and political leadership positions. Few women drive cars, and only a handful have been elected to the parliament and the regional and town councils. Women do much of the work in town and roadside marketplaces.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. The marriage rate approaches 100 percent. Traditionally, leaders of kin groups arrange the marriages of their children. Marriage is an important event in ongoing exchange relations between kin groups and neighborhoods and typically involves the exchange of goods. Some educated urban residents have adopted Western notions of romantic love and arrange their own marriages with or without family approval. Marriage rules identify certain kin groups as the source of appropriate spouses. In the southern region, marriage is patterned as "sister exchange," in which a man who marries a woman from another family owes a woman in return. In some cases, this woman is an actual sister who marries one of her brother's new wife's brothers; in other cases, the woman is a classificatory sister or even a future daughter. In other areas, notable amounts of goods (bride wealth) change hands, including money, pigs, kava, mats, food, and cotton cloth. Traditionally, powerful leading men might marry polygynously, although after missionization, monogamy became the norm. There are three types of marriages: religious, civil, and "customary." Divorce rates are very low.

Domestic Unit. The nuclear family is the principal domestic unit, forming the basic household and being responsible for day-to-day economic production and consumption. Households, however, continue to rely on extended kin groups in significant ways. Most people's access to land and sea rights derives from membership in lineages and clans. People call on extended kin as a labor pool when they build new houses, clear garden land, and raise money and collect goods for family exchanges (marriage, child initiation, funerals). Residence typically is patrivirilocal. Women move to live with their new husbands, who themselves live with their fathers' families. Formerly, many men and initiated boys lived in separate men's houses; today families typically live together as one unit. Both spouses may be involved in managing family affairs; men, however, citing custom and Christian scripture, typically assert basic authority their families.

Inheritance. Except in urban areas, where inheritance is modeled on European precedent, people follow local customs. Land rights pass patrilineally or matrilineally to surviving members of kin groups. In some areas, people destroy much of dead person's goods. Surviving spouses and children inherit what is left.

Kin Groups. Families are organized into larger patrilineages or matrilineages, patricians or matriclans, and moieties. Lineages tend to be localized in one or two villages, as kin live together on or near lineage land. The membership of larger clans is dispersed across a region or island.

Socialization

Infant Care. Babies often nurse until they are three years old. Both parents are involved in child care, but siblings, especially older sisters, do much of the carrying, feeding, and amusing of infants. Babies are held by caregivers almost constantly until they can walk. Physical punishment of children is not common. Younger children may strike their older siblings, while older siblings are restrained from hitting back.

Child Rearing and Education. Many communities and ensure the growth of children through ritual initiation ceremonies that involve the exchange of pigs, mats, kava, and other goods between a child's father's and mother's families. Boys age six to twelve typically undergo circumcision as part of a ritual event.

Most children receive several years of primary education in English or French. Many walk to the nearest school or board there during the week. Less than 10 percent of children go on to attend one of the twenty-seven secondary schools.

Higher Education. Tertiary education includes a teachers' training college, an agricultural school, several church seminaries, and a branch of the University of the South Pacific in Port Vila. A few students pursue university education abroad. The adult literacy rate has been estimated at 55 to 70 percent.

Etiquette

Customary relationships are lubricated by the exchange of goods, and visitors often receive food and other gifts that should be reciprocated. Lines in rural stores are often amorphous, but clerks commonly serve overseas visitors first. People passing on the trails or streets commonly greet one another, and the handshake is an important aspect of initial encounters. A woman traveling alone through the countryside may receive unwelcome attention from men.

Religion

Religious Beliefs. Most families have been Christian since the late nineteenth century. The largest denominations are Presbyterian, Anglican, Roman Catholic, Seventh-Day Adventist, and Church of Christ. Baha'i and Mormon missionaries have attracted local followings. Some people reject Christianity and retain traditional religious practices. Others belong to syncretic religious organizations that mix Christianity and local belief. Nearly everyone maintains firm beliefs in the power and presence of ancestral spirits.

Religious Practitioners. Christian priests, ministers, pastors, and deacons lead weekly services and conduct marriages and funerals. A number of people are recognized as clairvoyants and diviners, working sometimes within and sometimes outside the Christian churches. These people, who are often women, divine the causes of disease and other misfortunes, locate lost objects, and sometimes undertake antisorcery campaigns to uncover poesen (sorcery paraphernalia) hidden in a village. Other people specialize in rain, wind, earthquake, tidal wave, and other sorts of magical practice. Many ni-Vanuatu also suspect the existence of sorcerers.

Rituals and Holy Places. Ni-Vanuatu celebrate the Christian calendar, particularly the Christmas and New Year's season, which they call Bonane.At the year's end, urbanites return to their home islands. In villages, people form choruses and visit neighboring hamlets to perform religious and secular songs.

Ni-Vanuatu continue to celebrate traditional holidays. In many places, islanders organize first-fruit celebrations, particularly for the annual yam crop. The most spectacular celebration is the "land jump" on southern Pentecost Island. Tourists sometimes attend other traditional rites, such the dancing and feasting that accompany male initiation and grade-taking ceremonies in many of the cultures and the Toka (or Nakwiari ), a large-scale exchange of pigs and kava celebrated with two days of dancing.

Every community recognizes important places associated with ancestral and other spirits. These "taboo places" may be mountain peaks, offshore reef formations, or rocky outcroppings. People avoid these locations or treat them with respect.

Death and the Afterlife. Nearly all families turn to Christian funerary ritual to bury their dead. Ancestral ghosts continue to haunt their descendants. Many people experience their spiritual presence and receive their advice in dreams.

Medicine and Health Care

The national health service emerged from the separate French and British colonial systems. Most sick people turn initially to local diviners and healers who determine whether the source of disease is supernatural or natural and concoct medicines. Folk pharmacology includes hundreds of medical recipes, mostly infusions of leaves and other plant material.

Secular Celebrations

In addition to Independence Day (30 July), Constitution Day (5 October), and Unity Day (29 November), the government has established Family Day (26 December) and Custom Chiefs Day (5 March). Organized and impromptu sports matches are popular, as are money-raising carnivals, agricultural fairs, and arts festivals.

The Arts and Humanities

Literature. Although nineteenth-century missionaries created orthographies and dictionaries for some of the languages, indigenous literature is mostly oral. Ni-Vanuatu appreciate oratory and storytelling and have large archives of oral tales, myths, and legends. Since independence, an orthography committee has attempted to standardize Bislama spelling. Publications mostly consist of biblical material and newspapers, newsletters, and pamphlets. Writers working in English or French have published poems and short stories, particularly at the University of the South Pacific.

Graphic Arts. The tourist industry supports an active cottage handicraft and carving industry, including woven baskets and dyed mats, bark skirts, penis wrappers, miniature slit-gongs and other carvings, shell jewelry, bamboo flutes and panpipes. A few art galleries in Port Vila sell the work of local artists.

Performance Arts. The string band is the preeminent musical genre. Hundreds of bands perform at village dances and weddings, and their music has been important in the emergence of a national culture. Young musicians sing of local and national issues in local languages and Bislama. Popularized on cassette tapes or broadcast on the two radio stations, some of those songs have become national standards. Many bands travel to Port Vila in June to compete in an annual competition. Small community theater organizations whose dramas often address national issues perform in Port Vila, and occasionally tour the hinterlands.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

Several international research associations, such as France's ORSTOM, have studied agriculture, volcanism, geology, geography, and marine biology in Vanuatu. A local amateur society, the Vanuatu Natural Science Society, emphasizes ornithology. The University of the South Pacific Centre in Port Vila houses that university's Pacific languages unit and law school. The Vanuatu Cultural Center supports a succesful local fieldwork program in which men and women are trained to study and document anthropological and linguistic information.

Bibliography

Allen, Michael, ed. Vanuatu: Politics, Economics and Ritual in Island Melanesia, 1981.

Bonnemaison, Joël. The Tree and the Canoe: History and Ethnography of Tanna, 1994.

, Kirk Huffman, Christian Kaufmann, and Darrell Tryon, eds. Arts of Vanuatu, 1996.

Coiffier, Christine. Traditional Architecture in Vanuatu, 1988.

Crowley, Terry. Beach-La-Mar to Bislama: The Emergence of a National Language in Vanuatu, 1991.

Foster, Robert J., ed. Nation Making: Emergent Identities in Postcolonial Melanesia, 1995.

Haberkorn, Gerald. Port Vila: Transit Station or Final Stop?, 1989.

Jolly, Margaret. Women of the Place: Kastom, Colonialism and Gender in Vanuatu, 1994.

Lindstrom, Lamont. Knowledge and Power in a South Pacific Society, 1990.

Lini, Walter. Beyond Pandemonium: From the New Hebrides to Vanuatu, 1980.

McClancy, Jeremy. To Kill a Bird with Two Stones: A Short History of Vanuatu, 1980.

Miles, William F. S. Bridging Mental Boundaries in a Postcolonial Microcosm: Identity and Development in Vanuatu, 1998.

Rodman, Margaret C. Masters of Tradition: Consequences of Customary Land Tenure in Longana, Vanuatu, 1987.

Van Trease, Howard, ed. Melanesian Politics: Stael Blong Vanuatu, 1995.

Weightman, Barry. Agriculture in Vanuatu: A Historical Review, 1989.

Lamont Lindstrom

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Vanuatu

Vanuatu Volcanic island group in the sw Pacific Ocean, c.2300km (1430mi) e of Australia. The group consists of 13 large islands and 70 islets, the majority of them mountainous, which form a chain c.725km (450mi) in length. The main islands are Espiritu Santo, Efate (which has the capital Vila, 2002 pop. 33,900), Malekula, Pentecost, Malo, and Tanna. Discovered in 1606 by Pedro Fernandez de Queiros, the English and French settled the group in the early 1800s. Governed jointly by France and Britain as the New Hebrides from 1906, the islands became a republic in 1980. Industries: fishing, farming, mining. Copra accounts for almost half of export earnings. Area: 12,190sq km (4707sq mi). Pop. (2000) 206,000.

http://www.vanuatu.net.vu

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Vanuatu

Vanuatu, an independent republic in the Commonwealth, was formerly the islands of the New Hebrides, so named by Cook. They lie 1,000 miles east of Australia and have a population, largely Melanesian, of about 160,000. Their main support is agriculture (cocoa, coffee, and copra), fishing, and tourism. From 1906 they were under a condominium run by France and Britain, but became independent in 1980.

J. A. Cannon

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VANUATU

VANUATU. A country of Oceania and member of the COMMONWEALTH, consisting of twelve main islands and 70 islets. Languages: English, FRENCH, BISLAMA (all official), and ethnic languages. Until 1980 known as the New Hebrides, jointly administered since the late 19c by Britain and France. See BEACH LA MAR, MELANESIAN PIDGIN ENGLISH.

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Vanuatu

Vanuatu

NI-VANUATU 159

Nearly 95 percent of the total population of Vanuatu is of Melanesian origin. Minority groups include Europeans (mostly French) and other Pacific Islanders.

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Vanuatu

VanuatuBantu, stand-to •Manawatu, Vanuatu •passe-partout • gentoo • lean-to •pistou •into, thereinto •manitou • onto • Motu •Basotho, Hutu, Lesotho, Mobutu, Sotho, tutu •hereunto, thereunto, unto •surtout

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Vanuatu

Vanuatu

PROFILE
GEOGRAPHY
PEOPLE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-VANUATU RELATIONS
TRAVEL

Compiled from the October 2007 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:

Republic of Vanuatu

PROFILE

Geography

Area: Land—12,190 sq. km. (4,707 sq. mi.), 83 Islands. Comparative area—about the size of Connecticut.

Cities: Capital—Port Vila (on the island of Efate), pop. 33,700. Other towns—Luganville (on the island of Espiritu Santo, also known as Santo).

Terrain: Mostly mountains of volcanic origin, narrow coastal plains.

Climate: Tropical.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—ni-Vanuatu.

Population: (2006) 221,506.

Annual growth rate: (2005 est.) 2.2%.

Ethnic groups: 94% ni-Vanuatu; 4% European; 2% other Pacific Islanders, Asian.

Religions: Predominantly Christian.

Languages: Bislama (Pidgin), English, French, over 100 tribal languages.

Education: Enrollment in primary is 100% with rapid fall-off to 20% in secondary and upper secondary. Adult literacy rate (2005)—74% of those age 15 and older.

Health: Infant mortality rate (2005)—55.1/1,000. Life expectancy (2005)—62.5 yrs.

Work force: (1999) 134,000. Agriculture—65%. Industry—5%. Service—30%.

Government

Type: Parliamentary democracy.

Independence: July 30, 1980.

Constitution: July 30, 1980.

Government branches: Executive—president (head of state), prime minister (head of government). Legislative—unicameral (52-member parliament). Judicial—Supreme Court.

Political subdivisions: 6 administrative districts.

Political parties: Melanesian Progressive Party (MPP); Union of Moderate Parties (UMP); National United Party (NUP); Vanua’aku Party (VP); Vanuatu Republican Party (VRP); the Confederation of Greens (CG); John Frum group; People's Progressive Party (PPP); National Community Association (NCA).

Suffrage: Universal over 18.

Independence: July 30.

Economy

GDP: (2005) $343.6 million.

Per capita income: (2005) $1,576.

Real growth rate: (2005) 3.1%.

Avg. inflation rate: (2005) 2.6%.

Natural resources: Forests, agricultural land, marine resources.

Agriculture: Products—copra, cocoa, coffee, cattle, timber.

Industry: Types—copra production, beef processing, sawmilling, tourism, financial services.

Trade: (2003) Exports—$135.27 million: coconut oil, copra, kava, beef. Major markets—EU 44.9%, Australia 12.1%, Japan 6.8%, New Caledonia 4.6%. Imports—$181.4 million: machines and transport equipment, food and live animals, basic manufactures, mineral fuels. Major suppliers—Australia 42.5%, New Zealand 13.0%, Fiji 8.6%, Singapore 6.2%.

Exchange rate: (2005 avg.) 109.25 vatu=U.S.$1.

GEOGRAPHY

Vanuatu is a ‘Y’ shaped archipelago of 83 islands. It is located about 1,750 kilometers east of Australia. Fiji lies to the east, New Caledonia to the south, and the Solomon Islands to the northwest, all within the area of the South Pacific called Melanesia.

The two largest islands, Espiritu Santo (or Santo) and Malakula, account for nearly one-half of the total land area. They are volcanic, with sharp mountain peaks, plateaus, and lowlands. The larger islands of the remaining half also are volcanic but are overlaid with limestone formations; the smaller ones are coral and limestone. Volcanic activity is common with an ever-present danger of a major eruption, the last of which occurred in 1945. Rainfall averages about 2,360 millimeters (94 in.) per year but can be as high as 4,000 millimeters (160 in.) in the northern islands.

PEOPLE

The population of Vanuatu is 94% indigenous Melanesian. About 33,700 live in the capital, Port Vila. Another 10,700 live in Luganville (or Santo Town) on Espiritu Santo. The remainder live in rural areas. Approximately 2,000 ni-Vanuatu live and work in New Caledonia. Although local pidgin, called Bislama, is the national language, English and French also are official languages. Indigenous Melanesians speak 105 local languages.

Christianity has had a profound influence on ni-Vanuatu society, and an estimated 90% of the population is affiliated with one of the Christian denominations. The largest denominations are Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, and Anglican. John Frum, a syncretic sect, also is important on Tanna Island.

HISTORY

The prehistory of Vanuatu is obscure; archaeological evidence supports the commonly held theory that peoples speaking Austronesian languages first came to the islands some 4,000 years ago. Pottery fragments have been found dating back to 1300-1100 B.C.

The first island in the Vanuatu group discovered by Europeans was Espir-itu Santo, when in 1606 the Portuguese explorer, Pedro Fernandez De Quiros, spied what he thought was a southern continent. Europeans did not return until 1768, when Louis Antoine de Bougainville rediscovered the islands. In 1774, Captain Cook

named the islands the New Hebrides, a name that lasted until independence.

In 1825, trader Peter Dillon's discovery of sandalwood on the island of Erromango began a rush that ended in 1830 after a clash between immigrant Polynesian workers and indigenous Melanesians. During the 1860s, planters in Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, and the Samoa Islands, in need of laborers, encouraged a long-term indentured labor trade called “blackbirding.” At the height of the labor trade, more than one-half the adult male population of several of the Islands worked abroad. Fragmentary evidence indicates that the current population of Vanuatu is greatly reduced compared to pre-contact times.

It was at this time that missionaries, both Catholic and Protestant, arrived on the islands. Settlers also came, looking for land on which to establish cotton plantations. When international cotton prices collapsed, they switched to coffee, cocoa, bananas, and, most successfully, coconuts. Initially, British subjects from Australia made up the majority, but the establishment of the Caledonian Company of the New Hebrides in 1882 soon tipped the balance in favor of French subjects. By the turn of the century, the French outnumbered the British two to one.

The jumbling of French and British interests in the islands brought petitions for one or another of the two powers to annex the territory. In 1906, however, France and the United Kingdom agreed to administer the islands jointly. Called the British-French Condominium, it was a unique form of government, with separate governmental systems that came together only in a joint court. Melanesians were barred from acquiring the citizenship of either power.

Challenges to this form of government began in the early 1940s. The arrival of Americans during World War II, with their informal demeanor and relative wealth, was instrumental in the rise of nationalism in the islands. The belief in a mythical messianic figure named John Frum was the basis for an indigenous cargo cult (a movement attempting to obtain industrial goods through magic) promising Melanesian deliverance. Today, John Frum is both a religion and a political party with a member in Parliament.

The first political party was established in the early 1970s and originally was called the New Hebrides National Party. One of the founders was Father Walter Lini, who later became Prime Minister. Renamed the Vanua-aku Pati in 1974, the party pushed for independence; in 1980, the Republic of Vanuatu was created.

GOVERNMENT

The constitution created a republican political system headed by a president who has primarily ceremonial powers and is elected by a two-thirds majority in an electoral college consisting of members of Parliament and the presidents of Regional Councils. The president serves a 5-year term. The president may be removed by the Electoral College for gross misconduct or incapacity. The prime minister, who is the head of government, is elected by a majority vote of a three-fourths quorum of the Parliament. The prime minister in turn appoints the Council of Ministers, whose number may not exceed one-fourth of the number of parliamentary representatives. The prime minister and the Council of Ministers constitute the executive government.

Parliament is a 52-member unicameral house elected by all persons over 18 years old. Parliament normally sits for a 4-year term unless dissolved by majority vote of a three-fourths quorum or a directive from the president on the advice of the prime minister. The national Council of Chiefs, called the Malvatu Mauri and elected by district councils of chiefs, advises the government on all matters concerning ni-Vanuatu culture and language.

The Supreme Court consists of a chief justice and up to three other judges. Two or more members of this court may constitute a Court of Appeal. Magistrate courts handle most routine legal matters. The legal system is based on British law. The constitution also provides for the establishment of village or island courts presided over by chiefs to deal with questions of customary law.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 2/1/2008

President: Kalkot Matas KELEKELE

Prime Minister: Ham LINI

Dep. Prime Min.: Sato KILMAN

Min. of Agriculture, Forestry, & Fisheries: Barak SOPE Ma’au Tamate

Min. of the Comprehensive Reform Program: Isabelle DONALD

Min. of Education: Joseph NATUMAN

Min. of Finance & Economic Development: Moana CARCASSES

Min. of Foreign Affairs: Sato KILMAN

Min. of Health: Morkin Iatika STEVENS

Min. of Internal Affairs: Georges Andre WELLS

Min. of Lands, Geology, & Mines: Willie Jimmy TAPANGARARUA

Min. of Ni-Vanuatu Business Development: Joshua KALSAKAU

Min. of Public Utilities: Edward NATAPEI

Min. of Trade, Commerce, & Industries: James BULE

Min. of Youth & Sports: Arnold PRASAD

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York:

Vanuatu does not have an embassy in Washington. Its mission to the United Nations is located at 866 UN Plaza, 4th Floor, Room 41, First Avenue and 48th Street, New York, NY 10017. Vanuatu Maritime Services, which provides information on ship registration in Vanuatu, is located at 120 Broadway, Suite 1743, New York, NY 10271.

POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Government and society in Vanuatu tend to divide along linguistic—French and English—lines. Historically, English-speaking politicians such as Walter Lini and other leaders of the Vanua’aku Pati favored early independence, whereas French-speaking political leaders favored continuing association with the colonial administrators, particularly France.

On the eve of independence in 1980, Jimmy Stevens’ Nagriamel movement, in alliance with private French interests and backed by American libertarians hoping to establish a tax-free haven, declared the island of Espiritu Santo independent of the new government. Following independence, Vanuatu requested assistance from Papua New Guinea, whose forces restored order on Santo. From then until 1991, the Vanua’aku Pati and its predominantly English-speaking leadership controlled the Vanuatu Government, and Walter Lini became widely considered as the nation's founding father.

In December 1991, and following a split in the Vanua′aku Pati, Maxime Carlot Korman, leader of the Francophone Union of Moderate Parties (UMP), was elected Vanuatu's first Francophone prime minister. He formed a coalition government with Walter Lini's breakaway VP faction, now named the National United Party (NUP). From 1995-2004 government leadership changed frequently due to unstable coalitions within the Parliament and within the major parties.

The president dissolved Parliament in May 2004 to forestall a vote of no confidence and called a special election that resulted in losses for most major parties. UMP's leader, Serge Vohor, returned as Prime Minister at the head of an unwieldy coalition government. Following controversy over Vohor's attempt to extend diplomatic relations to Taiwan, he was ousted by a vote of no confidence in December 2004 and replaced by Ham Lini, brother of Walter Lini. The new coalition includes ten parties and features the former opposition leader, Sato Kilman, as Deputy Prime Minister/ Foreign Minister.

ECONOMY

Vanuatu's economy is primarily agricultural; 80% of the population is engaged in agricultural activities that range from subsistence farming to smallholder farming of coconuts and other cash crops. Copra is by far the most important cash crop (making up more than 35% of the country's exports), followed by timber, beef, and cocoa. Kava root extract exports also have become important. In addition, the government has maintained Vanuatu's preindependence status as a tax haven and international off-shore financial center. About 2,000 registered institutions offer a wide range of offshore banking, investment, legal, accounting, and insurance and trust-company services. Vanuatu also maintains an international shipping register in New York City. In 2002, following increasing international concern over money laundering, Vanuatu increased oversight and reporting requirements for its off-shore sector.

Coconut oil, copra, kava and beef account for more than 75% of Vanuatu's total agricultural exports and agriculture accounts for approximately 20% of GDP. Tourism is Vanuatu's fastest-growing sector, having comprised 40% of GDP in 2000. Industry's portion of GDP declined from 15% to 10% between 1990 and 2000. Government consumption accounted for about 27% of GDP.

Vanuatu is a small country, with only a few commodities, mostly agricultural, produced for export. In 2003, imports exceeded exports by a ratio of nearly 3 to 2. However, this was partially offset by high services income from tourism, keeping the current account balance at $-28.4 million. Vanuatu claims an exclusive economic zone of 680,000 square kilometers and possesses substantial marine resources. Currently, only a limited number of ni-Vanuatu are involved in fishing, while foreign fleets exploit this potential.

In 1997 the government, with the aid of the Asian Development Bank, committed itself to a 3-year comprehensive reform program. During the first year of the program the government adopted a value-added tax, consolidated and reformed government-owned banks, and started a 10% downsizing in the public service. An important part of the reform installed career civil servants as Director Generals in charge of each ministry, helping to ensure continuity of service despite the frequent changes in government.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Vanuatu maintains relations with more than 65 countries, including Russia, the People's Republic of China, Cuba, and Vietnam. However, only Australia, France, New Zealand, and the People's Republic of China maintain embassies, high commissions, or missions in Port Vila.

The government's main concern has been to bolster the economy. In keeping with its need for financial assistance, Vanuatu has joined the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Agence de Cooperation Cul-turelle et Technique.

The government encourages private enterprise, foreign investment, and producer cooperatives. Like other developing countries, Vanuatu is particularly interested in enterprises that add value to local primary products and that provide employment. In less lucrative sectors, the government sets up its own production companies or enters joint ventures with foreign investors.

Since 1980, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, and New Zealand have provided the bulk of Vanuatu's development aid. A number of other countries, including Japan, Canada, Germany, and various multilateral organizations, such as the Economic and Social Council for Asia and the Pacific, the UN Development Program, the Asian Development Bank, the European Economic Community, and the Commonwealth Development Corporation also provide developmental aid. The United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Japan also send volunteers. In March 2006 the United States Millennium Challenge Corporation signed a five-year $65.69 million Compact agreement with Vanuatu. Vanuatu retains strong economic and cultural ties to Australia, New Zealand, and France.

Membership in International Organizations

Vanuatu is a member of the United Nations and its specialized and related agencies, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund; Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC); Pacific Islands Forum (PIF); Non-Aligned Movement; Commonwealth, Group of 77; and Asian Development Bank (ADB).

U.S.-VANUATU RELATIONS

The United States and Vanuatu established diplomatic relations in 1986. Between 1977 and 1987, Vanuatu received just under $3 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), including projects focusing on assisting the transition to indigenous plantation management. In June 1994, the regional USAID office located in Suva, Fiji, was closed due to U.S. Government budgetary cutbacks. The U.S. military retains training links and conducts ad hoc assistance projects in Vanuatu.

In March 2006 the United States Millennium Challenge Corporation signed a five-year $65.69 million Compact agreement with Vanuatu. The Millennium Challenge Program is expected to increase average income per capita by 15% within five years and directly impact the lives of more than 65,000 of the rural poor in Vanuatu.

Vanuatu identified costly and unreliable transportation infrastructure as a major impediment to economic growth. To overcome this constraint, the Compact consists of up to eleven infrastructure projects—including roads, wharfs, an airstrip and warehouses—that will help poor, rural agricultural producers and providers of tourist related goods and services reduce transportation costs and improve access to transportation services. The Compact also includes institutional strengthening efforts and policy reform initiatives in Vanuatu's Public Works Department, including: provision of plant and equipment for maintenance; introduction of service performance contracts; establishment of local community maintenance schemes; and introduction of user fees.

The United States also remains a major financial contributor to international and regional organizations that assist Vanuatu, including the World Bank, UNICEF, WHO, the UN Fund for Population Activities, and the Asian Development Bank.

In 1989, the United States concluded a Peace Corps agreement with Vanuatu. The Peace Corps has met with a warm welcome there and currently has over 80 volunteers in-country. The United States also provides military training assistance.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Last Updated: 2/19/2008

AMB OMS:Christopher Call
MGT:Mike Bakalar
POL ECO:Jon Ward
AMB:Leslie Rowe
CON:Ed Fajardo
DCM:Thomas Weinz
COM:Jon Ward
GSO:Chris Beenhouwer
RSO:Bernard Nixon
AFSA:Chris Beenhouwer
CLO:Irene Weinz
IMO:Bill Hamer
ISS:Bill Hamer

PORT MORESBY (E) (Papua New Guinea) Douglas Street, P.O. Box 1492, NCD Port Moresby, 675-321-1455, Fax 675-320-0637, INMARSAT Tel 011-872-1534721, Workweek: 7:45am -4:30pm, Website: http://Portmoresby.usembassy.gov.

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

January 8, 2008

Country Description: Vanuatu consists of more than 80 islands in a Y-shaped archipelago, 1300 miles northeast of Sydney, Australia. It is an independent parliamentary democracy and a member of the British Commonwealth, with a primarily agricultural economy. Tourist facilities are limited outside the capital, Port Vila, which is located on the Island of Efate. The National Tourism Office of Vanuatu can be contacted at PO Box 209, Port Vila, Vanuatu, telephone (678) 22515, 22685, 22813, fax (678) 23889, e-mail: [email protected]

Entry Requirements: A valid passport, and onward/return ticket and proof of sufficient funds are required. Visas are not required for stays up to 30 days. For further information on entry requirements, particularly those planning to enter by a sailing vessel, please contact the Vanuatu Mission to the United Nations at 42 Broadway, Suite 1200-18, New York, NY 10004, tel. (212) 425-9600, fax (212) 425-9652, e-mail: [email protected] attglobal.net.

Travelers who plan to transit or visit Australia must enter with an Australian visa or, if eligible, through Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). The ETA replaces a visa and allows a stay of up to three months. It may be obtained for a small service fee at http://www.eta.immi.gov.au. Airlines and many travel agents in the United States are also able to issue ETA's. Travelers may obtain more information about the ETA and Australian entry requirements from the Australian Embassy at 1601 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036, tel. (202) 797-3000, or via the Australian Embassy's web site at http://www.austemb.org.

Safety and Security: Civil disorder is rare; however, U.S. citizens are advised to avoid public demonstrations and/or political rallies if they occur. For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs’ web site at http://travel.state.gov, where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, as well as the Worldwide Caution, can be found

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada, or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except for U.S. federal holidays).

Crime: Although violent crime is extremely rare in Vanuatu, burglary reports have been on the rise. Tourists, therefore, should take reasonable precautions to avoid exposing themselves to undue risk. There are higher risks for women of being a victim of sexual assault or harassment in Vanuatu, so it is therefore advisable that women travelers not travel alone.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby for assistance. The Embassy staff can assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends, and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney, if needed.

Natural Disasters: Vanuatu is prone to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, sudden tidal movements, tropical storms, and cyclones. The Pacific cyclone season lasts from November through April. While local media and hotels will convey cyclone alerts issued by local authorities. Detailed weather information is published by Météo-France in New Caledonia at http://www.meteo.nc/, the Fiji Meteorological Service at http://www.meteo.nc/ and the Naval Pacific Meteorology and Oceanography Center at https://metocph.nmci.navy.mil/jtwc.php.

Volcanoes/Earthquakes: Vanuatu has many active volcanoes whose risk levels can change on a daily basis. Travelers to areas where there are volcanoes can contact the Department of Geology and Mines at 22423 to obtain information about the activity of a volcano. Detailed information about earthquakes is available from the National Earthquake Information Center of the United States Geological Survey at http://earthquake.usgs.gov/regional/neic. The country is situated in an active seismic zone and earthquakes are relatively common, sometimes followed by tsunamis.

You should contact the Vanuatu Tourism Office prior to traveling to areas where volcanic activity may occur. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical facilities are limited. The nearest reliable medical treatment is in Australia or New Zealand. There are two hyperbaric recompression chambers in Vanuatu; one in Luganville, on Espiritu Santo Island, and the other in Port Vila. Please note, however, that diving-related injuries may require medical evacuation to Australia or New Zealand. There is a paramedic service in Vanuatu called ProMedical, which is manned by Australian and New Zealand personnel. They also handle any medical evacuations. Malaria is prevalent in some areas. Serious injuries requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States or elsewhere can cost thousands of dollars). Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for their services.

Pharmacies in Vanuatu are found only in urban centers and at missionary clinics. They are small and may be inadequately stocked. Travelers should bring adequate supplies of their medications for their stay in Vanuatu.

Travelers who anticipate the possible need for medical treatment in Australia should obtain entry permission for Australia in advance. Entry permission for Australian can be granted by the Australian High Commissio in Port Vila, but it may be easier to obtain a visa or ETA prior to leaving the United States.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's web site at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web site at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith/en.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Vanuatu is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Vehicular traffic in Vanuatu moves on the right. Travel on highways out-side of major towns can be hazardous. Drivers and passengers are advised to wear seatbelts. There is no country-wide road network; roads are generally in poor repair. Vanuatu is a chain of islands and atolls; most long-distance travel is by air or sea. Only the capital city of Port Vila (on Efate Island) and the town of Luganville (on Espiritu Santo Island) have consistently paved roads, which have a maximum speed limit of 50 kilometers per hour. These paved roads can be quite narrow in spots; drivers should take care especially at night or along unfamiliar routes. The roads in all other areas are mostly unpaved or dirt tracks. Drivers on all roads should give way to traffic coming from the right, and to traffic coming from the left at a round-about. Travelers must take care when driving off main roads to avoid trespassing on communal land.

For specific information concerning Vanuatu driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the National Tourism Office of Vanuatu or the Vanuatu Mission to the United Nations at [email protected]

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Vanuatu, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Vanuatu's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's web site at http://www.faa.gov.

Special Circumstances: Vanuatu and Australian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Vanuatu of items such as firearms, certain prescription drugs, wooden artifacts, exotic animals, food, and sexually explicit material. Other products may be subject to quarantine. It is advisable to contact the Vanuatu Mission to the United Nations at 42 Broadway, Suite 1200 18, New York, NY 10004, tel. (212) 425-9600, fax (212) 425-9652, e-mail: [email protected], and the Australian Embassy for specific information regarding customs requirements.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship is readily available.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Vanuatu's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession of, use of, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Vanuatu are strict and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Registration and Embassy Locations: The U.S. Embassy in Papua New Guinea provides primary assistance for U.S. citizens in Vanuatu. The Embassy is located on Douglas Street, adjacent to the Bank of Papua New Guinea, in Port Moresby. Use that address for courier service deliveries. The mailing address is PO Box 1492, Port Moresby, N.C.D. 121, Papua New Guinea; the telephone number is (675) 321-1455; after hours duty officer telephone number is (675) 683-7943; Fax (675) 321-1593. American citizens may submit consular inquiries via e-mail to [email protected] Other inquires may be e-mailed to our Virtual Embassy Officer (VEO) at [email protected] For additional information, and to download forms, please refer to our virtual embassy at www.usvpp-vanuatu.org.

Americans living or traveling in Vanuatu are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby through the State Department's travel registration web site, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Vanuatu. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the Embassy. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.

International Adoption

September 2006

The information in this section has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Patterns of Immigration: Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics indicate that only one orphan from Vanuatu has received an adoption-based immigrant visa within the past five years.

Adoption Authority: Vanuatu courts oversee the adoption system. The court system may be reached by phone at (678) 22420.

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: Prospective adoptive parents must be 18 years of age or older and can be either single or married. Although there are no income requirements, prospective adoptive parents must satisfy the Vanuatu courts that they are financially secure.

Residency Requirements: Although prospective adoptive parents do not need to be permanent residents of Vanuatu, they must remain in Vanuatu for the three-to-four-month period it takes for an adoption to be finalized.

Time Frame: Per above, the estimated time for an adoption to be processed is about 3 to 4 months.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: There are no adoption agencies in Vanuatu. However, American prospective adoptive parents may still wish to enlist the services of an American adoption agency to assist them with the overall intercountry adoption process.

Adoption Fees: American prospective adoptive parents should expect to pay less than $100 in Vanuatu government fees related to processing an adoption. It may or may not be necessary for prospective parents to pay additional fees to lawyers, depending on the services rendered.

Adoption Procedures: Applications for adoption are obtained from and must be submitted when completed to the Courthouse in Port Vila (Vanuatu's capital). The mailing address is as follows:

Courthouse in Port Vila, Private Mail Bag 9041, Port Vila, Vanuatu, Telephone—(678) 22420.

Required Documents: When submitted to the Vanuatu court, the adoption dossier must contain:

  • A completed adoption application;
  • Child's birth certificate;
  • Bank statements for the prospective adoptive parents; and
  • Prospective adopting parents’ marriage license (or proof of single status).

Vanuatu Mission to the United Nations
42 Broadway,
Suite 1200-18,
New York, NY 10004,
Tel. (212) 425-9600,
Fax (212) 425-9652,
E-mail: [email protected]

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adopting parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

U.S. Embassy, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Douglas Street,
P.O. Box 1492,
Port Moresby, N.C.D. 121,
Papua New Guinea
Telephone—(675) 321-1455;
Fax—(675) 321-1593.
E-mail—[email protected]

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in Vanuatu or immigrant visas for adopted children from Vanuatu may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Papua New Guinea at the address, phone number and e-mail address listed above. General questions regarding intercountry adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

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Vanuatu

Vanuatu

Vanuatu, which assumed this name at independence in 1980, had been known during the previous seventy-four years of colonial administration as the New Hebrides. An archipelago lying within a region of the South Pacific known as Melanesia, only about one-quarter of Vanuatu's eighty-three islands are inhabited. Although the nation's total population is only about 200,000, linguists credit Vanuatu with the greatest number of languages per capita. (A type of pidgin English, called Bislama, serves as lingua franca and the nation's national language.)

Vanuatu's major resources are coconuts, processed and exported as coco and copra (dried coconut meat from which coconut oil is extracted), as well as timber and livestock. The largest importers of these products are Belgium, Chile, and Germany. Vanuatu's tropical island locus makes it a destination for approximately fifty thousand tourists a year, mostly from Australia. Tourism is consequently a major revenue earner, as is Vanuatu's status as an offshore financial center.

Vanuatu is unique in the annals of colonial history. As a condominium under joint sovereignty by two nations, administration of the territory and inhabitants of the New Hebrides was shared by France and Britain. The land was not divided into French and British zones, nor were indigenous islanders (unlike European and Australian settlers) subjects of either the British Crown or the French Republic. Rather, three distinct sets of government operated simultaneously (and often competitively): the British Residency, the French Residency, and the Joint (or Condominial) Administration. Competition was more prevalent than coordination and cooperation.

For example, health, education, and policing systems were established separately by the British and French. The two even released separate sets of weights and measures, stamps, and currency. Certain services were conducted jointly as part of the condominium (e.g., transportation, communications, agriculture, and livestock). Most distinctive was the Joint Court, responsible for dispensing justice for the stateless New Hebrideans. (Nonindigenes were subject, according to their own choice, to either French or British law.)

Greater than the rivalry between the national residencies in Vanuatu was that between missionary churches (Catholic and various Protestant). By competing for the souls of the otherwise animistic Melanesians, the churches indirectly fostered linguistic and political cleavages among the population. Mission schools became the prime venue for formation of the two major competing camps among native New Hebrideans: Anglophone (English-speaking) Protestants and Francophone (French-speaking) Catholics.

Most proindependence leaders emerged from the ranks of Protestant-trained (and often ordained) mission graduates. Most notable was the Anglican priest Walter Lini (1942–1999), who became Vanuatu's first prime minister. Some anticolonial movements were also anti-Western or antimissionary. These included the John Frum cargo cult and the pro-"custom" Nagriamel headed by Jimmy Stevens (1926–1994). The latter spent a decade in prison for his role in an aborted secessionist campaign in the lead-up to independence.

A major challenge to Vanuatu's nationalism and development is overcoming the divisions inherited by the condominial rule, particularly that between Anglophones and Francophones. Prominent Francophone politicians include Maxime Carlot Korman (b. 1941), Jean-Marie Léyé (b. 1932), and Serge Vohor (b. 1955). Anglophone leaders who have tried to succeed the late Walter Lini are John Bani (b. 1941), Donald Kalpokas (b. 1943), and Barak Sope (b. 1951). Political parties have nevertheless created Anglophone-Francophone alliances. France's role as a regional power is periodically contested in Vanuatu's foreign policy, while Australia represents the most significant Anglophone counterweight.

see also Empire, British; Empire, French; Melanesia; Missions, in the Pacific.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Beasant, John. The Santo Rebellion, An Imperial Reckoning. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1984.

Bresnihan, Brian J., and Keith Woodward, eds. Tufala Gavman, Reminiscences from the Anglo-French Condominium of the New Hebrides. Suva, Fiji: University of the South Pacific, 2002.

Miles, William F. S. Bridging Mental Boundaries in a Postcolonial Microcosm: Identity and Development in Vanuatu. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1998.

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Vanuatu

VANUATU

Compiled from the October 2005 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Vanuatu


PROFILE

Geography

Area:

Land—12,200 sq. km. (4,707 sq. mi.), includes more than 80 Islands. Comparative area—about the size of Connecticut.

Cities:

Capital—Port Vila (on the island of Efate), pop. 30,000. Other towns—Luganville (on the island of Espiritu Santo, also known as Santo).

Terrain:

Mostly mountains of volcanic origin, narrow coastal plains.

Climate:

Tropical.

People

Nationality:

Noun and adjective—ni-Vanuatu.

Population (2005 est.):

206,000.

Annual growth rate (2003 est.):

2.7%.

Ethnic groups:

94% ni-Vanuatu; 4% European; 2% other Pacific Islanders, Asian.

Religion:

Predominantly Christian.

Language:

Bislama (Pidgin), English, French, over 100 tribal languages.

Education:

Enrollment in primary is 100% with rapid fall-off to 20% in secondary and upper secondary. Adult literacy rate (2005)—74% of those age 15 and older.

Health:

Infant mortality rate (2005)—55.1/1,000. Life expectancy (2005)—62.5 yrs.

Work force (1999):

134,000. Agriculture—65%. Industry—5%. Service—30%.

Government

Type:

Parliamentary democracy.

Independence:

July 30, 1980.

Constitution:

July 30, 1980.

Branches:

Executive—president (head of state), prime minister (head of government). Legislative—unicameral (52-member parliament). Judicial—Supreme Court.

Administrative subdivisions:

6 administrative districts.

Political parties:

Vanua'aku Pati, Union of Moderate Parties, Melanesian Progressive Party, National United Party, People's Democratic Party, John Frum.

Suffrage:

Universal over 18.

National holiday:

July 30.

Economy

GDP (2003):

$281 million.

Per capita income (2003):

$1,180.

Real Growth rate (2000):

1.6%.

Avg. inflation rate (2002):

2%.

Natural resources:

Forests, agricultural land, marine resources.

Agriculture:

Products—copra, cocoa, coffee, cattle, timber.

Industry:

Types—copra production, beef processing, sawmilling, tourism, financial services.

Trade (2003):

Exports—$92 million: cocoa, beef and veal, copra, timber, kava, coffee. Major markets—India 31.9%, Thailand 27.5%, South Korea 10.2%, Indonesia 6.1%, Australia 4.6%, Japan 4.1%, Germany 1.4%, United States 1.2%. Imports—$136 million: machines and transport equipment, foodstuffs, fuel, basic manufactures, chemicals, miscellaneous manufactures. Major suppliers—Australia 22.9%, Singapore 12.1%, New Zealand 9.9%, Fiji 7.4%, France 5.8%, India 5.5%, Japan 3.1%, U.S. 1.1%.

Official exchange rate (2003 avg.):

122 vatu=U.S.$1.


GEOGRAPHY

Vanuatu is a 'Y' shaped archipelago that comprises 80 islands. It is located 2,172 kilometers (1,303 mi.) northeast of Sydney and 5,750 kilometers (3,450 mi.) southwest of Honolulu. Fiji lies to the east, New Caledonia to the south, and the Solomon Islands to the northwest, all within the area of the South Pacific called Melanesia.

The two largest islands, Espiritu Santo (or Santo) and Malakula, account for nearly one-half of the

total land area. They are volcanic, with sharp mountain peaks, plateaus, and lowlands. The larger islands of the remaining half also are volcanic but are overlaid with limestone formations; the smaller ones are coral and limestone. Volcanic activity is common with an ever-present danger of a major eruption, the last of which occurred in 1945. Rainfall averages about 2,360 millimeters (94 in.) per year but can be as high as 4,000 millimeters (160 in.) in the northern islands.


PEOPLE

The population of Vanuatu is 94% indigenous Melanesian. About 30,000 live in the capital, Port Vila. Another 10,700 live in Luganville (or Santo Town) on Espiritu Santo. The remainder live in rural areas. Approximately 2,000 ni-Vanuatu live and work in New Caledonia. Although local pidgin, called Bislama, is the national language, English and French also are official languages. Indigenous Melanesians speak 105 local languages.

Christianity has had a profound influence on ni-Vanuatu society, and an estimated 90% of the population is affiliated with one of the Christian denominations. The largest denominations are Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, and Anglican. John Frum, a syncretic sect, also is important on Tanna Island.


HISTORY

The prehistory of Vanuatu is obscure; archaeological evidence supports the commonly held theory that peoples speaking Austronesian languages first came to the islands some 4,000 years ago. Pottery fragments have been found dating back to 1300-1100 B.C.

The first island in the Vanuatu group discovered by Europeans was Espiritu Santo, when in 1606 the Portuguese explorer, Pedro Fernandez De Quiros, spied what he thought was a southern continent. Europeans did not return until 1768, when Louis Antoine de Bougainville rediscovered the islands. In 1774, Captain Cook named the islands the New Hebrides, a name that lasted until independence.

In 1825, trader Peter Dillon's discovery of sandalwood on the island of Erromango began a rush that ended in 1830 after a clash between immigrant Polynesian workers and indigenous Melanesians. During the 1860s, planters in Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, and the Samoa Islands, in need of laborers, encouraged a long-term indentured labor trade called "blackbirding." At the height of the labor trade, more than one-half the adult male population of several of the Islands worked abroad. Fragmentary evidence indicates that the current population of Vanuatu is greatly reduced compared to pre-contact times.

It was at this time that missionaries, both Catholic and Protestant, arrived on the islands. Settlers also came, looking for land on which to establish cotton plantations. When international cotton prices collapsed, they switched to coffee, cocoa, bananas, and, most successfully, coconuts. Initially, British subjects from Australia made up the majority, but the establishment of the Caledonian Company of the New Hebrides in 1882 soon tipped the balance in favor of French subjects. By the turn of the century, the French outnumbered the British two to one.

The jumbling of French and British interests in the islands brought petitions for one or another of the two powers to annex the territory. In 1906, however, France and the United Kingdom agreed to administer the islands jointly. Called the British-French Condominium, it was a unique form of government, with separate governmental systems that came together only in a joint court. Melanesians were barred from acquiring the citizenship of either power.

Challenges to this form of government began in the early 1940s. The arrival of Americans during World War II, with their informal demeanor and relative wealth, was instrumental in the rise of nationalism in the islands. The belief in a mythical messianic figure named John Frum was the basis for an indigenous cargo cult (a movement attempting to obtain industrial goods through magic) promising Melanesian deliverance. Today, John Frum is both a religion and a political party with a member in Parliament.

The first political party was established in the early 1970s and originally was called the New Hebrides National Party. One of the founders was Father Walter Lini, who later became Prime Minister. Renamed the Vanua'aku Pati in 1974, the party pushed for independence; in 1980, the Republic of Vanuatu was created.


GOVERNMENT

The constitution created a republican political system headed by a president who has primarily ceremonial powers and is elected by a two-thirds majority in an electoral college consisting of members of Parliament and the presidents of Regional Councils. The president serves a 5-year term. The president may be removed by the electoral college for gross misconduct or incapacity. The prime minister, who is the head of government, is elected by a majority vote of a three-fourths quorum of the Parliament. The prime minister in turn appoints the Council of Ministers, whose number may not exceed one-fourth of the number of parliamentary representatives. The prime minister and the Council of Ministers constitute the executive government.

Parliament is a 52-member unicameral house elected by all persons over 18 years old. Parliament normally sits for a 4-year term unless dissolved by majority vote of a three-fourths quorum or a directive from the president on the advice of the prime minister. The national Council of Chiefs, called the Malvatu Mauri and elected by district councils of chiefs, advises the government on all matters concerning ni-Vanuatu culture and language.

The Supreme Court consists of a chief justice and up to three other judges. Two or more members of this court may constitute a Court of Appeal. Magistrate courts handle most routine legal matters. The legal system is based on British law. The constitution also provides for the establishment of village or island courts presided over by chiefs to deal with questions of customary law.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 7/19/2005

President: Kalkot Matas KELEKELE
Prime Minister: Ham LINI
Dep. Prime Min.: Sato KILMAN
Min. of Agriculture, Forestry, & Fisheries: Barak SOPE Ma'au Tamate
Min. of the Comprehensive Reform Program: Isabelle DONALD
Min. of Education: Joseph NATUMAN
Min. of Finance & Economic Development: Moana CARCASSES
Min. of Foreign Affairs: Sato KILMAN
Min. of Health: Morkin Iatika STEVENS
Min. of Internal Affairs: Georges Andre WELLS
Min. of Lands, Geology, & Mines: Willie Jimmy TAPANGARARUA
Min. of Ni-Vanuatu Business Development: Joshua KALSAKAU
Min. of Public Utilities: Edward NATAPEI
Min. of Trade, Commerce, & Industries: James BULE
Min. of Youth & Sports: Arnold PRASAD
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Alfred Rolland CARLOT

Vanuatu does not have an embassy in Washington. Its mission to the United Nations is located at 866 UN Plaza, 4th Floor, Room 41, First Avenue and 48th Street, New York, NY 10017. Vanuatu Maritime Services, which provides information on ship registration in Vanuatu, is located at 120 Broadway, Suite 1743, New York, NY 10271.


POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Government and society in Vanuatu tend to divide along linguistic—French and English—lines. Historically, English-speaking politicians such as Walter Lini and other leaders of the Vanua'aku Pati favored early independence, whereas French-speaking political leaders favored continuing association with the colonial administrators, particularly France.

On the eve of independence in 1980, Jimmy Stevens' Nagriamel movement, in alliance with private French interests and backed by American libertarians hoping to establish a tax-free haven, declared the island of Espiritu Santo independent of the new government. Following independence, Vanuatu requested assistance from Papua New Guinea, whose forces restored order on Santo. From then until 1991, the Vanua'aku Pati and its predominantly English-speaking leadership controlled the Vanuatu Government, and Walter Lini became widely considered as the nation's founding father.

In December 1991, and following a split in the Vanua'aku Pati, Maxime Carlot Korman, leader of the Franco-phone Union of Moderate Parties (UMP), was elected Vanuatu's first Francophone prime minister. He formed a coalition government with Walter Lini's breakaway VP faction, now named the National United Party (NUP). From 1995-2004 government leadership changed frequently thanks to unstable coalitions within the Parliament and within the major parties.

The president dissolved Parliament in May 2004 to forestall a vote of no confidence and called a special election that resulted in losses for most major parties. UMP's leader, Serge Vohor, returned as Prime Minister at the head of an unwieldy coalition government. Following controversy over Vohor's attempt to extend diplomatic relations to Taiwan, he was ousted by a vote of no confidence in December 2004 and replaced by Ham Lini, brother of Walter Lini. The new coalition includes ten parties and features the former opposition leader, Sato Kilman, as Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister.


ECONOMY

Vanuatu's economy is primarily agricultural; 80% of the population is engaged in agricultural activities that range from subsistence farming to smallholder farming of coconuts and other cash crops. Copra is by far the most important cash crop (making up more than 35% of the country's exports), followed by timber, beef, and cocoa. Kava root extract exports also have become important. In addition, the government has maintained Vanuatu's preindependence status as a tax haven and international off-shore financial center. About 2,000 registered institutions offer a wide range of offshore banking, investment, legal, accounting, and insurance and trust-company services. Vanuatu also maintains an international shipping register in New York City. In 2002, following increasing international concern over the potential for money laundering, Vanuatu increased oversight and reporting requirements for its off-shore sector.

Copra, cocoa, kava and beef account for more than 60% of Vanuatu's total exports by value and agriculture accounts for approximately 20% of GDP. Tourism is Vanuatu's fastestgrowing sector, having comprised 40% of GDP in 2000. Industry's portion of GDP declined from 15% to 10% between 1990 and 2000. Government consumption accounted for about 27% of GDP.

Vanuatu is a small country, with only a few commodities, mostly agricultural, produced for export. In 2000, imports exceeded exports by a ratio of nearly 4 to 1. However, this was offset by high services income from tourism, which kept the current account balance fairly even.

Vanuatu claims an exclusive economic zone of 680,000 square kilometers and possesses substantial marine resources. Currently, only a limited number of ni-Vanuatu are involved in fishing, while foreign fleets exploit this potential.

In 1997 the government, with the aid of the Asian Development Bank, committed itself to a 3-year comprehensive reform program. During the first year of the program the government adopted a value-added tax, consolidated and reformed governmentowned banks, and started a 10% downsizing in the public service. An important part of the reform installed career civil servants as Director Generals in charge of each ministry, helping to ensure continuity of service despite the frequent changes in government.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Vanuatu maintains relations with more than 65 countries, including Russia, the People's Republic of China, Cuba, and Vietnam. However, only Australia, France, New Zealand, and the People's Republic of China maintain embassies, high commissions, or missions in Port Vila.

The government's main concern has been to bolster the economy. In keeping with its need for financial assistance, Vanuatu has joined the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Agence de Cooperation Culturelle et Technique. The United States' Millennium Challenge Corporation is currently negotiating with Vanuatu on a possible assistance program.

The government encourages private enterprise, foreign investment, and producer cooperatives. Like other developing countries, Vanuatu is particularly interested in enterprises that add value to local primary products and that provide employment. In less lucrative sectors, the government sets up its own production companies or enters joint ventures with foreign investors.

Since 1980, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, and New Zealand have provided the bulk of Vanuatu's development aid. A number of other countries, including Japan, Canada, Germany, and various multilateral organizations, such as the Economic and Social Council for Asia and the Pacific, the UN Development Program, the Asian Development Bank, the European Economic Community, and the Commonwealth Development Corporation also provide developmental aid. The United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Japan also send volunteers.

Vanuatu retains strong economic and cultural ties to Australia, New Zealand, and France. Australia now provides the bulk of external assistance, including to the police force, which has a paramilitary wing.

Membership in International Organizations

Vanuatu is a member of the United Nations and its specialized and related agencies, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund; South Pacific Commission; South Pacific Forum; Non-Aligned Movement; Commonwealth, Group of 77; and Asian Development Bank (ADB).


U.S.-VANUATU RELATIONS

The United States and Vanuatu established diplomatic relations in 1986. Between 1977 and 1987, Vanuatu received just under $3 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), including projects focusing on assisting the transition to indigenous plantation management. In June 1994, the regional USAID office located in Suva, Fiji, was closed due to U.S. Government budgetary cutbacks. The U.S. military retains training links and conducts ad hoc assistance projects in the island. However, the United States remains a major financial contributor to international and regional organizations that assist Vanuatu, including the World Bank, UNICEF, WHO, the UN Fund for Population Activities, and the Asian Development Bank.

In 1989, the United States concluded a Peace Corps agreement with Vanuatu. The Peace Corps has met with a warm welcome there and currently has about 82 volunteers in-country. The United States also provides military training assistance to the police force.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

PORT MORESBY (E) Address: Douglas Street, P.O. Box 1492, NCD Port Moresby; Phone: 675-321-1455; Fax: 675-320-0637; INMARSAT Tel: 011-872-1534721; Workweek: 7:45am-4:30pm.

AMB:Robert Fitts
AMB OMS:VACANT
DCM:Thomas Niblock
MGT:Margaret L. Genco
AFSA:Guy Margalith
CLO:Angela M. Niblock
ECO/COM:Eric Catalfamo
GSO:Guy Margalith
IPO:Ken Kobilarcik
ISSO:Ken Kobilarcik
RSO:A.D. Aderinto
Last Updated: 10/4/2004

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

October 13, 2005

Country Description:

Vanuatu consists of 80 islands in a Y-shaped archipelago, 1300 miles northeast of Sydney, Australia. It is an independent parliamentary democracy and a member of the British Commonwealth, with a primarily agricultural economy. Tourist facilities are limited outside the capital, Port Vila, which is located on the Island of Efate. The National Tourism Office of Vanuatu can be contacted at P.O. Box 209, Port Vila, Vanuatu, telephone (678) 22515, 22685, 22813, fax (678) 23889, e-mail: [email protected]

Entry/Exit Requirements:

A valid passport, and onward/return ticket and proof of sufficient funds are required. Visas are not required for stays up to 30 days. For further information on entry requirements, particularly those planning to enter by a sailing vessel, please contact the Vanuatu Mission to the United Nations at 42 Broadway, Suite 1200-18, New York, NY 10004, tel. (212) 425-9600, fax (212) 425-9652, e-mail: [email protected] Travelers who plan to transit or visit Australia are advised to obtain an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) or visa for Australia before leaving the United States. The ETA is available to eligible U.S. citizens at the time of ticket purchase through travel agents and airlines. More information about the ETA and Australian entry requirements may be obtained from the Australian Embassy at 1601 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036, tel. (202) 797-3000, or via the Australian Embassy home page on the Internet at http://www.austemb.org/.

Safety and Security:

Civil disorder is rare; however, U.S. citizens are advised to avoid public demonstrations and/or political rallies if they occur. For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings, and Public Announcements can be found.

Crime:

Although violent crime is extremely rare in Vanuatu, burglary reports have risen recently. Tourists, therefore, should take reasonable precautions to avoid exposing themselves to undue risk.

Information for Victims of Crime:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance. For example, the Embassy staff can assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends, and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney, if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information:

Medical facilities are limited. The nearest reliable medical treatment is in Australia or New Zealand. There is a hyperbaric recompression chamber in Luganville, on Espiritu Santo Island; however, diving-related injuries may require medical evacuation to Australia or New Zealand. Malaria is prevalent in some areas. Serious injuries requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States or elsewhere can cost thousands of dollars. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for their services.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance:

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Vanuatu is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Vanuatu is a chain of islands and atolls; most long-distance travel is by air or sea. Only the capital city of Port Vila (on Efate Island) and the town of Luganville (on Espiritu Santo Island) have paved roads, which have a speed limit of 50 kilometers per hour. These paved roads can be quite narrow in spots; drivers should take care especially at night or along unfamiliar routes. The roads in all other areas are unpaved or dirt tracks. Drivers on all roads should give way to traffic coming from the right. Travelers must take care when driving off main roads to avoid trespassing on communal land.

For specific information concerning Vanuatu driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the National Tourism Office of Vanuatu or the Vanuatu Mission to the United Nations.

Aviation Safety Oversight:

As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Vanuatu, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Vanuatu's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards.

Special Circumstances:

Vanuatu customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Vanuatu of items such as firearms, certain prescription drugs, and sexually explicit material. Other products may be subject to quarantine. It is advisable to contact Vanuatu Mission to the United Nations at 42 Broadway, Suite 1200-18, New York, NY 10004, tel. (212) 425-9600, fax (212) 425-9652, e-mail: [email protected], for specific information regarding customs requirements.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship is readily available.

Disaster Preparedness:

Vanuatu is prone to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, sudden tidal movements, tropical storms, and cyclones. The Pacific cyclone season lasts from November through March. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.

Criminal Penalties:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Vanuatu's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Vanuatu are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using, or disseminating, child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues:

For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to the Internet site at http://www.travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration and Embassy Location:

The U.S. Embassy in Papua New Guinea provides primary assistance for U.S. citizens in Vanuatu. The Embassy is located on Douglas Street, adjacent to the Bank of Papua New Guinea, in Port Moresby. Use that address for courier service deliveries. The mailing address is P.O. Box 1492, Port Moresby, N.C.D. 121, Papua New Guinea; the telephone number is (675) 321-1455; after hours duty officer telephone number is (675) 683-7943; Fax (675) 321-1593. mailto: American citizens may submit consular inquiries via e-mail to [email protected] Other inquires may be e-mailed to http://PortMoresby.USEmbassy.gov. For additional information, and to download forms, please refer to the Virtual Embassy at www.usvppvanuatu.org.

Americans living or traveling in Vanuatu are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Vanuatu. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the Embassy. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. Persons who have previously registered with the Embassy are requested to re-register online to update their records.

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Vanuatu

Vanuatu

1 Location and Size

2 Topography

3 Climate

4 Plants and Animals

5 Environment

6 Population

7 Migration

8 Ethnic Groups

9 Languages

10 Religions

11 Transportation

12 History

13 Government

14 Political Parties

15 Judicial System

16 Armed Forces

17 Economy

18 Income

19 Industry

20 Labor

21 Agriculture

22 Domesticated Animals

23 Fishing

24 Forestry

25 Mining

26 Foreign Trade

27 Energy and Power

28 Social Development

29 Health

30 Housing

31 Education

32 Media

33 Tourism and Recreation

34 Famous Vanuatuans

35 Bibliography

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. vt1 = $0.00895 (or $1 = vt111.79) as of 2004.

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.

1 Location and Size

Vanuatu is an irregular, Y-shaped chain of about 80 South Pacific islands, with a total land area of about 12,200 square kilometers (4,710 square miles), slightly larger than the state of Connecticut. The total coastline is 2,528 kilometers (1,571 miles). Vanuatu and France both claim Matthew and Hunter Islands, which lie between Vanuatu and New Caledonia.

Vanuatu’s capital city, Port-Vila, is located on the island of Éfaté.

2 Topography

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, Mount Tabwemasana, on Espiritu Santo, rises 1,877 meters (6,158 feet) above sea level. The lowest point is at sea level (Pacific Ocean). The islands are generally well watered.

GEOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Geographic Features

Area: 12,200 sq km (4,710 sq mi)

Size ranking: 157 of 194

Highest elevation: 1,877 meters (6,158 feet) at Mount Tabwemasana

Lowest elevation: Sea level at the Pacific Ocean

Land Use*

Arable land: 2%

Permanent crops: 7%

Other: 91%

Weather**

Average annual precipitation: 230 centimeters (90 inches)

Average temperature in January: 29°c (84°f)

Average temperature in July: 25°c (77°f)

* Arable Land: Land used for temporary crops, like meadows for mowing or pasture, gardens, and greenhouses.

Permanent crops: Land cultivated with crops that occupy its use for long periods, such as cocoa, coffee, rubber, fruit and nut orchards, and vineyards.

Other: Any land not specified, including built-on areas, roads, and barren land.

** The measurements for precipitation and average temperatures were taken at weather stations closest to the country’s largest city.

Precipitation and average temperature can vary significantly within a country, due to factors such as latitude, altitude, coastal proximity, and wind patterns.

3 Climate

The tropical oceanic climate is moderated by southeastern trade winds, which blow between the months of May and October. Average midday temperatures in Port-Vila range from 29°c (84°f) in July to 25°c (77°f) in January. Annual rainfall on Éfaté is about 230 centimeters (90 inches). Humidity averages about 74%.

4 Plants and Animals

Despite its tropical forests, Vanuatu has a limited number of plant and animal species. There are no indigenous large mammals, poisonous snakes, or spiders. The 19 species of native reptiles include the flowerpot snake, found only on Éfaté. There are 11 species of bat (3 unique to Vanuatu) and 61 species of land and water birds. While the small Polynesian rat is thought to be indigenous, the larger species arrived with European settlers, as did domesticated hogs, dogs, and cattle.

The region is rich in sea life, with more than 4,000 species of marine mollusks. Coneshell and stonefish carry poison fatal to humans. The giant East African snail arrived only in the 1970s, but it has already spread from the Port-Vila region to Luganville.

5 Environment

Vanuatu’s population growth has caused concern for the environment in several areas. Water pollution in urban areas is a problem due to inadequate sanitation systems. The nation’s logging industry threatens the forests and contributes to the problem of soil erosion. The reefs on Vanuatu’s coasts, which are the home of the country’s marine life, are threatened by inappropriate fishing methods and siltation. As of 2006, threatened species included five types of mammals, seven species of birds, two types of reptiles, five species of fish, and ten species of plants. The estuarine crocodile, hawksbill turtle, Fiji banded iguana, and insular flying fox are threatened species.

6 Population

Estimated population in 2005 was 218,000, and the projection for 2025 is 304,000. As of 2005, the population of the capital, Port-Vila, on Éfaté, was estimated at 34,000. The population is unevenly distributed, with the vast majority living in approximately 2,000 small villages.

7 Migration

Adverse economic conditions in the past have encouraged immigration to Fiji, New Zealand, and the United States. The estimated net migration rate in 2005 was zero.

8 Ethnic Groups

Nearly 98% of the total population are of Melanesian origin. Minority ethnic groups include Europeans, mostly French (4%); and other Pacific Islanders, Chinese, and Vietnamese (2%).

9 Languages

More than 100 languages and dialects are spoken in Vanuatu. Melanesian, the principal language, is related to Fijian and New Caledonian speech. Pidgin English, known as Bislama or Bichelama, is recognized by the constitution as the lingua franca (common language) of the country, although English and French are also officially recognized languages. The national anthem is sung in Bislama, which is also used

in parliamentary debate, with the proceedings reported in English and French as well. Children often speak as many as four languages, and every aspect of public life—including education, law, and the media—is complicated by language problems.

10 Religions

A majority of the population is considered to be Christian, but other Vanuatuans follow indigenous traditional religions. The Anglican, Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic Churches began missionary work in the New Hebrides during the 19th century. More recently, the Seventh-day Adventists and other nontraditional Protestant groups have been active in mission work. Since 1940, the John Frum cargo cult has flourished, mainly on Tanna. Membership, however, is only about 5% of the population.

At last estimates, 48% of the population were Presbyterian, 15% were Catholic, 12% were Anglican, 7.6% followed indigenous beliefs, 6.2% were Seventh-day Adventist, 3.8% were members of the Church of Christ, and 15.7% were designated as other. Muslims are also active within the country.

11 Transportation

In 2002 there were 1,070 kilometers (665 miles) of roads. In 2003, there were 8,350 registered passenger cars and 4,450 registered commercial vehicles.

The chief airports are Bauerfield, on Éfaté, and Pekoa, on Espiritu Santo. Air Vanuatu, the national airline operated by Ansett Airlines of Australia, maintains regular service to Australia. In 2001 (the last year for which data was available), scheduled domestic and international flights carried 97,500 passengers. Port-Vila and Luganville are the chief seaports. As of 2005, there were 52 ships in the Vanuatuan merchant fleet, with a total capacity of 1,192,474 gross registered tons (GRT).

12 History

The British Captain James Cook discovered, named, and charted most of the southern New Hebrides Islands, as Vanuatu was known, in 1774. The next century brought British and French missionaries, planters, and traders.

A joint Anglo-French naval commission was established in 1887 to protect the lives and interests of the islanders. In 1906, the Anglo-French Condominium (joint rule by nations) was established, largely to settle land claims.

In 1975 a representative assembly replaced the nominated advisory council under which the New Hebrides had been governed. Two years later, the National Party (Vanua’aki Pati) demanded independence, and self-government was agreed on for 1978, to be followed by a 1980 referendum on independence.

In May 1980, however, a dissident French-speaking group, based on Espiritu Santo, attempted to break away and declare an independent government. This attempt was suppressed by the presence of British and French troops sent to Luganville on 24 July, although no shots were fired. The soldiers remained until Vanuatu’s formal declaration of independence on 30 July 1980. They were then replaced, at the new government’s request, by forces from Papua New Guinea, who were assisted by the local police in putting down the rebellion.

Since independence, Vanuatu has been the only South Pacific nation to follow a non-aligned foreign policy. In January 1987 it signed a controversial fishing agreement with the Soviet Union.

Kalkot Matas Kelekele was elected president in August 2004. The head of government was Prime Minister Ham Lini as of December 2004.

13 Government

Vanuatu is an independent republic within the Commonwealth of Nations. The head of state is the president; the head of government is the prime minister. The single-chamber legislature consists of 52 members elected by universal adult suffrage to 4-year terms. The cabinet is responsible to parliament, and the president is chosen by an electoral college for a five-year term. Vanuatu is divided into six provinces.

14 Political Parties

The country saw six political parties represented in parliament as of the 30 April 2002 elections: the Union of Moderate Parties (UMP); the National United Party (NUP); the Vanua’aku Party (VP); the Melanesian Progressive Party (MPP); the Vanuatu Republic Party (VRP); and the Vanuatu Green Party (VGP). Also represented in Vanuatu are the Jon Frum Movement; the Friend Melanesian Party (FMP); and the Tan Union (TU). In the July 2004 elections, the NUP took 10 seats, UMP took 8, the VP won 8, VRP 4, MPP 2, VGP 3, and other candidates held 16 seats. The next parliamentary elections were scheduled for 2008.

BIOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Name: Ham Lini

Position: Prime minister of a parliamentary republic

Took Office: 11 December 2004

Birthdate: 1951

Of interest: Ham Lini replaced Serge Vohor, after Vohor lost a vote of no-confidence. Ham Lini’s brother, Walter, is one of the founders of the modern nation of Vanuatu.

15 Judicial System

The constitution establishes a Supreme Court, with a chief justice and three other judges, as well as an appeals court. Village and island courts have jurisdiction over customary and other matters.

16 Armed Forces

Vanuatuan cadets train in Papua New Guinea for a mobile defense force under the direction of the Australian Ministry of Defense.

17 Economy

Agriculture supports about 65% of the population, but the service industry is playing an increasingly important role in the economy. Tourism has been developed since the 1980s. The absence of personal and corporate income taxes has made Vanuatu an offshore financial center. However, strong economic development is hindered by the geographic isolation of the country, its vulnerability to natural disasters, and its dependency on relatively few export commodities.

Yearly Growth Rate

This economic indicator tells by what percent the economy has increased or decreased when compared with the previous year.

18 Income

In 2005, Vanuatu’s gross domestic product (GDP) was $580 million, or about $2,900 per person. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 7% in that year. The average inflation rate in 2002 was 3.1%.

19 Industry

Industries include fish and food freezing, wood processing, and meat canning. Native crafts include basketry, canoe building, and pottery. Beer is also produced.

20 Labor

About 80% of the people are engaged in farming, either for survival or for the production of commercial crops, such as copra. As of 2002, there were approximately 25,000 wage earners.

For persons in government, port work, construction, and certain other jobs, the terms of employment, wages, and union membership are set by legislation. The nation’s first unions were formed in 1984, but by 2002 there were only 1,000 active members.

The law prohibits children under 12 years of age from working, but children between the ages of 12 and 18 may work under restricted hours and conditions. These laws are strictly enforced. In 2002, the minimum wage was $143 per month for all workers. This does not provide an adequate living, however, and most families must also engage in subsistence farming (living off the land).

21 Agriculture

About 9% of the land is cultivated. While most crops, including yams, taro, manioc, sweet potato, and breadfruit, are raised for local consumption, cash crops like copra, cocoa, and coffee have become increasingly important. Production of coconuts totaled 240,000 tons in 2004. Copra exports have been declining as a share of total exports, from 43% in 1995 to 8% in 2002. Vanuatu maintained an agricultural surplus of $2.6 million in 2004, with Bangladesh and Japan as the leading markets.

22 Domesticated Animals

Hogs and fowl form part of the village economy. Vanuatu is ideal for grazing cattle, and large numbers are raised on plantations. In 2005 there were an estimated 152,000 head of cattle in

Components of the Economy

This pie chart shows how much of the country’s economy is devoted to agriculture (including forestry, hunting, and fishing), industry, or services.

the country. The growing meat-packing industry produces frozen, chilled, and tinned beef. Production of beef totaled about 3,300 tons in 2005. The beef industry is centered on the island of Espiritu Santo. Beef is exported primarily to Japan, with a lesser amount going to New Caledonia.

23 Fishing

Fishing is currently focused on domestic consumption. Exporting fish requires a government permit. In 2003 Vanuatu’s catch was 31,394 tons. Exports totaled $1.9 million that year.

24 Forestry

About 37% of the total land area is forest or bushland. Total roundwood production in 2004 was 119,000 cubic meters (4.2 million cubic feet), with 76% burned as fuel. Sawn-wood production totaled 28,000 cubic meters (988,000 cubic feet) that year, and exports of forest products were valued at $3 million. There is a large,

Yearly Balance of Trade

The balance of trade is the difference between what a country sells to other countries (its exports) and what it buys (its imports). If a country imports more than it exports, it has a negative balance of trade (a trade deficit). If exports exceed imports there is a positive balance of trade (a trade surplus).

government-approved commercial forestry plantation on Espiritu Santo.

25 Mining

Vanuatu has few known minerals, although gold deposits have recently been discovered.

26 Foreign Trade

In 2000, exports totaled $23.2 million and imports amounted to $86.7 million. Export commodities include oilseeds, vegetables, wood, meat, cocoa, copra, and fish. Vanuatu imports food, consumer goods, fuels, industrial supplies, machinery, and transportation equipment. Vanuatu’s main trade partners are Thailand, Taiwan, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Fiji.

27 Energy and Power

Electricity production totaled 42 million kilowatt-hours in 2002, all of it from fossil fuels.

28 Social Development

The extended family system ensures that no islanders starve, while church missions and the social development section of the Education Ministry concentrate on rural development and youth activities. A provident fund system provides lump-sum benefits for old age, disability, and death. Women are just beginning to emerge from traditional cultural roles, but there still are no female leaders in the country’s civic, business, or religious institutions.

29 Health

Malaria is the most serious of the country’s diseases, which also include leprosy, tuberculosis, filariasis, and venereal diseases.

Medical care is provided by 94 hospitals, health centers, and clinics administered by the Ministry of Health, with assistance from the World Health Organization and a number of voluntary agencies. In 2004, there were an estimated 11 physicians and 235 nurses per 100,000 people.

In 2005, the infant mortality rate was estimated at 55.16 per 1,000 live births. Life expectancy was an estimated 62.85 years in 2006.

In urban areas, only the emerging middle class can afford government-built housing. Other migrants to the towns buy plots of land and build cheap shacks of corrugated iron and waste materials,

Selected Social Indicators

The statistics below are the most recent estimates available as of 2006. For comparison purposes, data for the United States and averages for low-income countries and high-income countries are also given. About 15% of the world’s 6.5 billion people live in high-income countries, while 37% live in low-income countries.

IndicatorVanuatu Low-income countriesHigh-income countriesUnited States
sources: World Bank. World Development Indicators. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank, 2006; Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2006; World Resources Institute, Washington, D.C.
Per capita gross national income (GNI)*$2,950 $2,258$31,009$39,820
Population growth rate1.5% 2%0.8%1.2%
People per square kilometer of land17 803032
Life expectancy in years: male61 587675
female64 608280
Number of physicians per 1,000 people0.1 0.43.72.3
Number of pupils per teacher (primary school)23 431615
Literacy rate (15 years and older)74% 65%>95%99%
Television sets per 1,000 people13 84735938
Internet users per 1,000 people35 28538630
Energy consumed per capita (kg of oil equivalent)n.a. 5015,4107,843
CO2 emissions per capita (metric tons)0.42 0.8512.9719.92
* The GNI is the total of all goods and services produced by the residents of a country in a year. The per capita GNI is calculated by dividing a country’s GNI by its population and adjusting for relative purchasing power.
n.a.: data not available >: greater than <: less than

principally near Port-Vila and Luganville. The vast majority of villagers still build their own homes from local materials. The majority of dwellings are traditional Melanesian houses with earth or coral floors, windows without glass, and interior walls and roofs constructed of palm, bamboo, or cane. The most widely used exterior construction material was bush.

About 87% of the population has access to safe drinking water.

31 Education

Primary education is available for almost all children, except in a few remote tribal areas. Education is provided in either English or French. The pupil-teacher ratio at the primary level averages 23 to 1. Approximately 94% of primary-school-aged children enroll in school, while 27% of those eligible attend secondary school.

Full secondary education is provided by the anglophone (English-language) Malapoa College and the French Lycée at Port-Vila; limited secondary education is also available in five English post-primary schools and three French mission schools. For post-secondary education, especially medical and technical training, selected students go principally to Fiji, Australia, and New Zealand.

The adult literacy rate in 2004 was estimated at about 74%.

32 Media

Vanuatu is linked by telegraph and telex to Hong Kong; Paris; Noumea, New Caledonia; and Sydney, Australia. In 2003, there were 6,500 mainline phones and 7,800 mobile phones in use nationwide. Radio Vanuatu (founded in 1966) broadcasts daily in English, French, and Bislama. As of 2002, there were four radio stations and one television station. In 2005 there were 13 television sets per 1,000 population. In 2003, there were 7,500 Internet subscribers served by 512 service providers.

The weekly government newspaper, The Vanuatu Weekly, appears in English, French, and Bislama. In 2002, it had a circulation of 1,700. In 2005, there were also four privately owned weekly papers.

The constitution provides for free speech and a free press; however, in practice these provisions are not always honored.

33 Tourism and Recreation

Popular forms of recreation include marine sightseeing, deep-sea fishing, and sailing. The number of tourist arrivals reached 50,400 in 2003, almost 58% of whom came from Australia. Tourist receipts totaled $71 million the same year. There were 10,793 rooms in hotels and other establishments with 28,235 beds and an occupancy rate of 35%.

34 Famous Vanuatuans

Father Walter Hayde Lini (1943–1999), ordained as an Anglican priest in 1970, was a major political force in Vanuatu after independence.

35 Bibliography

BOOKS

Bennett, Michelle. Vanuatu. London: Lonely Planet, 2003.

Bonnemaison, Jokl, ed. Arts of Vanuatu. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1996.

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

WEB SITES

Commonwealth Country Profiles. www.thecommonwealth.org/Templates/YearbookHomeInternal.asp?NodeID=139623. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

Country Pages. www.state.gov/p/eap/ci/nh/. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

Government Home Page. www.vanuatugovernment.gov.vu/. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

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Vanuatu

Vanuatu

Compiled from the October 2006 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Vanuatu

PROFILE

GEOGRAPHY

PEOPLE

HISTORY

GOVERNMENT

POLITICAL CONDITIONS

ECONOMY

FOREIGN RELATIONS

U.S.-VANUATU RELATIONS

TRAVEL

PROFILE

Geography

Area: Land—12, 190 sq. km. (4,707 sq. mi.), over 80 Islands. Comparative area—about the size of Connecticut.

Cities: Capital—Port Vila (on the island of Efate), pop. 33,700. Other towns—Luganville (on the island of Espiritu Santo, also known as Santo).

Terrain: Mostly mountains of volcanic origin, narrow coastal plains.

Climate: Tropical.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—ni-Vanuatu.

Population: (2005 est.) 218,000.

Annual growth rate: (2005 est.) 2.2%.

Ethnic groups: 94% ni-Vanuatu; 4% European; 2% other Pacific Islanders, Asian.

Religion: Predominantly Christian.

Languages: Bislama (Pidgin), English, French, over 100 tribal languages.

Education: Enrollment in primary is 100% with rapid fall-off to 20% in secondary and upper secondary. Adult literacy rate (2005)—74% of those age 15 and older.

Health: Infant mortality rate (2005)—55.1/1,000. Life expectancy (2005)—62.5 yrs.

Work force: (1999) 134,000. Agriculture—65%. Industry—5%. Service—30%.

Government

Type: Parliamentary democracy.

Independence: July 30, 1980.

Constitution: July 30, 1980.

Government branches: Executive—president (head of state), prime minister (head of government). Legislative—unicameral (52-member parliament). Judicial—Supreme Court.

Political subdivisions: 6 administrative districts.

Political parties: Melanesian Progressive Party (MPP); Union of Moderate Parties (UMP); National United Party (NUP); Vanua’aku Party (VP); Vanuatu Republican Party (VRP); the Confederation of Greens (CG); John Frum group; People’s Progressive Party (PPP); National Community Association (NCA).

Suffrage: Universal over 18.

Independence Day: July 30.

Economy

GDP: (2005) $343.6 million.

Per capita income: (2005) $1,576.

Real growth rate: (2005) 3.1%.

Inflation rate: (2005) 2.6%.

Natural resources: Forests, agricultural land, marine resources.

Agriculture: Products—copra, cocoa, coffee, cattle, timber.

Industry: Types—copra production, beef processing, sawmilling, tourism, financial services.

Trade: (2003) Exports—$135.27 million: coconut oil, copra, kava, beef. Major markets—EU 44.9%, Australia 12.1%, Japan 6.8%, New Caledonia 4.6%. Imports—$181.4 million: machines and transport equipment, food and live animals, basic manufactures, mineral fuels. Major suppliers—Australia 42.5%, New Zealand 13.0%, Fiji 8.6%, Singapore 6.2%.

Exchange rate: (2005 avg.) 109.25 vatu=U.S.$1.

GEOGRAPHY

Vanuatu is a ‘Y’shaped archipelago of over 80 islands. It is located about 1,750 kilometers east of Australia. Fiji lies to the east, New Caledonia to the south, and the Solomon Islands to the northwest, all within the area of the South Pacific called Melanesia.

The two largest islands, Espiritu Santo (or Santo) and Malakula, account for nearly one-half of the total land area. They are volcanic, with sharp mountain peaks, plateaus, and lowlands. The larger islands of the remaining half also are

volcanic but are overlaid with limestone formations; the smaller ones are coral and limestone. Volcanic activity is common with an ever-present danger of a major eruption, the last of which occurred in 1945. Rainfall averages about 2,360 millimeters (94 in.) per year but can be as high as 4,000 millimeters (160 in.) in the northern islands.

PEOPLE

The population of Vanuatu is 94% indigenous Melanesian. About 33,700 live in the capital, Port Vila. Another 10,700 live in Luganville (or Santo Town) on Espiritu Santo. The remainder live in rural areas. Approximately 2,000 ni-Vanuatu live and work in New Caledonia. Although local pidgin, called Bislama, is the national language, English and French also are official languages. Indigenous Melanesians speak 105 local languages.

Christianity has had a profound influence on ni-Vanuatu society, and an estimated 90% of the population is affiliated with one of the Christian denominations. The largest denominations are Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, and Anglican. John Frum, a syncretic sect, also is important on Tanna Island.

HISTORY

The prehistory of Vanuatu is obscure; archaeological evidence supports the commonly held theory that peoples speaking Austronesian languages first came to the islands some 4,000 years ago. Pottery fragments have been found dating back to 1300-1100 B.C.

The first island in the Vanuatu group discovered by Europeans was Espiritu Santo, when in 1606 the Portuguese explorer, Pedro Fernandez De Quiros, spied what he thought was a southern continent. Europeans did not return until 1768, when Louis Antoine de Bougainville rediscovered the islands. In 1774, Captain Cook named the islands the New Hebrides, a name that lasted until independence.

In 1825, trader Peter Dillon’s discovery of sandalwood on the island of Erromango began a rush that ended in 1830 after a clash between immigrant Polynesian workers and indigenous Melanesians. During the 1860s, planters in Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, and the Samoa Islands, in need of laborers, encouraged a long-term indentured labor trade called “blackbirding.” At the height of the labor trade, more than one-half the adult male population of several of the Islands worked abroad. Fragmentary evidence indicates that the current population of Vanuatu is greatly reduced compared to pre-contact times.

It was at this time that missionaries, both Catholic and Protestant, arrived on the islands. Settlers also came, looking for land on which to establish cotton plantations. When international cotton prices collapsed, they switched to coffee, cocoa, bananas, and, most successfully, coconuts. Initially, British subjects from Australia made up the majority, but the establishment of the Caledonian Company of the New Hebrides in 1882 soon tipped the balance in favor of French subjects. By the turn of the century, the French outnumbered the British two to one.

The jumbling of French and British interests in the islands brought petitions for one or another of the two powers to annex the territory. In 1906, however, France and the United Kingdom agreed to administer the islands jointly. Called the British-French Condominium, it was a unique form of government, with separate governmental systems that came together only in a joint court. Melanesians were barred from acquiring the citizenship of either power.

Challenges to this form of government began in the early 1940s. The arrival of Americans during World War II, with their informal demeanor and relative wealth, was instrumental in the rise of nationalism in the islands. The belief in a mythical messianic figure named John Frum was the basis for an indigenous cargo cult (a movement attempting to obtain industrial goods through magic) promising Melanesian deliverance. Today, John Frum is both a religion and a political party with a member in Parliament.

The first political party was established in the early 1970s and originally was called the New Hebrides National Party. One of the founders was Father Walter Lini, who later became Prime Minister. Renamed the Vanua’aku Pati in 1974, the party pushed for independence; in 1980, the Republic of Vanuatu was created.

GOVERNMENT

The constitution created a republican political system headed by a president who has primarily ceremonial powers and is elected by a two-thirds majority in an electoral college consisting of members of Parliament and the presidents of Regional Councils. The president serves a 5-year term. The president may be removed by the electoral college for gross misconduct or incapacity.

The prime minister, who is the head of government, is elected by a majority vote of a three-fourths quorum of the Parliament. The prime minister in turn appoints the Council of Ministers, whose number may not exceed one-fourth of the number of parliamentary representatives. The prime minister and the Council of Ministers constitute the executive government.

Parliament is a 52-member unicameral house elected by all persons over 18 years old. Parliament normally sits for a 4-year term unless dissolved by majority vote of a three-fourths quorum or a directive from the president on the advice of the prime minister. The national Council of Chiefs, called the Malvatu Mauri and elected by district councils of chiefs, advises the government on all matters concerning ni-Vanuatu culture and language.

The Supreme Court consists of a chief justice and up to three other judges. Two or more members of this court may constitute a Court of Appeal. Magistrate courts handle most routine legal matters. The legal system is based on British law. The constitution also provides for the establishment of village or island courts presided over by chiefs to deal with questions of customary law.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 8/16/2006

President: Kalkot Matas KELEKELE

Prime Minister: Ham LINI

Dep. Prime Min.: Sato KILMAN

Min. of Agriculture, Forestry, & Fisheries: Barak SOPE Ma’au Tamate

Min. of the Comprehensive Reform Program: Isabelle DONALD

Min. of Education: Joseph NATUMAN

Min. of Finance & Economic Development: Moana CARCASSES

Min. of Foreign Affairs: Sato KILMAN

Min. of Health: Morkin Iatika STEVENS

Min. of Internal Affairs: Georges Andre WELLS

Min. of Lands, Geology, & Mines: Willie Jimmy TAPANGARARUA

Min. of Ni-Vanuatu Business Development: Joshua KALSAKAU

Min. of Public Utilities: Edward NATAPEI

Min. of Trade, Commerce, & Industries: James BULE

Min. of Youth & Sports: Arnold PRASAD

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York:

Vanuatu does not have an embassy in Washington. Its mission to the United Nations is located at 866 UN Plaza, 4th Floor, Room 41, First Avenue and 48th Street, New York, NY 10017. Vanuatu Maritime Services, which provides information on ship registration in Vanuatu, is located at 120 Broadway, Suite 1743, New York, NY 10271.

POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Government and society in Vanuatu tend to divide along linguistic—French and English—lines. Historically, English-speaking politicians such as Walter Lini and other leaders of the Vanua’aku Pati favored early independence, whereas French-speaking political leaders favored continuing association with the colonial administrators, particularly France.

On the eve of independence in 1980, Jimmy Stevens’ Nagriamel movement, in alliance with private French interests and backed by American libertarians hoping to establish a tax-free haven, declared the island of Espiritu Santo independent of the new government. Following independence, Vanuatu requested assistance from Papua New Guinea, whose forces restored order on Santo. From then until 1991, the Vanua’aku Pati and its predominantly English-speaking leadership controlled the Vanuatu Government, and Walter Lini became widely considered as the nation’s founding father.

In December 1991, and following a split in the Vanua’aku Pati, Maxime Carlot Korman, leader of the Franco-phone Union of Moderate Parties (UMP), was elected Vanuatu’s first Francophone prime minister. He formed a coalition government with Walter Lini’s breakaway VP faction, now named the National United Party (NUP). From 1995–2004 government leadership changed frequently thanks to unstable coalitions within the Parliament and within the major parties.

The president dissolved Parliament in May 2004 to forestall a vote of no confidence and called a special election that resulted in losses for most major parties. UMP’s leader, Serge Vohor, returned as Prime Minister at the head of an unwieldy coalition government. Following controversy over Vohor’s attempt to extend diplomatic relations to Taiwan, he was ousted by a vote of no confidence in December 2004 and replaced by Ham Lini, brother of Walter Lini. The new coalition includes ten parties and features the former opposition leader, Sato Kilman, as Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister.

ECONOMY

Vanuatu’s economy is primarily agricultural; 80% of the population is engaged in agricultural activities that range from subsistence farming to smallholder farming of coconuts and other cash crops. Copra is by far the most important cash crop (making up more than 35% of the country’s exports), followed by timber, beef, and cocoa. Kava root extract exports also have become important. In addition, the government has maintained Vanuatu’s preindependence status as a tax haven and international off-shore financial center. About 2,000 registered institutions offer a wide range of offshore banking, investment, legal, accounting, and insurance and trust-company services. Vanuatu also maintains an international shipping register in New York City. In 2002, following increasing international concern over money laundering, Vanuatu increased oversight and reporting requirements for its off-shore sector.

Coconut oil, copra, kava and beef account for more than 75% of Vanuatu’s total agricultural exports and agriculture accounts for approximately 20% of GDP. Tourism is Vanuatu’s fastest-growing sector, having comprised 40% of GDP in 2000. Industry’s portion of GDP declined from 15% to 10% between 1990 and 2000. Government consumption accounted for about 27% of GDP.

Vanuatu is a small country, with only a few commodities, mostly agricultural, produced for export. In 2003, imports exceeded exports by a ratio of nearly 3 to 2. However, this was partially offset by high services income from tourism, keeping the current account balance at $-28.4 million.

Vanuatu claims an exclusive economic zone of 680,000 square kilometers and possesses substantial marine resources. Currently, only a limited number of ni-Vanuatu are involved in fishing, while foreign fleets exploit this potential.

In 1997 the government, with the aid of the Asian Development Bank, committed itself to a 3-year comprehensive reform program. During the first year of the program the government adopted a value-added tax, consolidated and reformed government-owned banks, and started a 10% downsizing in the public service. An important part of the reform installed career civil servants as Director Generals in charge of each ministry, helping to ensure continuity of service despite the frequent changes in government.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Vanuatu maintains relations with more than 65 countries, including Russia, the People’s Republic of China, Cuba, and Vietnam. However, only Australia, France, New Zealand, and the People’s Republic of China maintain embassies, high commissions, or missions in Port Vila.

The government’s main concern has been to bolster the economy. In keeping with its need for financial assistance, Vanuatu has joined the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Agence de Cooperation Culturelle et Technique.

The government encourages private enterprise, foreign investment, and producer cooperatives. Like other developing countries, Vanuatu is particularly interested in enterprises that add value to local primary products and that provide employment. In less lucrative sectors, the government sets up its own production companies or enters joint ventures with foreign investors.

Since 1980, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, and New Zealand have provided the bulk of Vanuatu’s development aid. A number of other countries, including Japan, Canada, Germany, and various multilateral organizations, such as the Economic and Social Council for Asia and the Pacific, the UN Development Program, the Asian Development Bank, the European Economic Community, and the Commonwealth Development Corporation also provide developmental aid. The United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Japan also send volunteers. In March 2006 the United States Millennium Challenge Corporation signed a five-year $65.69 million Compact agreement with Vanuatu.

Vanuatu retains strong economic and cultural ties to Australia, New Zealand, and France.

Membership in International Organizations

Vanuatu is a member of the United Nations and its specialized and related agencies, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund; South Pacific Commission; South Pacific Forum; Non-Aligned Movement; Commonwealth, Group of 77; and Asian Development Bank (ADB).

U.S.-VANUATU RELATIONS

The United States and Vanuatu established diplomatic relations in 1986. Between 1977 and 1987, Vanuatu received just under $3 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), including projects focusing on assisting the transition to indigenous plantation management. In June 1994, the regional USAID office located in Suva, Fiji, was closed due to U.S. Government budgetary cutbacks. The U.S. military retains training links and conducts ad hoc assistance projects in Vanuatu.

In March 2006 the United States Millennium Challenge Corporation signed a five-year $65.69 million Compact agreement with Vanuatu. The Millennium Challenge Program is expected to increase average income per capita by 15% within five years and directly impact the lives of more than 65,000 of the rural poor in Vanuatu.

Vanuatu identified costly and unreliable transportation infrastructure as a major impediment to economic growth. To overcome this constraint, the Compact consists of up to eleven infrastructure projects—including roads, wharfs, an airstrip and ware-houses—that will help poor, rural agricultural producers and providers of tourist related goods and services reduce transportation costs and improve access to transportation services.

The Compact also includes institutional strengthening efforts and policy reform initiatives in Vanuatu ‘s Public Works Department, including: provision of plant and equipment for maintenance; introduction of service performance contracts; establishment of local community maintenance schemes; and introduction of user fees.

The United States also remains a major financial contributor to international and regional organizations that assist Vanuatu, including the World Bank, UNICEF, WHO, the UN Fund for Population Activities, and the Asian Development Bank.

In 1989, the United States concluded a Peace Corps agreement with Vanuatu. The Peace Corps has met with a warm welcome there and currently has over 80 volunteers in-country. The United States also provides military training assistance to the police force.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

PORT MORESBY (E) Address: Douglas Street, P.O. Box 1492, NCD Port Moresby; APO/FPO: APO, AP 96553; Phone: 675-321-1455; Fax: 675-320-0637; INMARSAT Tel: 011-872-1534721; Workweek: 7:45am -4:30pm.

AMB:Leslie Rowe
AMB OMS:Sheryl Strrance
DCM:Thomas Weinz
DCM OMS:Josephine Aderinto
CON:Leslie Livingood
MGT:Joe W. De Chirico
AFSA:Chris Beenhouwer
CLO:Irene Weinz
ECO/COM:Jon Ward
EEO:Sheryl Strance
GSO:Chris Beenhouwer
IPO:Ken Kobilarcik
ISSO:Ken Kobilarcik
RSO:A.D. Aderinto

Last Updated: 10/20/2006

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet : December 27, 2006

Country Description: Vanuatu consists of 80 islands in a Y-shaped archipelago, 1300 miles northeast of Sydney, Australia. It is an independent parliamentary democracy and a member of the British Commonwealth, with a primarily agricultural economy. Tourist facilities are limited outside the capital, Port Vila, which is located on the Island of Efate. The National Tourism Office of Vanuatu can be contacted at P.O. Box 209, Port Vila, Vanuatu, telephone (678) 22515, 22685, 22813, fax (678) 23889, e-mail: [email protected]

Entry/Exit Requirements: A valid passport, and onward/return ticket and proof of sufficient funds are required. Visas are not required for stays up to 30 days. For further information on entry requirements, particularly those planning to enter by a sailing vessel, please contact the Vanuatu Mission to the United Nations at 42 Broadway, Suite 1200-18, New York, NY 10004, tel. (212) 425-9600, fax (212) 425-9652, e-mail: [email protected] Travelers who plan to transit or visit Australia are advised to obtain an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) or visa for Australia before leaving the United States. The ETA is available to eligible U.S. citizens at the time of ticket purchase through travel agents and airlines. More information about the ETA and Australian entry requirements may be obtained from the Australian Embassy at 1601 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036, tel. (202) 797-3000, or via the Australian Embassy home page on the Internet at http://www.austemb.org/.

Safety and Security: Civil disorder is rare; however, U.S. citizens are advised to avoid public demonstrations and/or political rallies if they occur. For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Depart-ment’s Internet website where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime: Although violent crime is extremely rare in Vanuatu, burglary reports have been on the rise. Tourists, therefore, should take reasonable precautions to avoid exposing themselves to undue risk.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby for assistance. For example, the Embassy staff can assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends, and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney, if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical facilities are limited. The nearest reliable medical treatment is in Australia or New Zealand. There is a hyperbaric recompression chamber in Luganville, on Espiritu Santo Island; however, diving-related injuries may require medical evacuation to Australia or New Zealand. Malaria is prevalent in some areas. Serious injuries requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States or elsewhere can cost thousands of dollars. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for their services. Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Vanuatu is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Vanuatu is a chain of islands and atolls; most long-distance travel is by air or sea. Only the capital city of Port Vila (on Efate Island) and the town of Luganville (on Espiritu Santo Island) have paved roads, which have a speed limit of 50 kilometers per hour. These paved roads can be quite narrow in spots; drivers should take care especially at night or along unfamiliar routes. The roads in all other areas are unpaved or dirt tracks. Drivers on all roads should give way to traffic coming from the right. Travelers must take care when driving off main roads to avoid trespassing on communal land.

For specific information concerning Vanuatu driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the National Tourism Office of Vanuatu or the Vanuatu Mission to the United Nations.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Vanuatu, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Vanuatu’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s Internet website at http://www.faa.gov.

Special Circumstances: Vanuatu customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Vanuatu of items such as firearms, certain prescription drugs, and sexually explicit material. Other products may be subject to quarantine. It is advisable to contact Vanuatu Mission to the United Nations at 42 Broadway, Suite 1200-18, New York, NY 10004, tel. (212) 425-9600, fax (212) 425-9652, e-mail: [email protected], for specific information regarding customs requirements.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship is readily available.

Disaster Preparedness: Vanuatu is prone to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, sudden tidal movements, tropical storms, and cyclones. The Pacific cyclone season lasts from November through April. While local media and hotels will convey cyclone alerts issued by local authorities, detailed weather information is published by Météo-France in New Caledonia, the Fiji Meteorological Service, and the Naval Pacific Meteorology and Oceanography Centre. In case of a natural disaster, follow the advice of local authorities. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.

In mid-May 2006, the dormant volcano on Lopevi Island became active. Since mid-September 2005, Mount Yasur volcano on Tanna Island has shown an increase in volcanic activity. The Manaro volcano on the island of Ambae and the volcanoes on the island of Ambrym have now become less active.

Visitors should contact the Vanuatu Tourism Office prior to traveling to areas where volcanic activity may occur. Detailed information about earthquakes is available from the National Earthquake Information Center of the United States Geological Survey at http://earthquake.usgs.gov/regional/neic/.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Vanuatu’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Vanuatu are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using, or disseminating, child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children’s Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration and Embassy Location: The U.S. Embassy in Papua New Guinea provides primary assistance for U.S. citizens in Vanuatu. The Embassy is located on Douglas Street, adjacent to the Bank of Papua New Guinea, in Port Moresby. Use that address for courier service deliveries. The mailing address is P.O. Box 1492, Port Moresby, N.C.D. 121, Papua New Guinea; the telephone number is (675) 321-1455; after hours duty officer telephone number is (675) 683-7943; Fax (675) 321-1593. American citizens may submit consular inquiries via e-mail to [email protected] Other inquires may be e-mailed to http://PortMoresby.USEmbassy.gov. For additional information, and to download forms, please refer to the Virtual Embassy at www.usvpp-vanuatu.org. Americans living or traveling in Vanuatu are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby through the State Department’s travel registration website and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Vanuatu. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the Embassy. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. Persons who have previously registered with the Embassy are requested to re-register online to update their records.

International Adoption : September 2006

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Patterns of Immigration: Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics indicate that only one orphan from Vanuatu has received an adoption-based immigrant visa within the past five years.

Adoption Authority: Vanuatu courts oversee the adoption system. The court system may be reached by phone at (678) 22420.

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: Prospective adoptive parents must be 18 years of age or older and can be either single or married. Although there are no income requirements, prospective adoptive parents must satisfy the Vanuatu courts that they are financially secure.

Residency Requirements: Although prospective adoptive parents do not need to be permanent residents of Vanuatu, they must remain in Vanuatu for the three-to-four-month period it takes for an adoption to be finalized.

Time Frame: Per above, the estimated time for an adoption to be processed is about 3 to 4 months.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: There are no adoption agencies in Vanuatu. However, American prospective adoptive parents may still wish to enlist the services of an American adoption agency to assist them with the overall intercountry adoption process.

Adoption Fees: American prospective adoptive parents should expect to pay less than $100 in Vanuatu government fees related to processing an adoption. It may or may not be necessary for prospective parents to pay additional fees to lawyers, depending on the services rendered.

Adoption Procedures: Applications for adoption are obtained from and must be submitted when completed to the Courthouse in Port Vila (Vanuatu’s capital). The mailing address is as follows:

Courthouse in Port Vila
Private Mail Bag 9041
Port Vila, Vanuatu
Telephone—(678) 22420.

Documentary Requirements: When submitted to the Vanuatu court, the adoption dossier must contain:

  • A completed adoption application;
  • Child’s birth certificate;
  • Bank statements for the prospective adoptive parents; and
  • Prospective adopting parents’ marriage license (or proof of single status).

Vanuatu Mission to the United Nations:
42 Broadway
Suite 1200-18
New York, NY 10004
Tel. (212) 425-9600
Fax (212) 425-9652
E-mail: [email protected]

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adopting parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adopting Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

U.S. Embassy, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea:
Douglas Street
P.O. Box 1492
Port Moresby, N.C.D. 121
Papua New Guinea
Telephone—(675) 321-1455;
Fax—(675) 321-1593.
E-mail—[email protected]

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in Vanuatu or immigrant visas for adopted children from Vanuatu may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Papua New Guinea at the address, phone number and e-mail address listed above. General questions regarding intercountry adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

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Vanuatu

Vanuatu

Type of Government

Vanuatu is a democratic parliamentary republic with a president serving as head of state and a prime minister serving as head of the government. The unicameral Parliament is the main decision-making body. The National Council of Chiefs (Malvatu Mauri) advises the government on language and culture.

Background

Vanuatu is an island nation located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It comprises eighty-three islands (sixty-five are inhabited) that form a Y-shaped archipelago; the population is concentrated on fourteen principal islands. The two largest islands, Espíritu Santo (sometimes called Santo) and Malekula, account for nearly half the nation’s total land area. Vanuatu’s capital is Port-Vila, on the island of Efate. The term “ni-Vanuatu” is used to refer to the residents of the islands.

Vanuatu was settled by peoples of Melanesian origin between 1300 and 1100 BC. Much of what is known about the islands’ early culture is derived from oral history and legends. Archeological evidence suggests that the tribes of Vanuatu were united by the great chief Roy Mata, under whom a highly stratified society emerged.

The island of Espíritu Santo was first sighted by the Portuguese explorer Pedro Fernandes de Queirós (c. 1570–1615) in 1606, but Europeans did not return there until the late eighteenth century. In 1768 the French navigator Louis-Antoine de Bougainville (1729–1811) rediscovered the islands, and the English explorer James Cook (known as Captain Cook; 1728–1779) gave them the name “New Hebrides” in 1774. The discovery of sandalwood on the island of Erromango in 1825 brought a rush of European traders and Polynesian immigrant workers to the islands.

Initially, the native ni-Vanuatu had little contact with the Europeans, who tended to remain on the coasts. That changed during the 1860s as many ni-Vanuatu were forcibly recruited to work as slave laborers on plantations in Australia, Samoa, and Fiji, a common practice in the South Pacific known as “blackbirding.” When these workers returned home, they found that British and French settlers had arrived on the islands intending to establish cotton plantations; when cotton prices fell, the Europeans began to cultivate coffee, cocoa, bananas, and, most profitably, coconuts. British settlers from Australia dominated the islands at first, but by the turn of the century, the French heavily outnumbered the British.

In order to protect their interests in the region, Great Britain and France signed the Joint Naval Commission in 1887, followed by the Anglo-French Condominium of 1906. According to the terms of the arrangement, the two nations shared control of the New Hebrides islands. Each nation appointed a separate commissioner in the capital and ruled over settlers of their own nationality; the indigenous people were ruled jointly but had no rights to acquire citizenship from either country.

During World War II, Vanuatu served as an Allied military base. Thousands of American military personnel arrived in Vanuatu, loaded with tons of cargo such as weapons, food, and medical supplies. The sight inspired the development of a “cargo cult” known as the John Frum Movement. (Cargo cults are quasi-religious movements that develop among historically isolated tribal groups after their exposure to Western goods and culture.) Local villagers believed the mystical figure of John Frum, whom they worshipped as a god, was responsible for sending the U.S. military—and all its precious cargo—to the islands. Adherents to this cult believed that John Frum urged them to reject the teachings of Christian missionaries and return to their traditional ways of life. In this manner, the movement fostered anti-European sentiment among the ni-Vanuatu, who already resented the large amounts of land owned by European settlers on the islands, and set them on a course toward independence. The John Frum cult remains active in Vanuatu to this day—in 2007, believers celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the movement’s founding.

The first step toward independence was taken in 1974, when the islands were granted an elected legislative assembly. The English- and French-speaking populations remained divided as to the colony’s future: English-speakers urged independence, whereas francophones either wished to remain under French control or secede altogether. As a result of the split among French-speakers, the colony’s first elections gave a majority to the Vanua’aku Pati political party led by the Anglican priest Walter Lini (1942–1999), a strong advocate of independence. In 1980 the independent Republic of Vanuatu (meaning “Our Land Forever”) was established.

Vanuatu remains a full member of the Commonwealth of Nations (also called the British Commonwealth), a voluntary association of more than fifty independent nations that are former colonies or territories of the British Empire.

Government Structure

The structure and functions of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government are outlined in the nation’s constitution, which was adopted upon independence in 1980. Vanuatu has both a president who serves as head of state and a prime minister who is head of government. The president is elected to a five-year term by an electoral college composed of all members of the legislature and the presidents of the regional councils of chiefs; a two-thirds majority is required in order to win election. The position of the president is largely ceremonial and is not considered part of the executive branch.

Executive authority is vested in the prime minister and Council of Ministers. The prime minister is elected from among the members of the legislature by a majority vote (a quorum of three-quarters must be present). The prime minister chooses a cabinet called the Council of Ministers; the exact number of cabinet members varies from one administration to the next but cannot exceed one-quarter of the number of members of the legislature. As in all parliamentary systems, the prime minister and cabinet members also hold seats in the legislature.

Vanuatu has a unicameral (single-chamber) legislature called the Parliament. This body is made up of fifty-two members who are elected from multi-seat districts. Elections are held every four years. Parliament has the authority to pass a motion of “no confidence” against the governing administration. In this case Parliament can be dissolved before the end of its four-year term by a three-quarters majority vote or by a directive from the president (on the advice of the prime minister). To reduce political instability, electoral reforms were implemented in 2004 to disallow no-confidence votes during the first and last twelve months of a parliamentary term.

An important component of the government is the National Council of Chiefs (Malvatu Mauri), whose members are elected by the regional councils of chiefs. This body advises the government on ni-Vanuatu language and culture and participates in the electoral college that elects the president.

Vanuatu’s legal system is based on English common law. The Supreme Court is the ultimate judicial authority in Vanuatu. This court is composed of four members: the chief justice, who is appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister, and up to three other members, who are chosen by the president on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission. Two or more members of the Supreme Court may form a Court of Appeal. Magistrates’ courts form the base of the judicial system. Vanuatu’s constitution also provides for village and island courts, which are presided over by chiefs and handle matters of customary law.

Political Parties and Factions

National politics in Vanuatu operates as a multi-party system—that is, many political parties (or coalitions of parties) compete for control of government. Since independence, the divide between the English-speaking and French-speaking populations has been the most important political fault line in Vanuatu.

For more than a decade after independence, the anglophone Vanua’aku Pati (Party of Our Land) controlled the government. Although English-speakers were a minority in the early post-independence period, they were able to dominate government because the French-speakers were fragmented politically. In the early 1990s, however, many members of the Vanua’aku Pati defected to start a new party, called the National United Party; nonetheless, the Vanua’aku Pati remains an important force in ni-Vanuatu politics. The chief French-speaking party is the Union of Moderate Parties. In the parliamentary elections of 2004, at least seven other parties had representation in the legislature. Since the breakup of the Vanua’aku Pati, coalition building has been necessary to sustain governments.

Major Events

Economic development and disputes between the anglophone and francophone populations have dominated Vanuatu’s political life since independence. The instability created by the ongoing feud between language groups has led to several votes of no-confidence and the replacement of the nation’s top leadership at frequent intervals. In addition, Espíritu Santo was the site of a rebellion in 1980 during the transfer from colonial rule to independence, with agitators seeking secession from Vanuatu. Troops from Papua New Guinea re-established order on the island, which remained afterwards peacefully within the country.

Government instability has been a factor hindering economic progress in Vanuatu. It receives development aid from international organizations, Australia, New Zealand, and France and has sought to protect its own industries through targeted embargoes on imported products. In addition, Vanuatu’s failure to regulate or tax commercial enterprises encourages foreign investment by those seeking to avoid the government oversight typical in more developed economies.

Twenty-First Century

Although Vanuatu has not experienced the degree of unrest that has plagued other South Pacific nations such as Fiji and Papua New Guinea, political stability is a key challenge in the twenty-first century. Electoral reforms implemented in 2004 attempted to stabilize the government by curtailing incessant no-confidence votes.

Commonwealth Secretariat. “Vanuatu Country Profile.” (accessed August 28, 2007).

Allen, Michael, ed. Vanuatu: Politics, Economics, and Ritual in Island Melanesia . New York: Academic Press, 1981.

Rodman, Margaret Critchlow. Houses Far from Home: British Colonial Space in the New Hebrides . Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2001.

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Vanuatu

Vanuatu

  • Area: 4,710 sq mi (12,200 sq km) / World Rank: 159
  • Location: Southern and Eastern Hemispheres, in Oceania, group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, northeast of Australia.
  • Coordinates: 16°00′S, 167°00′E
  • Borders: None
  • Coastline: 1,570 mi (2,528 km)
  • Territorial Seas: 12 NM
  • Highest Point: Mount Tabwemasana, 6,158 ft (1,877 m)
  • Lowest Point: Sea level
  • Longest River: None of significant length
  • Natural Hazards: Typhoons; volcanic eruptions; minor earthquakes; mudslides; heavy rainfall
  • Population: 192,910 (July 2001 est.) / World Rank: 176
  • Capital City: Port-Vila, on the island of Éfaté
  • Largest City: Port-Vila, on Éfaté, population 30,000

OVERVIEW

Vanuatu, formerly the Anglo-French Condominium of the New Hebrides, is a Y-shaped Melanesian archipelago of more than 80 islands, stretching between west of Fiji and northeast of New Caledonia. The entire chain is the result of active volcanism as the Australian and Pacific Plates converge at a rate of 3.5 in (9 cm) per year, uplifting Vanuatu around 1.5 in (4 cm) per year. Lying along the Pacific Ring of Fire, there are active volcanoes on Tanna, Ambrim, and Lopevi. Seventy of the islands are inhabited.

MOUNTAINS AND HILLS

Most of the islands are rugged and mountainous with cultivated narrow coastal plains. The principal peak, Mount Tabwemasana, rises to a height of 6,158 ft (1,877 m) on Espíritu Santo. Other significant peaks include the 4,166 ft (1,270 m) high Mount Maroum on Ambrim, and Mount Tukosmera, which reaches 3,556 ft (1,084 m) on Tanna.

INLAND WATERWAYS

Because the islands are generally very small, there are no rivers or lakes of significant size. However, many small streams do drain the mountains, including the Jourdain, Sarakana, and Wamb Rivers. Some small lakes do exist in extinct volcanic craters and other low-lying areas, including Lake Manaro Ngoro, Lake Manaro Lakua, Lake Voui, and Lake Siwi.

THE COAST, ISLANDS, AND THE OCEAN

Oceans and Seas

The Pacific Ocean surrounding the islands contains many coral reefs just off the rocky shores plunging to hundreds of meters below the surface, as well as under-water volcanoes.

Major Islands

The larger islands are of volcanic origin overlaid with limestone formations; the smaller ones are coral and limestone. The thirteen major islands are Torres Islands (Îles Torres), Bank Islands (Îles Banks—Mota Lava, Sola, Gaua), Espíritu Santo, Ambae, Maéwo, Pentecost, Malakula, Ambrim, Epi, Tongoa, Éfaté, Erromango, Aniwa, Tanna, Fortuna, and Aneityum. The largest islands are Espíritu Santo, Malakula, and Éfaté. Vanuatu makes a disputed claim to Matthew and Hunter Islands east of New Caledonia. "Ownership" of these would considerably extend Vanuatu's Maritime Economic Zone.

The Coast and Beaches

The beach rock is an unusual aspect of local geology. Calcium carbonate leaches from decayed shells and zooplankton skeletons to the littoral zone of the beaches. When water evaporates the calcium carbonate cements everything within the littoral zone together, forming beach rock.

CLIMATE AND VEGETATION

Temperature

Vanuatu's climate is tropical, moderated by southeast trade winds from about May to September each year. It is hot with humidity averaging 83 percent all year. Average midday temperatures in Port-Vila range from 77°F (25°C) in winter to 84°F (29°C) in summer.

Rainfall

Rainfall averages about 94 in (239 cm) per year, and as high as 160 in (406 cm) per year in the northern islands. During November–April the islands are threatened by tropical cyclones.

Forests and Jungles

Lowland forests cover the southeastern, or windward, sides of Vanuatu's islands. At approximately 1,640 ft (500 m) montane forests begin. Threatened by the logging industry, hardwood forests cover 75 percent of the land area.

HUMAN POPULATION

The majority of the population lives in some 2,000 small villages. The only major city is Port-Vila, which has a population of about 30,000. No other village has more than 2,000 inhabitants. Only 20 percent of the Vanuatuans live in urban areas.

NATURAL RESOURCES

Forests, manganese, and fish are Vanuatu's major natural resources. Both tuna and bonito are frozen and exported to Japan and the United States. Tourism is a developing industry. The absence of personal and corporate income taxes and a shipping registry under a "flag of convenience" have made Vanuatu an offshore financial center.

FURTHER READINGS

Bonnemaison, Joël. The Tree and the Canoe: History and Ethnogeography of Tanna. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1994.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN. Fisheries. http://www.fao.org/fi/default.asp (accessed May 6, 2002).

Jolly, Margaret. Women of the Place: Kastom, Colonialism, and Gender in Vanuatu. Philadelphia: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1994.

Kilham, Christopher. Kava: Medicine Hunting in Paradise. Rochester, Vt.: Park Street Press, 1996.

Rodman, Margaret. 1947-Houses Far from Home: British Colonial Space in the New Hebrides. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2001.

Seach, John. Volcano Live. http://www.volcanolive.com/contents.html (accessed May 6, 2002).

GEO-FACT

Beach rock on Espíritu Santo has naturally welded itself to human garbage along the shore, including the remains of WWII machinery and tens of thousands of Coca-Cola and 7-Up bottles.

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Vanuatu

Vanuatu

At a Glance

Official Name: Republic of Vanuatu

Continent: Oceania (S. Pacific)

Area: 5,699 square miles (14,760 sq. km)

Population: 192,910

Capital City: Port-Vila

Largest City: Port-Vila (19,311)

Unit of Money: vatu

Major Languages: English (official), French (official), pidgin

Literacy: 53%

Land Use: 2% arable land, 10% permanent crops, 2% permanent pastures, 75% forests and woodland, 11% other

Natural Resources: Manganese, hardwood forests, fish

Government: Republic

Defense: No military forces

The Place

Vanuatu is an archipelago made of more than 80 islands in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Vanuatu is located about 3,500 miles (5,600 kilometers) southwest of Hawaii and about 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers) northeast of Australia. Vanuatu's capital and largest city is Port-Vila, which is on the island of Éfaté.

Most of Vanuatu's islands are formed by the tops of volcanic mountain ranges, and several volcanoes there are active. About 70 of Vanuatu's islands are inhabited. Espiritu Santo is the largest and has an area of 1,875 square miles (4,856 kilometers). Some other major islands are Malakula, Erromango, and Ambrym. The highest peak, Mount Tabwemasana, is located on Espiritu Santo and stands 6,165 feet (1,879 meters) above sea level.

Vanuatu's weather is tropical, but trade winds between May and October make the climate cooler than during the rest of the year.

Vanuatu has more than 1,000 species of vegetation, including coconut palms, banyan trees, orchids and ferns.

The People

The majority of Vanuatu's people are ethnic Melanesians known as ni-Vanuatu. There are also French, Vietnamese, Chinese, Polynesian, and Micronesian descendents living there. Approximately 70% of Vanuatu's population live on the islands of Éfaté, Espiritu Santo, Erromango, and Tanna.

Vanuatu's official languages are English, French, and Bislama, a form of pidgin English. Bislama is used as the country's common language of communication.

Literacy rates in Vanuatu are low. While almost all children attend primary schools, about 1 in 5 students continues beyond the primary level.

Most of the people in Vanuatu are Christians. About 37% of the population is Presbyterian. Anglicans and Roman Catholics each make up about 15%. Life expectancy is 62 years.

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Vanuatu

VANUATU

Compiled from the December 2003 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.




Official Name:
Republic of Vanuatu

PROFILE
GEOGRAPHY
PEOPLE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-VANUATU RELATIONS
TRAVEL


PROFILE

Geography

Area: Land—12,200 sq. km. (4,707 sq. mi.), includes more than 80 Islands. Comparative area—about the size of Connecticut.

Cities: Capital—Port Vila (on the island of Efate), pop. 30,000. Other towns—Luganville (on the island of Espiritu Santo, also known as Santo).

Terrain: Mostly mountains of volcanic origin, narrow coastal plains.

Climate: Tropical.


People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—ni-Vanuatu.

Population: (2002 est.) 196,000.

Annual growth rate: (2002 est.) 1.66%.

Ethnic groups: 94% ni-Vanuatu; 4% European; 2% other Pacific Islanders, Asian.

Religion: Predominantly Christian.

Languages: Bislama (Pidgin), English, French, over 100 tribal languages.

Education: Enrollment in primary is 100% with rapid fall-off to 20% in secondary and upper secondary. Adult literacy rate (2002)—53% of those age 15 and older.

Health: Infant mortality rate (2002) 59.58/1,000. Life expectancy (2002) 61.3 yrs.

Work force: (1999) 134,000. Agriculture—65%. Industry—5%. Service—30%.


Government

Type: Parliamentary democracy.

Independence: July 30, 1980.

Constitution: July 30, 1980.

Branches: Executive—president (head of state), prime minister (head of government). Legislative—unicameral (52-member parliament). Judicial—Supreme Court.

Administrative subdivisions: 6 administrative districts.

Political parties: Vanua'aku Pati, Union of Moderate Parties, Melanesian Progressive Party, National United Party, People's Democratic Party, John Frum.

Suffrage: Universal over 18.

National holiday: July 30

Flag: A yellow Y with a black border horizontally divides the flag into three parts. The openend is closest to the staff. Above this division is red, below is forest green. The triangle remaining is black with a yellow pig tusk curved around crossed palm fronds.


Economy

GDP: (2001) $257 million.

Per capita income: (2000) $1,300.

Real growth rate: (2000) 2.9%.

Avg. inflation rate: (2000) 2.5%.

Natural resources: Forests, agricultural land, marine resources.

Agriculture: Products—copra, cocoa, coffee, cattle, timber.

Industry: Types—copra production, beef processing, sawmilling, tourism, financial services.

Trade: (2000) Exports—$22.8 million: copra, kava, beef and veal, cocoa, timber, coffee. Major markets—Japan 32%, Belgium 17%, US 17%, Germany 8%, Australia. Imports—$87.5 million: machines and transport equipment, basic manufactures, foodstuffs, fuel, miscellaneous manufactures. Major suppliers—Australia 28%, Singapore 14%, New Zealand 8%, Japan 4%, US 1%.

Official exchange rate: (2002 avg.) 134 vatu=U.S.$1.




GEOGRAPHY

Vanuatu is a 'Y' shaped archipelago that comprises 80 islands. It is located 2,172 kilometers (1,303 mi.) northeast of Sydney and 5,750 kilometers (3,450 mi.) south west of Honolulu. Fiji lies to the east, New Caledonia to the south, and the Solomon Islands to the northwest, all within the area of the South Pacific called Melanesia.

The two largest islands, Espiritu Santo (or Santo) and Malakula, account for nearly one-half of the total land area. They are volcanic, with sharp mountain peaks, plateaus, and lowlands. The last volcanic eruption was in 1945. The larger islands of the remaining half also are volcanic but are overlaid with limestone formations; the smaller ones are coral and limestone. Rainfall averages about 2,360 millimeters (94 in.) per year but can be as high as 4,000 millimeters (160 in.) in the northern islands.




PEOPLE

The population of Vanuatu is 94% indigenous Melanesian. About 30,000 live in the capital, Port Vila. Another 10,700 live in Luganville (or Santo Town) on Espiritu Santo. The remainder live in rural areas. Approximately 2,000 ni-Vanuatu live and work in New Caledonia. Although local pidgin, called Bislama, is the national language, English and French also are official languages. Indigenous Melanesians speak 105 local languages.


Christianity has had a profound influence on ni-Vanuatu society, and an estimated 90% of the population is affiliated with a Christian denomination. The largest denominations are Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, and Anglican. John Frum, a syncretic sect, also is important on Tanna Island.




HISTORY

The prehistory of Vanuatu is obscure; archaeological evidence supports the commonly held theory that peoples speaking Austronesian languages first came to the islands some 4,000 years ago. Pottery fragments have been found dating back to 1300-1100 B.C.


The first island in the Vanuatu group discovered by Europeans was Espiritu Santo, when in 1606 the Portuguese explorer, Pedro Fernandez De Quiros, spied what he thought was a southern continent. Europeans did not return until 1768, when Louis Antoine de Bougainville rediscovered the islands. In 1774, Captain Cook named the islands the New Hebrides, a name that lasted until independence.


In 1825, trader Peter Dillon's discovery of sandal wood on the island of Erromango began a rush that ended in 1830 after a clash between immigrant Polynesian workers and indigenous Melanesians. During the 1860s, planters in Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, and the Samoa Islands, in need of laborers, encouraged a long-term indentured labor trade called "blackbirding." At the height of the labor trade, more than one-half the adult male population of several of the Islands worked abroad.


It was at this time that missionaries, both Catholic and Protestant, arrived on the islands. Settlers also came, looking for land on which to establish cotton plantations. When international cotton prices collapsed, they switched to coffee, cocoa, bananas, and, most successfully, coconuts. Initially, British subjects from Australia made up the majority, but the establishment of the Caledonian Company of the New Hebrides in 1882 soon tipped the balance in favor of French subjects. By the turn of the century, the French outnumbered the British two to one.


The jumbling of French and British interests in the islands brought petitions for one or another of the two powers to annex the territory. In 1906, however, France and the United Kingdom agreed to administer the islands jointly. Called the British-French Condominium, it was a unique form of government, with separate governmental systems that came together only in a joint court. Melanesians were barred from acquiring the citizenship of either power.


Challenges to this form of government began in the early 1940s. The arrival of Americans during World War II, with their informal demeanor and relative wealth, was instrumental in the rise of nationalism in the islands. The belief in a mythical messianic figure named John Frum was the basis for an indigenous cargo cult (a movement attempting to obtain industrial goods through magic) promising Melanesian deliverance. Today, John Frum is both a religion and a political party with two members in Parliament.

The first political party was established in the early 1970s and originally was called the New Hebrides National Party. One of the founders was Father Walter Lini, who later became Prime Minister. Renamed the Vanua'aku Pati in 1974, the party pushed for independence; in 1980, the Republic of Vanuatu was created.




GOVERNMENT

The constitution created a republican political system headed by a president who has primarily ceremonial powers and is elected by a two-thirds majority in an electoral college consisting of members of Parliament and the presidents of Regional Councils. The president serves a 5-year term. The president may be removed by the electoral college for gross misconduct or incapacity. The prime minister, who is the head of government, is elected by a majority vote of a three-fourths quorum of the Parliament. The prime minister in turn appoints the Council of Ministers, whose number may not exceed one-fourth of the number of parliamentary representatives. The prime minister and the Council of Ministers constitute the executive government.


Parliament is a 52-member unicameral house elected by all persons over 18 years old. Parliament normally sits for a 4-year term unless dissolved by majority vote of a three-fourths quorum or a directive from the President on the advice of the prime minister. The national Council of Chiefs, called the Malvatu Mauri and elected by district councils of chiefs, advises the government on all matters concerning ni-Vanuatu culture and language.

The Supreme Court consists of a chief justice and up to three other judges. Two or more members of this court may constitute a Court of Appeal. Magistrate courts handle most routine legal matters. The legal system is based on British law. The constitution also provides for the establishment of village or island courts presided over by chiefs to deal with questions of customary law.


Principal Government Officials
Last Updated: 11/20/03


President: Bani, John, Father

Prime Minister: Natapei, Edward

Dep. Prime Min.: Lini, Ham

Min. of Agriculture, Forestry, Livestock, & Fisheries: Kilman, Sato

Min. of the Comprehensive Reform Program: Boedoro, Philip

Min. of Education: Kalpokas, Donald

Min. of External Trade Development:

Min. of Finance & Management: Molisa, Sela

Min. of Foreign Affairs: Kakases, Moana

Min. of Health: Bule, James

Min. of Industry & Commerce: Tapangarua, Willy Jimmy

Min. of Infrastructure & Public Utilities: Lini, Ham

Min. of Internal Affairs: Natuman, Joe

Min. of Lands, Geology, & Mines: Titeck, Jacklyne Reuben

Min. of Ni-Vanuatu Business Development: Brown, Nicolas

Min. of Telecommunication:

Min. of Youth & Sports: Stephen, Mokin

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York (Acting): Carlot, Alfred Rolland

Vanuatu does not have an embassy in Washington. Its mission to the United Nations is located at 866 UN Plaza, 4th Floor, Room 41, First Avenue and 48th Street, New York, NY 10017. Vanuatu Maritime Services, which provides information on ship registration in Vanuatu, is located at 120 Broadway, Suite 1743, New York, NY 10271.


POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Government and society in Vanuatu tend to divide along linguistic—French and English—lines. Historically, English-speaking politicians such as Walter Lini, Donald Kalpokas, and other leaders of the Vanua'aku Pati favored early independence, whereas French-speaking political leaders favored continuing association with the colonial administrators, particularly France.

On the eve of independence in 1980, Jimmy Stevens' Nagriamel movement, in alliance with private French interests, declared the island of Espiritu Santo independent of the new government. Following independence, Vanuatu requested assistance from Papua New Guinea, whose forces restored order on Santo. From then until 1991, the Vanua'aku Pati and its predominantly English-speaking leadership controlled the Vanuatu Government.


In December 1991, and following a split in the Vanua'aku Pati, Maxime Carlot Korman, leader of the Francophone Union of Moderate Parties (UMP), was elected Vanuatu's first Francophone prime minister. He formed a coalition government with Walter Lini's breakaway VP faction, now named the National United Party (NUP).


Following parliamentary elections on November 30, 1995, Carlot Korman was succeeded by Serge Vohor, a dissident UMP leader. Over the next 2 years, government leadership changed several times thanks to unstable coalitions within the Parliament. In November 1997, the President dissolved Parliament. Following the subsequent election on March 6, 1998, Donald Kalpokas, the leader of the Vanua'aku Pati, was elected prime minister. A vote of no confidence in November 1999 brought Barak Sope to the fore as Prime Minister. Yet another vote of no confidence resulted in the selection of Edward Natapei as Prime Minister in March 2001. Edward Natapei returned as Prime Minister in the May 2002 national parliamentary elections.




ECONOMY

Vanuatu's economy is primarily agricultural; 80% of the population is engaged in agricultural activities that range from subsistence farming to small holder farming of coconuts and other cash crops. Copra is by far the most important cash crop (making up more than 35% of the country's exports), followed by timber, beef, and cocoa. Kava root extract exports also have become important. In addition, the government has maintained Vanuatu's preindependence status as a tax haven and international financial center. About 2,000 registered institutions offer a wide range of offshore banking, investment, legal, accounting, and insurance and trust-company services. Vanuatu also maintains an international shipping register in New York City.

Copra, cocoa, kava and beef account for more than 60% of Vanuatu's total exports by value and agriculture accounts for approximately 20% of GDP. Tourism is Vanuatu's fastest-growing sector, having comprised 40% of GDP in 2000. Industry's portion of GDP declined from 15% to 10% between 1990 and 2000. Government consumption accounted for about 27% of GDP.


Vanuatu is a small country, with only a few commodities, mostly agricultural, produced for export. In 2000, imports exceeded exports by a ratio of nearly 4 to 1. However, this was offset by high services income from tourism, which kept the current account balance fairly even.


Vanuatu claims an exclusive economic zone of 680,000 square kilometers and possesses substantial marine resources. Currently, only a limited number of ni-Vanuatu are involved in fishing, while foreign fleets exploit this potential.


In 1997 the government, with the aid of the Asian Development Bank, committed itself to a 3-year comprehensive reform program. During the first year of the program the Government has adopted a value-added tax, consolidated and reformed government-owned banks, and started a 10% downsizing in the public service. The program was derailed when Barak Sope became Prime Minister. Under Prime Minister Edward Natapei, reform programs have slowly been reintroduced.




FOREIGN RELATIONS

Vanuatu maintains relations with more than 65 countries, including Russia, the People's Republic of China, Cuba, and Vietnam. However, only Australia, the United Kingdom, France, New Zealand, and the People's Republic of China maintain embassies, high commissions, or missions in Port Vila.

The government's main concern has been to bolster the economy. In keeping with its need for financial assistance, Vanuatu has joined the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Agence de Cooperation Culturelle et Technique.


The government encourages private enterprise, foreign investment, and producer cooperatives. Like other developing countries, Vanuatu is particularly interested in enterprises that add value to local primary products and that provide employment. In less lucrative sectors, the government sets up its own production companies or enters joint ventures with foreign investors.


Since 1980, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, and New Zealand have provided the bulk of Vanuatu's development aid. A number of other countries, including Japan, Canada, Germany, and various multilateral organizations, such as the Economic and Social Council for Asia and the Pacific, the UN Development Program, the Asian Development Bank, the European Economic Community, and the Commonwealth Development Corporation also provide developmental aid. The United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Japan also send volunteers.


Vanuatu retains strong economic and cultural ties to Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and France. Australia has provided the bulk of Vanuatu's military assistance, training its paramilitary mobile force and also providing patrol boats to patrol Vanuatu's waters.


Membership in International Organizations

Vanuatu is a member of the United Nations and its specialized and related agencies, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund; South Pacific Commission; South Pacific Forum; Non-Aligned Movement; Commonwealth, Group of 77; and Asian Development Bank (ADB).


U.S.-VANUATU RELATIONS

The United States and Vanuatu established diplomatic relations in 1986. Between 1977 and 1987, Vanuatu received just under $3 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), including projects focusing on assisting the transition to indigenous plantation management. In June 1994, the regional USAID office located in Suva, Fiji, was closed due to U.S. Government budgetary cutbacks. However, the United States remains a major financial contributor to international and regional organizations that assist Vanuatu, including the World Bank, UNICEF, WHO, the UN Fund for Population Activities, and the Asian Development Bank.


In 1989, the United States concluded a Peace Corps agreement with Vanuatu. The Peace Corps has met with a warm welcome there and currently has about 75 volunteers in-country. The United States also provides military training assistance to the Vanuatu Mobile Force, a paramilitary branch of the Vanuatu police.


Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Port Moresby, New Guinea (E), Douglas St. • P.O. Box 1492 • Tel [675] 321-1455, Fax 321-3423; ADM Fax 320-0637.

AMB: Susan S. Jacobs
AMB OMS: Thomas Driscoll
DCM: Theodore S. Pierce
ECO/COM: Mark Prokop
MGT: Raymond Murphy
GSO: Glenn Guimond
CON: Heather Guimond
RSO: Brad McDougle
IPO: Paul Rogers
DAO: COL Andrew Manuele (res. Canberra)
DEA: Gene Sugimoto (res. Canberra)
FAA: Chris Metts (res. Tokyo)


Last Modified: Wednesday, September 24, 2003


TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet
April 21, 2003


Country Description: Vanuatu consists of 80 islands in a Y-shaped archipelago, 1300 miles northeast of Sydney, Australia. It is an independent parliamentary democracy and a member of the British Commonwealth, with a primarily agricultural economy. Tourist facilities are limited outside the capital, Port Vila, which is located on the island of Efate. The National Tourism Office of Vanuatu can be contacted at P.O. Box 209, Port Vila, Vanuatu, tel. (678) 22515/22685/22813, fax (678) 23889, e-mail: [email protected]


Entry Requirements: A passport and an onward/return ticket are required. Visas are not required for stays up to 30 days. For further information on entry requirements, particularly those planning to enter by sailing vessel, please contact the Vanuatu Mission to the United Nations at 42 Broadway, Suite 1200-18, New York, NY 10004, tel. (212) 425-9600, fax (212) 422-3427.


Travelers who plan to transit or visit Australia are advised to obtain an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) or visa for Australia before leaving the United States. The ETA is available to eligible U.S. citizens at time of ticket purchase through travel agents and airlines. More information about the ETA and Australian entry requirements may be obtained from the Australian Embassy at 1601 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036, tel. (202) 797-3000, or via the Australian Embassy home page on the Internet at http://www.austemb.org.


In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

Safety and Security: For the latest security in formation, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's Internet website at http://travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Public Announcements can be found.


Civil disorder is rare, however U.S. citizens are advised to avoid public demonstrations and/or political rallies if and when they occur.


Crime: Although violent crime is rare in Vanuatu, petty theft does occur. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy, which is located in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. If you are the victim of a crime while in Vanuatu, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby for assistance. The Embassy staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.


U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, "A Safe Trip Abroad," for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.


Medical Facilities: Medical facilities are limited. The nearest reliable medical treatment is in Australia or New Zealand. There is a hyperbaric recompression chamber in Luganville, on Espiritu Santo Island, however diving-related injuries may require medical evacuation to Australia or New Zealand. Malaria is prevalent in some areas. Serious injuries requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States or elsewhere can cost thousands of dollars. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for their services.


Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency services such as medical evacuations.


When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the United States may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.


Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.

Other Health Information: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.


Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Vanuatu is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.


Safety of Public Transportation: Good

Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good to Poor

Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor

Availability of Roadside Assistance: Not available


Vanuatu is a chain of islands and atolls; most long-distance travel is by air or sea. Only the capital city of Port Vila (on Efate Island) and the town of Luganville (on Espiritu Santo Island) have paved roads, which have a speed limit of 50 kilometers per hour. These paved roads can be quite narrow in spots; drivers should take care especially at night or along unfamiliar routes. The roads in all other areas are unpaved or dirt tracks. Drivers on all roads should give way to traffic coming from the right. Travelers must take care when driving off main roads to avoid trespassing on communal land.


For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information concerning Vanuatu driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the National Tourism Office of Vanuatu or the Vanuatu Mission to the United Nations.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service by local carriers at present, or economic authority to operate such service, between the United States and Vanuatu, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Vanuatu's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at tel. 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa.


The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at tel. (618) 229-4801.


Customs Regulations: Vanuatu customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation of items such as firearms, sexually explicit material and certain prescription medications. It is advisable to contact the Vanuatu Mission to the United Nations for specific information regarding customs requirements.


Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Vanuatu laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Vanuatu are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.


Consular Access: U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available.


Disaster Preparedness: Vanuatu is prone to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, sudden tidal movements, tropical storms and cyclones. The Pacific cyclone season lasts from November through March. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov.


Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone the Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747. The OCS call center can answer general inquiries regarding international adoptions and will forward calls to the appropriate country officer in the Bureau of Consular Affairs. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. Federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.

Registration/Embassy and Consulate Locations: There is no U.S. Embassy or diplomatic post in Vanuatu. Americans living in or visiting Vanuatu are encouraged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea and obtain updated information on travel and security within Vanuatu. The U.S. Embassy is located on Douglas Street, adjacent to the Bank of Papua New Guinea. This address should be used for courier deliveries. The mailing address is P.O. Box 1492, Port Moresby, NCD 121, Papua New Guinea; tel. (675)321-1455; fax (675) 321-1593; e-mail [email protected]

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Vanuatu

Vanuatu

POPULATION 196,178
PRESBYTERIAN 32 percent
ANGLICAN 14 percent
ROMAN CATHOLICISM 13 percent
SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST 11 percent
CHURCH OF CHRIST 4 percent
ASSEMBLIES OF GOD 4 percent
NEIL THOMAS MINISTRIES 3 percent
OTHER 11.4 percent
INDIGENOUS BELIEFS 7.6 percent

Country Overview

INTRODUCTION

The Republic of Vanuatu (known as the New Hebrides before gaining independence in 1980) is an archipelago of 83 islands in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The interiors of the large islands are mountainous and heavily forested. Five active volcanoes, together with seasonal cyclones, make the islands vulnerable to natural disasters. The country's economy is developing, and the majority of the population are subsistence farmers.

The islands were colonized by Britain and France, who formed a condominium (a jointly ruled government) in 1907, resulting in a system of divided loyalties in Vanuatu that influenced the European languages learned, the quality of education acquired, and the attitude toward the incorporation of the kastom (traditional, or customary) religious orientation of the island peoples.

Christianity in Vanuatu combines the philosophical and theological tenets and practices of its various churches with a worldview that has developed out of a long history of pre-Christian orientation to the cosmos. Offerings to creator beings, whose names Christian missionaries frequently used as translation for "God," are still made in some islands. Most illnesses and deaths were, and to a large degree still are, attributed to occult forces; healers frequently combine their traditional expertise with Christian faith healing. In the pre-Christian era, and to an extent still today, the worlds of the living and the dead interpenetrate, and ancestors are extremely important. Encounters with spirits and ghosts, which may be benign and helpful or malign and harmful, are accepted as out of the ordinary but not uncommon. Vanuatu Christianity and contemporary pagan thought are deeply entangled and influence each other.

RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE

Religious tolerance is enshrined in the constitution of Vanuatu. Opposition to the proliferation of Christian denominations that have been active in Vanuatu since independence led, in 1995, to the passage in Parliament of the Religious Bodies Act, requiring new churches to be registered. The act has never been enforced, but non-Christian religions, such as Islam, are not permitted to teach their faiths in government schools.

Major Religion

CHRISTIANITY

DATE OF ORIGIN Mid-nineteenth century c.e.
NUMBER OF FOLLOWERS 186,400

HISTORY

The first missionaries arrived in Vanuatu in 1839. Initially the islanders did not welcome them. Many missionaries were killed (fewer than 10 of them European); many others died of diseases, such as malaria. Most were Protestant Polynesian teachers whose deaths were rarely well documented. The introduction of European diseases caused massive depopulation.

Marist priests began working in the islands in the 1880s after an earlier abortive mission in the 1840s. In the second half of the nineteenth century, thousands of New Hebrideans (now called ni-Vanuatu) were recruited to work on plantations in New Caledonia, Fiji, and northern Australia; many became Christians during their period of indenture.

At the outbreak of World War I, almost every island contained some Christians who were Protestant and anglophone and some who were Catholic and francophone, as well as others who rejected Christianity in favor of traditional life (kastom). At the end of World War II, in most of the central and northern islands and the southern island of Tanna, there were still substantial populations of non-Christians, some resolutely opposed to Christianity. By the time independence was declared (1980), few non-Christians remained except in the island of Tanna, where today they outnumber Presbyterians.

Seventh-day Adventists appeared in Vanuatu in the early nineteenth century and have recently enlarged their congregations at the expense of the more established churches. Since the 1970s smaller Christian denominations (including Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Holiness Fellowship, and Assemblies of God) have proliferated in Vanuatu.

EARLY AND MODERN LEADERS

Early church leaders were mostly European. On every island many ni-Vanuatu played important roles in the evangelization of their communities. The most influential Christian leaders to emerge also advocated freedom from colonial rule. Father Walter Lini, an Anglican priest who became Vanuatu's first prime minister, led the independence movement and founded the Vanua'aku Party. Another influential leader was francophone Father Gérard Leymang, an ordained Catholic priest. More controversial was Jimmy Steven, the charismatic leader of the 1960s land rights movement Nagriamel. Christened Moses in the Church of Christ and founder of his own Royal Church of Vanuatu, Steven was jailed for his role in the rebellion in Santo that preceded independence in 1980.

MAJOR THEOLOGIANS AND AUTHORS

Anglican priest Walter Lini was influential in combining nationalism and liberation theology. Melanesian liberation theology was anticolonial and promoted the inseparability of church and state. Also active in the project of reconciling indigenous beliefs and practices of Vanuatu with Christian theology were Catholic priest Father Gérard Leymang and Chief Willie Bongmatur Malro.

HOUSES OF WORSHIP AND HOLY PLACES

The church is the center of Christian worship in Vanuatu, but sites of martyrdom of early missionaries are also considered holy places. Indigenous sacred places exist on all islands and are respected by most Christians.

WHAT IS SACRED?

Sacred to most of Vanuatu's Christians are their churches and certain Christian items, ancestral places, and insignia. Some of these have been incorporated into the national emblem of Vanuatu: the leaf of the cycas palm (namele), signifying peace, and the spiral curved boar's tusk, a sign of chiefly power, unity, and prosperity.

HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Christmas Day are public holidays. In addition, Vanuatu celebrates Ascension Thursday in May (40 days after Easter), which, though not a public holiday, is a day of special prayer marking the Ascension of Jesus Christ. On 15 August, there is a public holiday to mark Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven. The kastom ceremonies that accompany the digging of first yams, Vanuatu's most important crop, are now also celebrated as harvest festivals by the churches from New Year's Day to early April.

MODE OF DRESS

Nineteenth-century missionaries disapproved of the traditional clothing of the islanders (penis wrappers or mat skirts for men; girdles and fiber or mat skirts for women), which are still worn in a few villages. Christian men were encouraged to wear trousers and shirts, while women were taught how to make a cotton dress known as a Mother Hubbard, which is still worn today. Western-style dress is favored in the towns, particularly by young people.

DIETARY PRACTICES

There are no particular dietary practices observed by Christians in Vanuatu that are not observed elsewhere. Some denominations discourage or forbid the consumption of alcohol and kava (a traditional, popular drink made from the root of the plant Piper methysticum). Traditionally, in the north-central region, men ate only boars and women only sows, a practice that continues for some older, more recent converts and traditional people.

RITUALS

Whether Christian or not, every local group has some practitioners with acquired or inherited powers who act as mediators between the living and the world of spirits and ancestors, as well as leaders who perform rituals (on behalf of their groups) that frequently involve interaction with the spiritual realm. In many islands ritual kava drinking was a male activity that enhanced communion with ancestral spirits. Ceremonial kava drinking is important in contemporary Vanuatu, particularly in Tanna. Religion and politics were intertwined in the past, as now. Important ritual complexes that culminated in the sacrifice of boars, providing spiritual advancement and status, were wide-spread until the 1970s in areas where missionaries did not prohibit them, and continue, transformed, in some areas, including Ambae and Tanna.

All the major rituals of the different Christian churches present in Vanuatu are practiced by Vanuatu Christians. Prayer is an important part of events for ni-Vanuatu and accompanies everyday meals and most significant activities of social life, such as opening and closing meetings or work events and feasts.

RITES OF PASSAGE

Many important rites of passage—such as birth, marriage, and death—are celebrated by Vanuatu Christians in church ceremonies and in kastom (traditional) exchanges of food and wealth between kinsfolk. Similarly, many kastom events are accompanied by Christian worship or prayer. Boys in many areas are still circumcised or incised (the foreskin is cut but not removed) in kastom ceremonies that are today usually consecrated by church ministers or attended by prayer.

MEMBERSHIP

In the 1990s, and especially leading up to the millennium, church membership became more fluid, with individuals moving between denominations. Protestant evangelical campaigns, particularly involving young people, are a popular and common means of securing a renewal of faith in rural areas. Only radio reaches the majority of Vanuatu's population. While leaders recognize a role for the churches in television (introduced in the urban centers in the 1990s), the radio broadcast of Sunday sermons has had a greater significance for the majority of Christians.

SOCIAL JUSTICE

The Vanuatu constitution's preamble endorses a commitment to traditional values and Christian principles. The body of the constitution refers to freedom of conscience and worship, and it enjoins children to respect their parents and parents to support and educate their children in both national objectives and Vanuatu culture and customs. All major Vanuatu Christian churches espouse and encourage teaching and activities concerning poverty, education, and human rights.

SOCIAL ASPECTS

Ni-Vanuatu consider the family to be the center of social life. Before independence bride-wealth payments (made on behalf of the groom's family to the bride's family) were limited by most churches; the revival of kastom life stimulated an inflation of bride-wealth and other goods exchanged between the families of bride and groom. Divorce rates have increased considerably since the 1970s, and it is not uncommon now for children to be born outside of marriage.

POLITICAL IMPACT

In the nineteenth century established political leaders saw Christian conversion as a threat to their power and influence and were often militant in opposing missionaries. In some islands hostility between Christians and non-Christians was often intense up to the 1980s, when church leaders emphasized the importance of reconciling custom with Christian commitment, so long as they were not in conflict.

Walter Lini and other Christian leaders emphasized the importance of the political role of the Christian churches and the necessity for political leaders to be ardent Christians. There have been several millenarian movements (in which prophets tell of the imminent return of ancestors or Americans, as in the case of the Jon Frum movement [dating from about 1940] in Tanna) that were anti-European and antimissionary, predicting the arrival of vast wealth, the knowledge of which was selfishly kept by Europeans. Both the Jon Frum movement and the land rights movement Nagriamel (which arose in the 1960s) have survived and, in a transformed fashion, still participate in the national political scene.

CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES

The Vanuatu Christian churches do not have a unified view on social issues. For example, a prominent role for women in the church and social life is upheld and promoted by some denominations but not others. While the ordination of women is supported by some Protestants, others oppose it, as do Roman Catholics. Presbyterians support women's issues and rights through their women's groups, but women cannot become ministers. The position is similar for Anglicans, except that women may become deacons but not ministers. The Roman Catholic Church is strong on social justice issues, but there is no role for women in the church—only among the laity. While some traditional cultural practices (such as reciprocal obligations to kinsfolk) are lauded, others (such as sorcery) are condemned.

Sexual activity outside marriage is opposed by all denominations. Attitudes concerning contraception, abortion, and divorce vary. Feminists consider kastom attitudes toward women to be oppressive.

CULTURAL IMPACT

During the 1970s a serious revival of kastom practices began among Christians, and many important techniques and practices were recovered and disseminated through the auspices of the Vanuatu Cultural Centre. Today all cultural and artistic events begin and end with prayer. Ni-Vanuatu poets, such as the late Grace Mera Molisa, have frequently addressed the problematic relationship between kastom, Christianity, and modernity in their work.

Other Religions

A small number of non-Christians remain on the islands of Pentecost, Ambrym, Malakula, and Santo; many more remain in Tanna. Their opposition to Christianity is as much a legacy of the colonial period and a political stance as it is a matter of religious adherence. Their contemporary religious views, while pagan, are influenced by a long history of interaction with Christianity.

Since the 1970s revival of kastom, practices deemed magical or evil (like sorcery) have been viewed with considerable ambivalence. Evangelical campaigns to rid island communities of sorcery have been limited by its involvement in everyday life as an explanation for success and misfortune.

Mary Patterson

See Also Vol. 1: Anglicanism/Episcopalianism, Christianity, Seventh-day Adventist Church, Roman Catholicism

Bibliography

Aaron, Daniel Bangtor, et al. Yumi Stanap: Leaders and Leadership in a New Nation. Edited by Brian Macdonald-Milne and Pamela Thomas. Suva: Institute of Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific, 1981.

Allen, Michael, ed. Vanuatu: Politics, Economics, and Ritual in Island Melanesia. Sydney and New York: Academic Press, 1981.

Bonnemaison, Joël. The Tree and the Canoe. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1994.

Bonnemaison, Joël, et al., eds. Arts of Vanuatu. Bathurst, Australia: Crawford House Publishing, 1996.

Codrington, R.H. "Religious Beliefs and Practices in Melanesia." Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 10 (1881): 261–316.

MacClancy, Jeremy. To Kill a Bird with Two Stones: A Short History of Vanuatu. Port-Vila: Vanuatu Cultural Centre, 1980.

Miles, William F.S. Bridging Mental Boundaries in a Postcolonial Microcosm. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1998.

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Vanuatu

VANUATU

Compiled from the December 2004 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Vanuatu


PROFILE

Geography

Area: Land—12,200 sq. km. (4,707 sq. mi.), includes more than 80 Islands. Comparative area—about the size of Connecticut.

Cities: Capital—Port Vila (on the island of Efate), pop. 30,000. Other towns—Luganville (on the island of Espiritu Santo, also known as Santo).

Terrain: Mostly mountains of volcanic origin, narrow coastal plains.

Climate: Tropical.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—ni-Vanuatu.

Population: (2003 est.) 208,000.

Annual growth rate: (2003 est.) 2.7%.

Ethnic groups: 94% ni-Vanuatu; 4% European; 2% other Pacific Islanders, Asian.

Religions: Predominantly Christian.

Languages: Bislama (Pidgin), English, French, over 100 tribal languages.

Education: Enrollment in primary is 100% with rapid fall-off to 20% in secondary and upper secondary. Adult literacy rate (2004)—53% of those age 15 and older.

Health: Infant mortality rate (2004) 56.63/1,000. Life expectancy (2004) 62.1 yrs.

Work force: (1999) 134,000. Agriculture—65%. Industry—5%. Service—30%.

Government

Type: Parliamentary democracy.

Independence: July 30, 1980.

Constitution: July 30, 1980.

Branches: Executive—president (head of state), prime minister (head of government). Legislative—unicameral (52-member parliament). Judicial—Supreme Court.

Administrative subdivisions: 6 administrative districts.

Political parties: Vanua'aku Pati, Union of Moderate Parties, Melanesian Progressive Party, National United Party, People's Democratic Party, John Frum.

Suffrage: Universal over 18.

National holiday: July 30.

Economy

GDP: (2003) $281 million.

Per capita income: (2003) $1,180.

Real growth rate: (2000) 1.6%.

Avg. inflation rate: (2002) 2%.

Natural resources: Forests, agricultural land, marine resources.

Agriculture: Products—copra, cocoa, coffee, cattle, timber.

Industry: Types—copra production, beef processing, sawmilling, tourism, financial services.

Trade: (2003) Exports—$92 million: cocoa, beef and veal, copra, timber, kava, coffee. Major markets—India 31.9%, Thailand 27.5%, South Korea 10.2%, Indonesia 6.1%, Australia 4.6%, Japan 4.1%, Germany 1.4%, United States 1.2%. Imports—$136 million: machines and transport equipment, foodstuffs, fuel, basic manufactures, chemicals, miscellaneous manufactures. Major suppliers—Australia 22.9%, Singapore 12.1%, New Zealand 9.9%, Fiji 7.4%, France 5.8%, India 5.5$%, Japan 3.1%, US 1.1%.

Official exchange rate: (2003 avg.) 122 vatu=U.S.$1.


GEOGRAPHY

Vanuatu is a 'Y' shaped archipelago that comprises 80 islands. It is located 2,172 kilometers (1,303 mi.) northeast of Sydney and 5,750 kilometers (3,450 mi.) southwest of Honolulu. Fiji lies to the east, New Caledonia to the south, and the Solomon Islands to the northwest, all within the area of the South Pacific called Melanesia.

The two largest islands, Espiritu Santo (or Santo) and Malakula, account for nearly one-half of the total land area. They are volcanic, with sharp mountain peaks, plateaus, and lowlands. The last volcanic eruption was in 1945. The larger islands of the remaining half also are volcanic but are overlaid with limestone formations; the smaller ones are coral and limestone. Rainfall averages about 2,360 millimeters (94 in.) per year but can be as high as 4,000 millimeters (160 in.) in the northern islands.


PEOPLE

The population of Vanuatu is 94% indigenous Melanesian. About 30,000 live in the capital, Port Vila. Another 10,700 live in Luganville (or Santo Town) on Espiritu Santo. The remainder live in rural areas. Approximately 2,000 ni-Vanuatu live and work in New Caledonia. Although local pidgin, called Bislama, is the national language, English and French also are official languages. Indigenous Melanesians speak 105 local languages.

Christianity has had a profound influence on ni-Vanuatu society, and an estimated 90% of the population is affiliated with a Christian denomination. The largest denominations are Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, and Anglican. John Frum, a syncretic sect, also is important on Tanna Island.


HISTORY

The prehistory of Vanuatu is obscure; archaeological evidence supports the commonly held theory that peoples speaking Austronesian languages first came to the islands some 4,000 years ago. Pottery fragments have been found dating back to 1300-1100 B.C.

The first island in the Vanuatu group discovered by Europeans was Espiritu Santo, when in 1606 the Portuguese explorer, Pedro Fernandez De Quiros, spied what he thought was a southern continent. Europeans did not return until 1768, when Louis Antoine de Bougainville rediscovered the islands. In 1774, Captain Cook named the islands the New Hebrides, a name that lasted until independence.

In 1825, trader Peter Dillon's discovery of sandalwood on the island of Erromango began a rush that ended in 1830 after a clash between immigrant Polynesian workers and indigenous Melanesians. During the 1860s, planters in Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, and the Samoa Islands, in need of laborers, encouraged a long-term indentured labor trade called "blackbirding." At the height of the labor trade, more than one-half the adult male population of several of the Islands worked abroad. Fragmentary evidence indicates that the current population of Vanuatu is greatly reduced compared to pre-contact times.

It was at this time that missionaries, both Catholic and Protestant, arrived on the islands. Settlers also came, looking for land on which to establish cotton plantations. When international cotton prices collapsed, they switched to coffee, cocoa, bananas, and, most successfully, coconuts. Initially, British subjects from Australia made up the majority, but the establishment of the Caledonian Company of the New Hebrides in 1882 soon tipped the balance in favor of French subjects. By the turn of the century, the French outnumbered the British two to one.

The jumbling of French and British interests in the islands brought petitions for one or another of the two powers to annex the territory. In 1906, however, France and the United Kingdom agreed to administer the islands jointly. Called the British-French Condominium, it was a unique form of government, with separate governmental systems that came together only in a joint court. Melanesians were barred from acquiring the citizenship of either power.

Challenges to this form of government began in the early 1940s. The arrival of Americans during World War II, with their informal demeanor and relative wealth, was instrumental in the rise of nationalism in the islands. The belief in a mythical messianic figure named John Frum was the basis for an indigenous cargo cult (a movement attempting to obtain industrial goods through magic) promising Melanesian deliverance. Today, John Frum is both a religion and a political party with two members in Parliament.

The first political party was established in the early 1970s and originally was called the New Hebrides National Party. One of the founders was Father Walter Lini, who later became Prime Minister. Renamed the Vanua'aku Pati in 1974, the party pushed for independence; in 1980, the Republic of Vanuatu was created.


GOVERNMENT

The constitution created a republican political system headed by a president who has primarily ceremonial powers and is elected by a two-thirds majority in an electoral college consisting of members of Parliament and the presidents of Regional Councils. The president serves a 5-year term. The president may be removed by the electoral college for gross misconduct or incapacity. The prime minister, who is the head of government, is elected by a majority vote of a three-fourths quorum of the Parliament. The prime minister in turn appoints the Council of Ministers, whose number may not exceed one-fourth of the number of parliamentary representatives. The prime minister and the Council of Ministers constitute the executive government.

Parliament is a 52-member unicameral house elected by all persons over 18 years old. Parliament normally sits for a 4-year term unless dissolved by majority vote of a three-fourths quorum or a directive from the president on the advice of the prime minister. The national Council of Chiefs, called the Malvatu Mauri and elected by district councils of chiefs, advises the government on all matters concerning ni-Vanuatu culture and language.

The Supreme Court consists of a chief justice and up to three other judges. Two or more members of this court may constitute a Court of Appeal. Magistrate courts handle most routine legal matters. The legal system is based on British law. The constitution also provides for the establishment of village or island courts presided over by chiefs to deal with questions of customary law.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 11/29/04

President: Kelekele , Kalkot Matas
Prime Minister: Vohor , Serge
Dep. Prime Min.: Lini , Ham
Min. of Agriculture, Forestry, & Fisheries: Kalsakau , Steven
Min. of the Comprehensive Reform Program: Sope Maautamate , Barak
Min. of Education: Natuman , Joseph
Min. of Finance & Economic Development: Carcasses , Moana
Min. of Foreign Affairs: Marcellino , Pipite
Min. of Health: Song , Keasipal
Min. of Home Affairs: Lini , Ham
Min. of Lands, Geology, & Mines: Salwai , Charlot
Min. of Ni-Vanuatu Business Development: Steven , Morkin
Min. of Public Utilities: Jimmy , Willie
Min. of Trade & Business Development: Bule , James
Min. of Youth & Sports: Tore , Pierre
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Carlot , Alfred Rolland

Vanuatu does not have an embassy in Washington. Its mission to the United Nations is located at 866 UN Plaza, 4th Floor, Room 41, First Avenue and 48th Street, New York, NY 10017. Vanuatu Maritime Services, which provides information on ship registration in Vanuatu, is located at 120 Broadway, Suite 1743, New York, NY 10271.


POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Government and society in Vanuatu tend to divide along linguistic—French and English—lines. Historically, English-speaking politicians

such as Walter Lini, Donald Kalpokas, and other leaders of the Vanua'aku Pati favored early independence, whereas French-speaking political leaders favored continuing association with the colonial administrators, particularly France.

On the eve of independence in 1980, Jimmy Stevens' Nagriamel movement, in alliance with private French interests and backed by American libertarians hoping to establish a tax-free haven, declared the island of Espiritu Santo independent of the new government. Following independence, Vanuatu requested assistance from Papua New Guinea, whose forces restored order on Santo. From then until 1991, the Vanua'aku Pati and its predominantly English-speaking leadership controlled the Vanuatu Government.

In December 1991, and following a split in the Vanua'aku Pati, Maxime Carlot Korman, leader of the Franco-phone Union of Moderate Parties (UMP), was elected Vanuatu's first Francophone prime minister. He formed a coalition government with Walter Lini's breakaway VP faction, now named the National United Party (NUP).

Following parliamentary elections on November 30, 1995, Carlot Korman was succeeded by Serge Vohor, a dissident UMP leader. Over the next 2 years, government leadership changed several times thanks to unstable coalitions within the Parliament. In November 1997, the President dissolved Parliament. Following the subsequent election on March 6, 1998, Donald Kalpokas, the leader of the Vanua'aku Pati, was elected Prime Minister. A vote of no confidence in November 1999 brought Barak Sope to the fore as Prime Minister. Yet another vote of no confidence resulted in the selection of Edward Natapei as Prime Minister in March 2001. Edward Natapei returned as Prime Minister in the May 2002 national parliamentary elections.

The president dissolved Parliament in May 2004 to forestall a vote of no confidence and called a special election that resulted in losses for most major parties. Serge Vohor returned as Prime Minister at the head of an unwieldy coalition government. Following controversy over Vohor's attempt to extend diplomatic relations to Taiwan, he was ousted by a vote of no confidence in December 2004 and replaced by Ham Lini. The new coalition includes ten parties and features the former opposition leader, Sato Kilman, as Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister.


ECONOMY

Vanuatu's economy is primarily agricultural; 80% of the population is engaged in agricultural activities that range from subsistence farming to smallholder farming of coconuts and other cash crops. Copra is by far the most important cash crop (making up more than 35% of the country's exports), followed by timber, beef, and cocoa. Kava root extract exports also have become important. In addition, the government has maintained Vanuatu's preindependence status as a tax haven and international off-shore financial center. About 2,000 registered institutions offer a wide range of offshore banking, investment, legal, accounting, and insurance and trust-company services. Vanuatu also maintains an international shipping register in New York City. In 2002, following increasing international concern over the potential for money laundering, Vanuatu increased oversight and reporting requirements for its off-shore sector.

Copra, cocoa, kava and beef account for more than 60% of Vanuatu's total exports by value and agriculture accounts for approximately 20% of GDP. Tourism is Vanuatu's fastestgrowing sector, having comprised 40% of GDP in 2000. Industry's portion of GDP declined from 15% to 10% between 1990 and 2000. Government consumption accounted for about 27% of GDP.

Vanuatu is a small country, with only a few commodities, mostly agricultural, produced for export. In 2000, imports exceeded exports by a ratio of nearly 4 to 1. However, this was offset by high services income from tourism, which kept the current account balance fairly even.

Vanuatu claims an exclusive economic zone of 680,000 square kilometers and possesses substantial marine resources. Currently, only a limited number of ni-Vanuatu are involved in fishing, while foreign fleets exploit this potential.

In 1997 the government, with the aid of the Asian Development Bank, committed itself to a 3-year comprehensive reform program. During the first year of the program the Government has adopted a value-added tax, consolidated and reformed governmentowned banks, and started a 10% downsizing in the public service. The program was derailed when Barak Sope became Prime Minister. Under Prime Minister Edward Natapei, reform programs have slowly been reintroduced.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Vanuatu maintains relations with more than 65 countries, including Russia, the People's Republic of China, Cuba, and Vietnam. However, only Australia, the United Kingdom, France, New Zealand, and the People's Republic of China maintain embassies, high commissions, or missions in Port Vila.

The government's main concern has been to bolster the economy. In keeping with its need for financial assistance, Vanuatu has joined the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Agence de Cooperation Culturelle et Technique.

The government encourages private enterprise, foreign investment, and producer cooperatives. Like other developing countries, Vanuatu is particularly interested in enterprises that add value to local primary products and that provide employment. In less lucrative sectors, the government sets up its own production companies or enters joint ventures with foreign investors.

Since 1980, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, and New Zealand have provided the bulk of Vanuatu's development aid. A number of other countries, including Japan, Canada, Germany, and various multilateral organizations, such as the Economic and Social Council for Asia and the Pacific, the UN Development Program, the Asian Development Bank, the European Economic Community, and the Commonwealth Development Corporation also provide developmental aid. The United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Japan also send volunteers.

Vanuatu retains strong economic and cultural ties to Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and France. Australia has provided the bulk of Vanuatu's military assistance, training its paramilitary mobile force and also providing patrol boats to patrol Vanuatu's waters.

Membership in International Organizations

Vanuatu is a member of the United Nations and its specialized and related agencies, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund; South Pacific Commission; South Pacific Forum; Non-Aligned Movement; Commonwealth, Group of 77; and Asian Development Bank (ADB).


U.S.-VANUATU RELATIONS

The United States and Vanuatu established diplomatic relations in 1986. Between 1977 and 1987, Vanuatu received just under $3 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), including projects focusing on assisting the transition to indigenous plantation management. In June 1994, the regional USAID office located in Suva, Fiji, was closed due to U.S. Government budgetary cutbacks. The U.S. military retains training links and conducts ad hoc assistance projects in the island. However, the United States remains a major financial contributor to international and regional organizations that assist Vanuatu, including the World Bank, UNICEF, WHO, the UN Fund for Population Activities, and the Asian Development Bank.

In 1989, the United States concluded a Peace Corps agreement with Vanuatu. The Peace Corps has met with a warm welcome there and currently has about 75 volunteers in-country. The United States also provides military training assistance to the Vanuatu Mobile Force, a paramilitary branch of the Vanuatu police.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

PORT MORESBY (E) Address: Douglas Street, P.O. Box 1492, NCD Port Moresby; Phone: 675-321-1455; Fax: 675-320-0637; INMARSAT Tel: 011-872-1534721; Workweek: 7:45am -4:30pm

AMB:Robert Fitts
AMB OMS:VACANT
DCM:Thomas Niblock
MGT:Margaret L. Genco
AFSA:Guy Margalith
CLO:Angela M. Niblock
ECO/COM:Eric Catalfamo
GSO:Guy Margalith
IPO:Ken Kobilarcik
ISSO:Ken Kobilarcik
RSO:A.D. Aderinto
Last Updated: 10/4/2004

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

September 14, 2004

Country Description: Vanuatu consists of 80 islands in a Y-shaped archipelago, 1300 miles northeast of Sydney, Australia. It is an independent parliamentary democracy and a member of the British Commonwealth, with a primarily agricultural economy. Tourist facilities are limited outside the capital, Port Vila, which is located on the island of Efate.

Entry/Exit Requirements: A passport and an onward/return ticket are required. Visas are not required for stays up to 30 days. For further information on entry requirements, particularly those planning to enter by sailing vessel, please contact the Vanuatu Mission to the United Nations at 42 Broadway, Suite 1200-18, New York, NY 10004, tel. (212) 425-9600, fax (212) 422-3427. The National Tourism Office of Vanuatu can be contacted at P.O. Box 209, Port Vila, Vanuatu, tel. (678) 22515/22685/22813, fax (678) 23889, e-mail: [email protected]

Travelers who plan to transit or visit Australia are advised to obtain an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) or visa for Australia before leaving the United States. The ETA is available to eligible U.S. citizens at time of ticket purchase through travel agents and airlines. More information about the ETA and Australian entry requirements may be obtained from the Australian Embassy at 1601 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036, tel. (202) 797-3000, or via the Australian Embassy home page on the Internet at http://www.austemb.org.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

Safety and Security: Civil disorder is rare; however, U.S. citizens are advised to avoid public demonstrations and/or political rallies if and when they occur. It is advisable for females to avoid jogging or walking alone in urban or rural areas.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up to date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States, or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-317-472-2328. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime: Although violent crime is rare in Vanuatu, petty theft does occur. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy, which is located in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. If you are the victim of a crime while in Vanuatu, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby for assistance. The Embassy staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.

Medical Facilities: Medical facilities are limited. The nearest reliable medical treatment is in Australia or New Zealand. There is a hyperbaric recompression chamber in Luganville, on Espiritu Santo Island; however, diving-related injuries may require medical evacuation to Australia or New Zealand. Malaria is prevalent in some areas. Serious injuries requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States or elsewhere can cost thousands of dollars. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for their services.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency services such as medical evacuations.

When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the United States may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page.

Other Health Information: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Vanuatu is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance:

Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good to Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Not available

Vanuatu is a chain of islands and atolls; most long-distance travel is by air or sea. Only the capital city of Port Vila (on Efate Island) and the town of Luganville (on Espiritu Santo Island) have paved roads, which have a speed limit of 50 kilometers per hour. These paved roads can be quite narrow in spots; drivers should take care, especially at night or along unfamiliar routes. The roads in all other areas are unpaved or dirt tracks. Drivers on all roads should give way to traffic coming from the right. Travelers must take care when driving off main roads to avoid trespassing on communal land.

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, home page at travel.state.gov/travel/abroad_road safety.html. For specific information concerning Vanuatu driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the National Tourism Office of Vanuatu or the Vanuatu Mission to the United Nations.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service by local carriers at present, or economic authority to operate such service, between the United States and Vanuatu, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Vanuatu's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at tel. 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.

Customs Regulations: Vanuatu customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation of items such as firearms, sexually explicit material and certain prescription medications. It is advisable to contact the Vanuatu Mission to the United Nations for specific information regarding customs requirements.

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products are illegal and bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines. A current list of those countries with serious problems in this regard can be found here.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Vanuatu laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Vanuatu are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

Under the PROTECT Act of April 2003, it is a crime, prosecutable in the United States, for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien, to engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18, whether or not the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident alien intended to engage in such illicit sexual conduct prior to going abroad. For purposes of the PROTECT Act, illicit sexual conduct includes any commercial sex act in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18. The law defines a commercial sex act as any sex act, on account of which anything of value is given to or received by a person under the age of 18.

Under the Protection of Children from Sexual Predators Act of 1998, it is a crime to use the mail or any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transmit information about a minor under the age of 16 for criminal sexual purposes that include, among other things, the production of child pornography. This same law makes it a crime to use any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transport obscene materials to minors under the age of 16.

Disaster Preparedness: Vanuatu is prone to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, sudden tidal movements, tropical storms and cyclones. The Pacific cyclone season lasts from November through April. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/family/index.html or telephone the Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747. The OCS call center can answer general inquiries regarding international adoptions and will forward calls to the appropriate country officer in the Bureau of Consular Affairs. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. Federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.

Registration/Embassy and Consulate Locations: There is no U.S. Embassy or diplomatic post in Vanuatu. Americans living or traveling in Vanuatu are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Vanuatu. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

Persons who have previously registered with the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby are requested to please reregister on line to update your records. The U.S. Embassy is located on Douglas Street, adjacent to the Bank of Papua New Guinea. This address should be used for courier deliveries. The Embassy's mailing address is P.O. Box 1492, Port Moresby, NCD 121, Papua New Guinea. Tel. (675) 321-1455; fax (675) 321-1593; American citizens may submit consular inquiries by e-mail to [email protected]

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Vanuatu

Vanuatu

Vanuatu comprises a Y-shaped archipelago of sixty-five inhabited tropical islands located in the Western Pacific. Formerly known as the New Hebrides, the country obtained independence on July 30, 1980. The population, estimated at around 200,000 in 2005, is highly ethno-linguistically diverse, with around 110 indigenous languages spoken in addition to French, British and a Pigin lingua franca called Bislama.

The New Hebrides was originally settled around 3,000 years ago, during the Austronesian migrations from East Asia across the Pacific. From the 1860s onward, "blackbirding" vessels recruited indentured laborers among the islands to work on plantations in Queensland or Fiji, or in a variety of occupations in neighboring New Caledonia (which had become a French colony in 1853). Competition between British and French settlers led to the establishment of a joint Anglo-French Naval Commission in 1887. As part of the Entente Cordiale agreement between Britain and France, in 1906 the country became a jointly run Anglo-French condominium, with separate British and French administrations.

Leading up to independence in 1980, divisions emerged between islanders identifying with the British and French administrations (Anglophones and Francophones), with active intervention from the French Residency in the capital, Port Vila, and neighboring New Caledonia. Victory for the Anglophone Vanua'aku Parti at the polls in 1979 triggered a secessionist rebellion on Santo in the northern part of the group and Tanna toward the south, which was ultimately crushed by the deployment of British, French, and, crucially, Papua New Guinea troops.

Led by the Anglican minister Walter Hayde Lini (1971–1999), the Vanua'aku Parti government proved able to secure victory at all elections held until 1991. Ever since, the country has witnessed greater instability under successive fragile coalition governments. Large numbers of independents and candidates representing small political parties contest elections, with the consequence that victors often secure only a small share of the vote.

Vanuatu is one of the poorer of the Pacific countries. Around 80 percent of the population live in rural areas, mainly reliant on subsistence cultivation. Overseas aid accounts for around a fourth of gross national product, and most formal employment is in the tourism and government sectors. The country's main exports are copra, kava, beef, cocoa, timber, and coffee.

The 1980 constitution, which was agreed on by the French and British governments, provides for a unicameral parliament and an independent judiciary. To allay the fears of the Francophone minority, the semiproportional, single nontransferable voting system was adopted. Since 1980, the number of parliamentary seats has risen from thirty-nine to fifty-two, with members elected on the basis of universal suffrage for those over eighteen years of age. The president is the head of state, and is elected by members of parliament and presidents of the provincial governments every five years. Vanuatu has six provinces, each with its own provincial government, with further powers are devolved to area councils.

The constitution entitles citizens to fundamental rights, freedoms, and protections. According to the U.S. State Department, there are no recent reports of arbitrary arrest or detention, torture, or politically motivated execution.

See also: Parliamentary Systems.

bibliography

Larmour, Peter, ed. Land Tenure in Vanuatu. Suva, Fiji: University of the South Pacific, Institute of Pacific Studies, 1984.

Morgan, Michael. "Converging on the Arc of Instability? The Fall of Barak Sope and the Spectre of a Coup in Vanuatu." In "Arc of Instability?" Melanesia in the Early 2000s, ed. Ron J. May. Canberra, Australia: Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, University of Canterbury and State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Project, 2003.

Republic of Vanuatu. Constitution of the Republic of Vanuatu. Suva, Fiji: University of the South Pacific School of Law, Pacific Island Legal Information Institute, 2004.

Shineberg, Dorothy. They Came for Sandalwood: A Study of the Sandalwood Trade in the South-West Pacific, 1830–1865. Melbourne, Australia: Melbourne University Press, 1967.

Van Trease, Howard, ed. Melanesian Politics: Stael Blong Vanuatu. Suva, Fiji: University of the South Pacific, Institute of Pacific Studies, 1995.

Van Trease, Howard. The Politics of Land in Vanuatu: From Colonial to Independence. Suva, Fiji: University of the South Pacific, Institute of Pacific Studies, 1987.

"Vanuatu." CIA World Factbook 2004. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2004.

Jeanette Bolenga,

Jon Fraenkel

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