Nation at a Glance - Vanuatu

History

Multiple waves of colonizers, each speaking a distinct language, migrated to the New Hebrides in the millennia preceding European exploration in the 18th century. This settlement pattern accounts for the complex linguistic diversity found on the archipelago to this day. The British and French, who settled the New Hebrides in the 19th century, agreed in 1906 to an Anglo-French Condominium, which administered the islands until independence in 1980, when the new name of Vanuatu was adopted.

Location: Oceania, group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to Australia

Border Countries: 0 km

Total Area: 12,189 sq km Land: 12,189 sq km Water: 0 sq km

Climate: Tropical; moderated by southeast trade winds from May to October; moderate rainfall from November to April; may be affected by cyclones from December to April

Terrain: Mostly mountainous islands of volcanic origin; narrow coastal plains

Natural resources: Manganese, hardwood forests, fish

Land use: Agricultural land: 15.3% arable land 1.6%; permanent crops 10.3%; permanent pasture 3.4% Forest: 36.1% Other: 48.6% (2011 est.)

Ethnic groups: Ni-Vanuatu 97.6%, part Ni-Vanuatu 1.1%, Other 1.3% (2009 est.)

Languages: Local languages (more than 100) 63.2%, Bislama (official; creole) 33.7%, English (official) 2%, French (official) 0.6%, Other 0.5% (2009 est.)

Religions: Protestant 70% (includes Presbyterian 27.9%, Anglican 15.1%, Seventh Day Adventist 12.5%, Assemblies of God 4.7%, Church of Christ 4.5%, Neil Thomas Ministry 3.1%, and Apostolic 2.2%), Roman Catholic 12.4%, Customary beliefs 3.7% (including Jon Frum cargo cult), Other 12.6%, None 1.1%, Unspecified 0.2% (2009 est.)

Population: 277,554 (July 2016 est.)

Literacy: 85.2%; Male: 86.6%; Female: 83.8% (2015 est.)

Administrative divisions: 6 provinces; Malampa, Penama, Sanma, Shefa, Tafea, Torba

Economy: This South Pacific island economy is based primarily on small-scale agriculture, which provides a living for about two-thirds of the population. Fishing, offshore financial services, and tourism, with nearly 197,000 visitors in 2008, are other mainstays of the economy. Australia and New Zealand are the main source of tourists and foreign aid. A small light industry sector caters to the local market. Tax revenues come mainly from import duties. Mineral deposits are negligible; the country has no known petroleum deposits. Economic development is hindered by dependence on relatively few commodity exports, vulnerability to natural disasters, and long distances from main markets and between constituent islands. In response to foreign concerns, the government has promised to tighten regulation of its offshore financial center.Since 2002, the government has stepped up efforts to boost tourism through improved air connections, resort development, and cruise ship facilities. Agriculture, especially livestock farming, is a second target for growth.

Agriculture - products: Copra, coconuts, cocoa, coffee, taro, yams, fruits, vegetables; beef; fish

Industries: Food and fish freezing, wood processing, meat canning

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