VANUATU > FACTS ABOUT THE COUNTRY
The Melanesian settlers arrived in Vanuatu about 3000 years ago. A number of
European navigators visited the islands from 1606 but it was Captain Cook who
mapped them and named them the New Hebrides. After that, both the British and
the French began showing an interest in the islands, purchasing land and playing
a key role in the country's developing economy. In 1906 the New Hebrides was
formally declared a condominium under the joint rule of Britain and France.
From the 1960s, with the well economic growth, the Melanesians began claiming
back their land from the foreign owners and a move towards independence gained
in strength. In 1979, a Melanesian party won 26 seats in parliament in the third
general election. Walter Lini became the new Prime Minister, while the first
President of the Republic was elected in 1980. The country was then renamed
Vanuatu, meaning 'our land'.
Vanuatu comprises 83 fabulous islands scattered across 450,000 square kilometers
of South of Pacific Ocean, in the heart of Melanesia. Its nearest neighbours
are Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands to the North, New Caledonia in the
South and Fiji to the East
Between April/ May to October the temperatures range from 18 to 28 degrees Celsius.
This is the best time for visit, and light weight casual clothing plus a sweater
is adequate. From November to March is summer, and the temperature can be hot,
wet and humid averagely 28 degrees Celsius. Winter is from April to October
with the temperature averaging 23 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile from January to
March is hot, the temperature ranging from 26 to 34 degrees Celsius, and the
weather often wet and prone to cyclones. Sea temperature fluctuates from 22
to 28 degrees making swimming pleasurable all year round
The Melanesians are the pre-dominant people in Vanuatu. Their ancestors were
believed to have migrated from Papua New Guinea around 3000 years ago. Recently
it is counted that the total population of the islands is approximately 175,000
There are more than 120 distinctive mother tongues and many more dialects in
common use. Bislama, the lingua franca and national language, is Pidgin English.
The official languages are English, French and Bislama.
The Melanesian with a vast range of tribes dominates Vanuatu's culture in diversity.
There are more than 105 definitely diverse cultures and languages still flourish
in Vanuatu to sustain the distinctly different custom not only from island to
island, but also even from district to district.
Christian is the pre-dominant religion in Vanuatu. It is estimated around 90%
people of the country follow this religious teaching. Visitors are welcome to
attend Sunday services. Several shops and markets usually close on Sundays,
but some Chinese-owned shops and supermarkets may be open. The Presbyterian
Church is the major denomination
ART & CRAFT
Vanuatu is rich of art variety. From island to island it differs, like the customs
and traditions. The traditional art is carving, while several fine painters,
weavers and potters are well-contributing to Vanuatu's art development Visitors
wish to find Vanuatu's distinctive handicrafts can visit Handicraft Blong Vanuatu,
situated in the center of Port Vila. It provides an extensive selection of genuine
handicrafts from many islands of Vanuatu. Other places to find handicrafts are
Art Blong Yumi and Goodies.
Visitors to Vanuatu can experience the local specialties, including coconut
crab, wild pigeon and flying fox cooked in a ground oven. Traditional feast
can be also experienced within the Melanesian cultural shows. A wide range of
food choices is available, including Melanesian, French, Thai, Vietnamese, English,
Polynesian, Indian, and Japanese.
The beautifully diverse land is worth a visit for tourists to Vanuatu. The
dramatic mountainous volcanic islands, craggy landscapes, splendid flora and
fauna and more natural enchantments can be still viewed on the islands of Tanna,
Ambrym ad Lopevi. Visitors will need plenty of time to discover all the gorgeousness.
A rich marine environment cuddle waterfalls, lagoons, tropical rainforests,
unspoiled white sand beaches and hot springs, all amidst the coral reefs set
in crystal clear blue waters.
The GDP purchasing power parity of the country is averagely $ 245 million, in
which the small-scale agriculture in Vanuatu mainly supports a living for 65%
of the population. This is what the country's economy based on. Other strongholds
of the economy are fishing, offshore financial services, and tourism. The country
has no known petroleum deposits, while the mineral deposits are trifling. A
small light industry sector supplies the local market, while tax revenues come
primarily from import duties. The country's economic development is obstructed
by some major factors, like the dependence on relatively few export commodities,
vulnerability to natural disasters, and long distances from major markets and
between constituent islands.
Generally, offices are open from 7:30am to 11:30am and from 1:30pm to 5:00pm,
Monday to Friday. Shops from 8:00am to 11:30am and from 1:30pm to 5:30pm, Monday
to Friday and 8:00 to Noon on Saturday. Banks from 8:00 to 3:00pm Monday to
Friday and the Post Office from 7:30am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday.
Vanuatu became one of the most attractive and competitive financial centers
in the world, since the establishment of the International Companies Acts. Several
major trading banks exist in the country include ANZ, Bank of Hawaii Vanuatu,
Westpac and the National Bank of Vanuatu. Banking hours are 8:30am to 3:00pm
Monday to Friday, while the National Bank of Vanuatu's office set in the airport
opens for all flight arrivals. There are some ANZ ATM machines in Port Vila
and Luganville, Santo only, while you can also get cash advances on Visa and
Mastercards during bank hours. Money changers in town open from 8 am until 5.30-6.00
pm Monday to Friday and 8.30 am to 4.00 pm weekends and public holidays. For
Australian and New Zealander's please note only ANZ Bankcard is accepted, and
Visa, Mastercard and to a lesser extent Amex and Diner's.
No vaccinations required, please take preventive medication upon the endemic
Malaria, especially in outer islands. Bring a jug of suncream, as such medication
increases your risk of sunburn. Take a precaution upon Hepatitis B and tuberculosis,
and get medical treatment for intensive cure. The hospitals in Vanuatu only
with limited resources, one hospital in Vila, and one in Luganville. There are
small clinics and dispensaries. It is very recommended for visitors to get travel
insurance, since serious injuries and medical condition will require medical
evacuation to more modern facilities in Australia, Ne Zealand or New Caledonia.
The urban water supply is safe to drink and bottled water is also readily available.
In the outer islands, water comes from streams whose catchments are untouched
jungle, or as rainwater from roofs. Some people may react to water in different
places, not because it is not clean, but simply because it's different. Should
you are such people, please supply bottled water that can be readily purchased
from Vila and Luganville. Supplies in the outer islands are very limited.
Vanuatu is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations that governs its own Republic.
The Westminster System is basing the government, in which 52 members elected
for a 4-year term. The cabinet comprises the prime ministers members from the
council of ministers. The President is the Head of State, and a national council
of chiefs (Malfatu Mauri) advises parliament on traditional matters.