|Republic of Vanuatu
||English, French and Bislama
|Form of government
|Telephone area code
The Republic of Vanuatu (formerly: New Hebrides) is
located in the South Pacific. The island state comprises
the group of the New Hebrides with a total of 82 islands
that extend over approximately 800 km in a north-south
direction. The largest islands are Espiritu Santo (3 626
km²), Mal®¶koula (2 033 km²), Éfat®¶ (915 km²), Erromango
(897 km²) and Tanna (550 km²). The total land area of
Vanuatu is 12 190 km².
The islands of the republic lie in the border area of
the Indian-Australian and the Pacific plate, a
tectonically unstable region. The volcanic origin of the
islands is evident in the strongly jagged mountain tops
and the graded high plateaus. Nine of the Vanuatu
volcanoes are still active, they are located on the
islands of Ambrym, Tanna and Lop®¶vi, and there are three
submarine volcanoes. The highest peak is the Tabwemasana
on the island of Espiritu Santo with 1,879 m.
The capital Port-Vila is located on the island of
The climate on the islands of Vanuatus is tropical
and humid, the temperatures are almost constant all year
round (average value 25 °„ C). Generally it is a bit
cooler and drier on the southern islands. The average
rainfall is around 3,800 mm in the north and 2,300 mm in
the south. Most of the precipitation falls from November
to April, during which hurricanes can also occur.
Flora and fauna
Evergreen tropical rainforests in all their
biodiversity predominate on the northern islands of the
Republic of Vanuatu (in total around 75% of the land
area is forested). Mangroves and coconut palms grow on
the coasts. Dry forests and savannas dominate in the
southern islands, where rainfall is lower and average
temperatures are somewhat lower.
Only the fruit bats related to the bats are native
mammals, all others (horses, pigs, dogs, cats) were
introduced by humans. In contrast, the bird and reptile
world is rich in species. In addition to numerous
seabirds (frigate birds, shearwater, terns), there are
also various types of parrots. The poisonous Pacific boa
occurs frequently on reptiles. A diverse marine fauna
can be found in the waters off the coasts of the
A total of around 211,000 people live on the islands
of the Republic of Vanuatu. 67 of the total of 82
islands are inhabited, and the four largest islands,
Espiritu Santo, Mal®¶koula, Éfat®¶ and Erromango, are home
to almost a third of the total population. Just under
22% of people live in urban settlements. The largest
city is the capital Port-Vila on Éfat®¶ with about 37 700
residents. Luganville on Espiritu Santo has almost
13,000 citizens. The average population density is 17
people per square kilometer.
According to COUNTRYAAH, 98% of the population are of Melanesian origin,
Polynesians, Micronesians and Europeans form minorities.
About three quarters of the population belong to
Christianity, especially the Presbyterian (31%) and
Anglican churches (13%). In addition, various natural
religions are practiced. The official languages are
English, French and Bislama (Pidgin English with French
elements). A total of around 100 different languages
and dialects are probably spoken.
The tribal association traditionally plays an
important role in the social life of the population.
Medical care for the population is sufficient. The
average life expectancy is around 63 years. The
population growth is 2.5% and has therefore decreased
significantly. The literacy rate is around 53%.
Vanuatu is a parliamentary republic in the British
Commonwealth of Nations under the 1980 Constitution. The
head of state is the president elected for a five-year
term by parliament and the chairman of the provincial
parliaments (Baldwin Lonsdale since September 2014). The
National Council of Chiefs has an advisory role. The
executive is exercised by the Council of Ministers under
the leadership of the Prime Minister as head of the
government (since May 2014 Joe Natuman). He is usually
the leader of the ruling party.
The legislature lies with the parliament, whose 52
deputies are elected by the people for four years.
Vanuatu is divided into six provinces.
Agriculture is responsible for 25% of gross domestic
product (GDP), and two thirds of all workers are
employed in this sector. The main crops are copra,
coconuts, cocoa, coffee, taro, jams, vegetables and
tropical fruits. Cattle farming, fishing and forestry
are also important.
The industry (11% of GDP) is limited to the
production and processing of food. Wood processing and
handicrafts are also important.
The service sector has the largest share of gross
domestic product (GDP) with 64%. With the exemption from
taxes and duties, Vanuatu has developed into one of the
leading financial centers in the Pacific region,
meanwhile numerous banks and credit institutions have
Tourism is an increasingly important sector of the
economy, which has helped the country to achieve great
prosperity in regional comparison. New (luxury) hotels
have emerged, especially on the main island of Efate.
The most important trading partners for exports
(copra, cocoa, coffee, wood, beef) are Thailand, the
Ivory Coast and Japan. Machines and vehicles, fuels and
foodstuffs from China, Singapore, the USA, Japan and
Australia are mainly imported.
The road network covers a total of almost 1 100 km,
of which about a quarter is paved. Port-Vila on the
island of Éfate and Luganville on Espiritu Santo each
have a deep-water port and an international airport, and
another international airport is located on Tanna.
The currency is the Vatu.