Vanuatu has been colonized over the years by various peoples each speaking their own dialects before the European exploration in the 18th century which has lead to a complex diversity of languages in the isles. The British and French who settled in the New Hebrides in the 19th Century agreed to a combined Anglo-French leadership which administered the islands from 1906 until independence in 1980 when the new name of Vanuatu was adopted. Independence Day is celebrated on July 30th.
Vanuatu is about three quarters of the way from Hawaii to Australia and is made up of over 80 islands of which about 65 are inhabited. Vanuatu is in a Y shaped chain with four main islands, have a tropical climate which is moderated by southeast trade winds from May to October with moderate rainfall from November to April. The “Cyclone Season” is from December to April and there have been volcanic eruptions on Aoba (Ambae) island since 27 November 2005. The highest point is Tabwemasana at 1,877 meters.
The July 2007 estimated population is 211,971 with ~32% of the population is aged 0-14, ~64% is 15-64 and ~4% is 65 and over with a median age of 23.4 and a life expectancy into the early 60’s.
There are over 100 local languages which are spoken by about 72% of the population with approximately 23% of the population speaking Bislama or Bichelama (pidgin), English 1.9%, and French 1.4%.
The capital is Port-Visa on Efate Island and is about 13 hours ahead of the Pacific Standard Time.
Map of Vanuatu