LAND AREA 12,000 sq km (half the size of Wales)
CAPITAL Port Vila
LANGUAGES Official languages are English, French and Bislama (pidgin English deriving its name from
Beche-la-Mere, Portugese for sea cucumber). With over 100 indigenous languages, Vanuatu has the highest number of languages
per person in the world.
Mainly Christian. Some Cargo Cults exist (including the Jon Frum Movement which believes an
American who visited the islands during WWII will return to make them rich). A few villages also believe that Prince Philip
is a God (read the full article at http://www.news.vu/en/living/tourism/going-cold-turkey.shtml
GEOGRAPHY A Y-shaped chain of 83 islands, 65 of them inhabited, 2000 km northeast of Australia, 800
km east of Fiji. Vanuatu lies on the edge of the Pacific tectonic plate, which is being forced over the Indo-Australian plate,
leading to volcanoes and earthquakes. There are 9 active volcanoes, cyclones hit the nation regularly and earthquakes
in 1999 caused tsunamis which flattened whole villages. At least there's some nice beaches.
A BRIEF HISTORY
1400 BC - earliest evidence of human habitation by the Lapita people
1606 AD - 'discovered' by Portugese, believing it to be the great southern continent (now known as Australia). A colony
lasted 49 days before the crew mutinied.
1839 - the first missonaries arrived. 2 were eaten.
1854 - first European settler, a cattle rancher who's name has been lost in the mists of time.
1906 - Anglo-French Condominium of the New Hebrides founded
1942 - US military base established in Luganville to defend against the Japanese
1980 - independence from Britain and France, Condominum of the New Hebrides becomes Republic of Vanuatu
GOVERNMENT Democratic, the country is usually run by coalitions headed by either the socio-democractic,
anglophone Vanua'aku Pati or the conservative, francophone Union of Moderate Parties. Politics is very fluid, there have
been 5 Prime Ministers since 1998.