OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Vanuatu
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Republic
AREA: 14,763 Sq Km (5,700 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION: 191,600
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Vanuatu is a chain of 13 large islands
and about 60 small islets in the South West Pacific Ocean
while the largest islands are Espiritu Santo, Malekula and
Efate. Most of the islands are of volcanic origin, rugged
and mountainous, and contain extensive rain forests with
cultivated narrow strips of land along the coasts. Some
other islands are of coral atoll formation or almost atoll
types while the archipelago also has three active volcanoes
on Tanna, Ambrym and Lopevi islands. Major Cities (pop.
est.); Vila 19,400, Santo 6,900 (1989). Land Use; forested
75%, pastures 2%, agricultural-cultivated 12%, other 11%
CLIMATE: Vanuatu has a tropical climate that is characterized
by hot and humid conditions with humidity averaging 83% all year. The hot
wet season occurs between November and April when cyclones are also likely
to occur. Average annual precipitation is around 2,300 mm (90 inches) and
the SE trade winds prevail from May to October, which moderate conditions.
Average temperature ranges in Vila are from 19 to 26 degrees Celsius (66
degrees Fahrenheit) in August to 24 to 31 degrees Celsius (75 to 88 degrees
Fahrenheit) in February.
PEOPLE: Around 95% of the population are Melanesians who are
an amalgamation of Negritoid, Ainoid and Veddoid stocks with the remainder
consisting of ethnic minorities that include Europeans, Polynesians and
Micronesians. About 60% of the population live on the four main islands
of Espiritu Santo, Melekula, Efate and Tanna.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 12.persons per sq km (32
persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 18.4% urban, 81.6% rural (1989).
Sex Distribution; 51.6% male, 48.4% female (1989). Life Expectancy at Birth;
61.1 years male, 59.3 years female (1985). Age Breakdown; 45% under 15,
27% 15 to 29, 15% 30 to 44, 8% 45 to 59, 4% 60 to 74, 1% 75 and over (1989).
Birth Rate; 36.0 per 1,000 (1991). Death Rate; 5.0 per 1,000 (1991). Increase
Rate; 31.0 per 1,000 (1991). Infant Mortality Rate; 36.0 per 1,000 live
RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians which account for around 82% of
the population while the remainder follow local native tribal beliefs,
mostly cargo cults.
LANGUAGES: The official languages are English, French and a Pidgin
language called Bislama which is widely spoken. Over 40 other Melanesian
languages and dialects are also spoken throughout the territory.
EDUCATION: Aged 6 or over and having attained: no formal schooling
22.3%, incomplete primary 52.6%, lower secondary 18.3%, upper secondary
and higher 4.8%, unspecified 2.0% (1989). Literacy; literate population
aged 15 or over 32,120 or 52.9% (1979).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: A movement for independence began
throughout the islands during the 1960's and in 1971 Father Walter Lini
established the National Party of New Hebrides. During the 1970's various
other parties were also formed and in 1978 a Government of National Unity
was formed. In 1979 the Vanua'aku Pati (VP) or formerly the National Party
of New Hebrides won elections and Father Lini became Chief Minister. In
May 1980 an armed rebellion led by Jimmy Stevens attempted to take control
of the government. On July 30, 1980 the New Hebrides became the independent
nation of Vanuatu and in September, with the assistance of Papua New Guinean
forces, the rebellion was crushed. In Nov. 1987 the VP were re-elected.
In Mar. 1989 Fred Timakata was elected President replacing George Sokomanu.
In Aug. 1991 Donald Kalpokas was elected (VP) party leader to replace Father
Lini as Prime Minister. In response Lini formed the National United Party
and declared that he would contend the Nov-Dec. general elections. In Nov.
1991 Maxime Carlot of the Francophone Union of Moderate Parties (UMP) formed
a new coalition government in alliance with Lini. Also in 1991 Jimmy Stevens
was released after serving 11 of his 15 year sentence for leading a secessionist
rebellion in 1980. In 1992 the newly formed government normalized relations
with France following the previous government's indifference over aid,
diplomatic relations and allegations of interference in local politics.
Also in late 1992 allegations of politically motivated dismissals within
the civil service surfaced which resulted in Lini temporarily withdrawing
his support for the coalition government. In early 1993 there was a cabinet
reshuffle and in Aug. 1993 Lini withdrew from the coalition government.
In Nov. 1993 the minister of finance resigned. Also in 1993 an unsuccessful
attempt to expel the acting High Commissioner for Australia was made following
his opposition to the government's newly introduced legislation that gave
the minister of finance the right to revoke business licenses without reason
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Vatu (VT) divided into
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $198,000,000 (1993). Public
Debt; USD $39,400,000 (1993). Imports; VT 9,167,000,000 (1993). Exports;
VT 2,758,000,000 (1993). Tourism Receipts; USD $30,000,000 (1993). Balance
of Trade; VT -6,409,000,000 (1993). Economically Active Population; 66,957
or 47.0% of total population (1989). Unemployed; 0.5% (1989).
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are Belgium,
the Netherlands, New Caledonia, France and the USA.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Bananas, Cassava, Cattle, Cocoa, Coconuts,
Coffee, Fish, Sugar Beets, Taro, Timber, Yams.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Copra Processing, Fishing, Food Processing, Mining,
MAIN EXPORTS: Copra, Fish, Manganese, Sugar Beets.
TRANSPORT: Railroads; nil. Roads; length 1,062 km (660 mi) (1984).
Vehicles; cars 4,000 (1989), trucks and buses 2,500 (1989). Merchant Marine;
vessels 273 (1990), deadweight tonnage 3,315,771 (1990). Air Transport;
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; nil. Radio; receivers 55,000
(1994). Television; receivers 2,000 (1992). Telephones; lines 4,100 (1993).
MILITARY: Around 300 (1995) total active paramilitary personnel.