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Last updated : Nov 2009
Vanuatu General Info
Vanuatu General Information - TravelPuppy.com

12,190 square kilometres (4,707 square miles).


222,000 people (United Nations estimate in 2005).

Population Density

18.2 people per square kilometre.


Port - Vila (on the Island of Efaté).

Population of Suva

30,139 people (1999 estimate).


Some key geographical facts:

Vanuatu was previously called the New Hebrides, and forms an incomplete double chain of islands stretching north to southeast for about 900 kilometres (560 miles).

They are located approximately 2,250 kilometres (1,407 miles) northeast of Sydney, Australia, and 800 kilometres (500 miles) west of Vanuatu.

Together with the Banks and Torres islands, the chains include about 40 mountainous islands and 40 islets and rocks.

The islands are volcanic in origin and there are 5 active volcanoes.

The Lopevi and Ambrym volcanoes are constantly active and highly dangerous.

Lopevi was extinct for several years but became active 50 years ago.

Further to the south, on the island of Tanna, is Yasur, cited as the most accessible active volcano in the world and a huge tourist attraction.

Geophysical activity is under constant observation by the French scientific organisation, IRD (Institut de recherche pour le développement).

The majority of the islands are densely forested and mountainous with narrow bands of cultivated land along the coasts.


There is a unicameral parliament with 52 members, elected for 4 years by popular vote and responsible for legislation. Executive power is the dependability of the Council of Ministers, appointed by the Prime Minister, who is elected by the Parliament. The President, who is Head of State, is elected by an electoral college which consists of the Parliament of the heads of the regional councils.

Vanuatu is a Republic country, which gained independence from the United Kingdom / France in 1980.

The Head of State has been President Kalkot Mataskelekele since 2004.

The Head of Government has been Prime Minister Ham Lini since 2004.

Recent history

In July 2004, Serge Vohor became Prime Minister (for the 3rd time), only to be ousted on a vote of no confidence in December 2004, following a controversial move on Vohor's part to attempt to switch diplomatic recognition from China to Taiwan without even 1st (reputedly) consulting his Ministers. He was quickly replaced by Ham Lini, who rapidly revoked the agreements with Taiwan that had been signed. Kalkot Mataskelekele's post as President has been, by comparison, extremely stable. However, parties in Vanuatu have been subject to splits and factional disputes; these have dogged Vanuatu’s politics throughout the last decade.


English and French are the official languages in Vauatu. Bislama (Pidgin English), the most largely used day to day language, is a Melanesian mixture of French and English. French and English are hugely spoken and both English and French names exist for all towns. There are over 115 local dialects.


Religions which exist in Vanuatu are mostly Christian, including Anglican, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic and many other denominations.


240 volts AC. Australian 3 pin plugs are in use.
Useful travel links
CIA Factbook - Vanuatu information on the geography, people & maps