|Vanuatu is a part of
an Island group which has been settled since BC
500. Up to and beyond the 13th century AD, it was at the centre
of the empire of Tonga. During the 19th century, the islands making
up Vanuatu (then called the New Hebrides) were settled by British
and French missionaries, traders and planters. The United Kingdom
and France finally agreed on a condominium over the 2 islands.
After World War II, an intricate power struggle began between the
indigenous islanders and the dual colonial interests over the future
political and economic course of the islands. The constitutional
position was settled in 1977, at a conference between French, British
and New Hebridean representatives in Paris, and the islands became
fully independent in 1980.
A drive since then to persuade overseas tourists to travel to Vanuatu
has led to ever increasing numbers of visitors. It is easy to see
why they come. The islands are an adventure devotee’s
paradise. The geologically active archipelago is a natural
playground of colourful reefs, bubbling volcanoes and thriving jungle.
Visitors can drive up to the crater of Yasur, quoted as the most
reachable active volcano in the world, sea kayak round the islands'
shorelines, explore underwater World War II relics, or hike and
bike through coconut plantations and tropical rainforest.
Those less inclined to exert themselves can relax
on the many stunning beaches, sample the multicultural cuisine in
the capital, Port - Vila, or charter a boat from 1 island to the
Tourism is centred on the islands
of Tanna, Efaté, and Espiritu Santo. International visitors
arrive in Port - Vila, on Efaté, and from here can travel
by boat or plane to explore the rest of Vanuatu.