Multiple waves of colonizers, each speaking a distinct language, migrated to the New Hebrides in the millennia preceding European exploration in the 18th century. This settlement pattern accounts for the complex linguistic diversity found on the archipelago to this day. The British and French, who settled the New Hebrides in the 19th century, agreed in 1906 to an Anglo-French Condominium, which administered the islands until independence in 1980, when the new name of Vanuatu was adopted.



Oceania, group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to Australia

Geographic coordinates

16 00 S, 167 00 E

Map references



total: 12,189 sq km
land: 12,189 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes more than 80 islands, about 65 of which are inhabited

Area - comparative

slightly larger than Connecticut

Land boundaries

0 km


2,528 km

Maritime claims

measured from claimed archipelagic baselines
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin


tropical; moderated by southeast trade winds from May to October; moderate rainfall from November to April; may be affected by cyclones from December to April


mostly mountainous islands of volcanic origin; narrow coastal plains


mean elevation: NA
elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Tabwemasana 1,877 m

Natural resources

manganese, hardwood forests, fish

Land use

agricultural land: 15.3%
arable land 1.6%; permanent crops 10.3%; permanent pasture 3.4%
forest: 36.1%
other: 48.6% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

0 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards

tropical cyclones or typhoons (January to April); volcanic eruption on Aoba (Ambae) island began on 27 November 2005, volcanism also causes minor earthquakes; tsunamis
volcanism: significant volcanic activity with multiple eruptions in recent years; Yasur (elev. 361 m), one of the world's most active volcanoes, has experienced continuous activity in recent centuries; other historically active volcanoes include, Aoba, Ambrym, Epi, Gaua, Kuwae, Lopevi, Suretamatai, and Traitor's Head

Environment - current issues

most of the population does not have access to a reliable supply of potable water; deforestation

Environment - international agreements

party to: Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 94
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note

a Y-shaped chain of four main islands and 80 smaller islands; several of the islands have active volcanoes and there are several underwater volcanoes as well

People and Society


277,554 (July 2016 est.)


noun: Ni-Vanuatu (singular and plural)
adjective: Ni-Vanuatu

Ethnic groups

Ni-Vanuatu 97.6%, part Ni-Vanuatu 1.1%, other 1.3% (2009 est.)


local languages (more than 100) 63.2%, Bislama (official; creole) 33.7%, English (official) 2%, French (official) 0.6%, other 0.5% (2009 est.)


Protestant 70% (includes Presbyterian 27.9%, Anglican 15.1%, Seventh Day Adventist 12.5%, Assemblies of God 4.7%, Church of Christ 4.5%, Neil Thomas Ministry 3.1%, and Apostolic 2.2%), Roman Catholic 12.4%, customary beliefs 3.7% (including Jon Frum cargo cult), other 12.6%, none 1.1%, unspecified 0.2% (2009 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 36.11% (male 51,160/female 49,073)
15-24 years: 20% (male 27,559/female 27,939)
25-54 years: 34.74% (male 47,189/female 49,244)
55-64 years: 5.27% (male 7,327/female 7,297)
65 years and over: 3.88% (male 5,470/female 5,296) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 68.7%
youth dependency ratio: 61.6%
elderly dependency ratio: 7.1%
potential support ratio: 14.1% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 21.7 years
male: 21.3 years
female: 22.1 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

1.9% (2016 est.)

Birth rate

24.5 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

4.1 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

-1.4 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)


urban population: 26.1% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 3.42% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

PORT-VILA (capital) 53,000 (2014)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.04 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

78 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 15.1 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 16.1 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 14 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 73.4 years
male: 71.8 years
female: 75.1 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

3.16 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

38.4% (2007)

Health expenditures

5% of GDP (2014)

Physicians density

0.12 physicians/1,000 population (2008)

Hospital bed density

1.8 beds/1,000 population (2008)

Drinking water source

urban: 98.9% of population
rural: 92.9% of population
total: 94.5% of population
urban: 1.1% of population
rural: 7.1% of population
total: 5.5% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 65.1% of population
rural: 55.4% of population
total: 57.9% of population
urban: 34.9% of population
rural: 44.6% of population
total: 42.1% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Obesity - adult prevalence rate

32.9% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

10.7% (2013)

Education expenditures

4.9% of GDP (2014)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 85.2%
male: 86.6%
female: 83.8% (2015 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 10.6%
male: 10.2%
female: 11.2% (2009 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Vanuatu
conventional short form: Vanuatu
local long form: Ripablik blong Vanuatu
local short form: Vanuatu
former: New Hebrides
etymology: derived from the words "vanua" (home or land) and "tu" (stand) that occur in several of the Austonesian languages spoken on the islands and which provide the meaning of "independence" or the sense of "our land"

Government type

parliamentary republic


name: Port-Vila (on Efate)
geographic coordinates: 17 44 S, 168 19 E
time difference: UTC+11 (16 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

6 provinces; Malampa, Penama, Sanma, Shefa, Tafea, Torba


30 July 1980 (from France and the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 30 July (1980)


effective 30 July 1980; amended several times, last in 2013 (2016)

Legal system

mixed legal system of English common law, French law, and customary law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: both parents must be citizens of Vanuatu; in the case of only one parent, it must be the father who is a citizen
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: 10 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Baldwin LONSDALE (since 22 September 2014)
head of government: Prime Minister Charlot SALWAI (since 11 February 2016)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister, responsible to parliament
elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by an electoral college consisting of Parliament and presidents of the 6 provinces; Vanuatu president serves a 5-year term; election last held on 17 September 2014 (next to be held in 2019); following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition usually elected prime minister by parliament from among its members; election for prime minister last held on 11 February 2016 (next to be held following general elections in 2020)
election results: Baldwin LONSDALE (independent) elected president; Parliament vote - 46 out of 52 on the eighth ballot; Charlot SALWAI elected prime minister on 11 February 2016 with 46 votes

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Parliament (52 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 4-year terms)
note: the National Council of Chiefs advises on matters of culture and language
elections: last held on 22 January 2016 (next to be held in 2020)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - VP 8, PPP 6, UMP 5, GJP 4, NUP 4, IG 3, GC 3, NAG 3, RMC 3, MPP 2, NIPDP 2, PSP 1, VLDP 1, VNP 1, VPDP 1, VRP 1, and independent 4; note - political party associations are fluid

Judicial branch

.highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice and 6 justices - 3 local and 4 expatriate); note - appeals beyond the Supreme Court are considered by the Court of Appeal, constituted by 2 or more judges of the Supreme Court sitting together
judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court chief justice appointed by the president after consultation with the prime minister and the leader of the opposition; other judges are appointed by the president on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission, a 4-member advisory body; judges appointed until age of retirement
subordinate courts: Magistrates Courts; Island Courts

Political parties and leaders

Greens Confederation or GC [Moana CARCASSES Kalosil]
Iauko Group or IG [Tony NARI]
Land and Justice Party (Graon mo Jastis Pati) or GJP [Ralph REGENVANU]
Melanesian Progressive Party or MPP [Barak SOPE]
Nagriamel movement or NAG [Frankie STEVENS]
Natatok Indigenous People's Democratic Party or (NATATOK) or NIPDP [Alfred Roland CARLOT]
National United Party or NUP [Ham LINI]
People's Progressive Party or PPP [Sato KILMAN]
People's Service Party or PSP [Don KEN]
Reunification of Movement for Change or RMC [Charlot SALWAI]
Union of Moderate Parties or UMP [Serge VOHOR]
Vanua'aku Pati (Our Land Party) or VP [Edward NATAPEI]
Vanuatu Democratic Party [Maxime Carlot KORMAN]
Vanuatu Liberal Democratic Party or VLDP [Tapangararua WILLIE]
Vanuatu National Party or VNP [Issac HAMARILIU]
Vanuatu National Development Party or VNDP [Robert Bohn SIKOL]
Vanuatu Republican Party or VRP [Marcellino PIPITE]

Political pressure groups and leaders


International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

Vanuatu does not have an embassy in the US; it does, however, have a Permanent Mission to the UN

Diplomatic representation from the US

the US does not have an embassy in Vanuatu; the US Ambassador to Papua New Guinea is accredited to Vanuatu

Flag description

two equal horizontal bands of red (top) and green with a black isosceles triangle (based on the hoist side) all separated by a black-edged yellow stripe in the shape of a horizontal Y (the two points of the Y face the hoist side and enclose the triangle); centered in the triangle is a boar's tusk encircling two crossed namele fern fronds, all in yellow; red represents the blood of boars and men, as well as unity, green the richness of the islands, and black the ni-Vanuatu people; the yellow Y-shape - which reflects the pattern of the islands in the Pacific Ocean - symbolizes the light of the Gospel spreading through the islands; the boar's tusk is a symbol of prosperity frequently worn as a pendant on the islands; the fern fronds represent peace
note: one of several flags where a prominent component of the design reflects the shape of the country; other such flags are those of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, and Eritrea

National symbol(s)

boar's tusk with crossed fern fronds; national colors: red, black, green, yellow

National anthem

name: "Yumi, Yumi, Yumi" (We, We, We)
lyrics/music: Francois Vincent AYSSAV
note: adopted 1980; the anthem is written in Bislama, a Creole language that mixes Pidgin English and French


Economy - overview

This South Pacific island economy is based primarily on small-scale agriculture, which provides a living for about two-thirds of the population. Fishing, offshore financial services, and tourism, with nearly 197,000 visitors in 2008, are other mainstays o

Economic development is hindered by dependence on relatively few commodity exports, vulnerability to natural disasters, and long distances from main markets and between constituent islands. In response to foreign concerns, the government has promised to t

Since 2002, the government has stepped up efforts to boost tourism through improved air connections, resort development, and cruise ship facilities. Agriculture, especially livestock farming, is a second target for growth.

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$723 million (2016 est.)
$695.2 million (2015 est.)
$700.8 million (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$773 million (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

4% (2016 est.)
-0.8% (2015 est.)
2.3% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$2,600 (2016 est.)
$2,600 (2015 est.)
$2,700 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 67%
government consumption: 17.6%
investment in fixed capital: 28.6%
investment in inventories: 0%
exports of goods and services: 37.3%
imports of goods and services: -50.5% (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 26%
industry: 9%
services: 65% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products

copra, coconuts, cocoa, coffee, taro, yams, fruits, vegetables; beef; fish


food and fish freezing, wood processing, meat canning

Industrial production growth rate

4% (2016 est.)

Labor force

115,900 (2007 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 65%
industry: 5%
services: 30% (2000 est.)

Unemployment rate

1.7% (1999 est.)

Population below poverty line


Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $175.9 million
expenditures: $201.3 million (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

22.8% of GDP (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-3.3% of GDP (2016 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

2.7% (2016 est.)
2.4% (2015 est.)

Central bank discount rate

20% (31 December 2010)
6% (31 December 2009)

Commercial bank prime lending rate

3.3% (31 December 2016 est.)
3.63% (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$375.9 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$320.9 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of broad money

$544.9 million (31 December 2014 est.)
$552.6 million (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$506.7 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$477 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares


Current account balance

-$129 million (2016 est.)
-$82 million (2015 est.)


$58.4 million (2016 est.)
$45.6 million (2015 est.)

Exports - commodities

copra, beef, cocoa, timber, kava, coffee

Exports - partners

Japan 35.1%, Turkey 10.5%, Thailand 8.7%, China 8.2%, Venezuela 5.9%, UK 5.6% (2015)


$366.8 million (2016 est.)
$323.2 million (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities

machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, fuels

Imports - partners

China 16.7%, Australia 14.6%, Japan 13.9%, Singapore 10%, Fiji 9.3%, NZ 8.3%, New Caledonia 5.2% (2015)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$251.9 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$269.2 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Debt - external

$208.1 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$190.9 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home

$618.1 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$563.1 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad

$22.7 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$22.7 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Exchange rates

vatu (VUV) per US dollar -
110.3 (2016 est.)
108.99 (2015 est.)
108.99 (2014 est.)
97.07 (2013 est.)
92.64 (2012 est.)


Electricity - access

population without electricity: 202,614
electrification - total population: 27%
electrification - urban areas: 55%
electrification - rural areas: 18% (2012)

Electricity - production

60 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

55.8 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

30,000 kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

89.3% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

10.7% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

1,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

1,008 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

200,000 Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 4,797
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 2 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 175,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 64 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

international: country code - 678; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean)

Broadcast media

1 state-owned TV station; multi-channel pay TV is available; state-owned Radio Vanuatu operates 2 radio stations; 2 privately owned radio broadcasters; programming from multiple international broadcasters is available (2008)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 61,000
percent of population: 22.4% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 1
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 6
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 287,526
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 1,510,732 mt-km (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

YJ (2016)


31 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 28
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 21 (2013)


total: 1,070 km
paved: 256 km
unpaved: 814 km (2000)

Merchant marine

total: 77
by type: bulk carrier 38, cargo 8, chemical tanker 2, container 1, liquefied gas 2, passenger 1, refrigerated cargo 24, vehicle carrier 1
foreign-owned: 72 (Belgium 1, Canada 5, China 1, Greece 3, Japan 39, Norway 1, Poland 9, Russia 7, Singapore 2, Taiwan 1, UAE 1, US 2) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Forari Bay, Luganville (Santo, Espiritu Santo), Port-Vila


Military branches

no regular military forces; Vanuatu Police Force (VPF), Vanuatu Mobile Force (VMF; includes Police Maritime Wing (PMW)) (2013)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Matthew and Hunter Islands east of New Caledonia claimed by Vanuatu and France