Brief Overview and Map

Formerly called the New Hebrides, Vanuatu is a Y-shaped chain of 322 tropical islands of volcanic origin situated in Melanesia to the east of Australia. Before becoming a republic in 1980, Vanuatu was a condominium under British and French rule and these historic ties are particularly evident in the capital Port Vila. The population of 200,000 is one of the most culturally diverse in the world today, with over one hundred distinct languages. The majority of people live in remote rural areas following a mainly subsistent lifestyle by clearing small gardens in the rainforest. Their very limited income is usually derived from copra, cattle, fishing, logging or tourism and used to pay for things like school fees, rice, sugar and church contributions. Vanuatu is officially a Christian nation, but there are very strong links to past traditions and beliefs throughout the island group. The rural population is one of the fastest growing in the world and pressures for development are strong in many areas. As a result, environmental and cultural degradation pose a serious challenge to many communities.


Collecting garden produce,
Pentecost Island