Vanuatu or Republic of Vanuatu is a pacific island state in Melanesia, located on the New Hebrides archipelago in the southwest Pacific. The country borders with the Solomon Islands to the north (170 km), Australia to the west (1750 km), New Caledonia to the south-west (230 km), and Fiji to the east (800 km). The total land area is 12,336 km². The capital is Port Vila.
The archipelago is a chain of 83 Y-shaped islands, stretching 1,176 km from north to south. The most important are the islands of Efate, Espiritu Santo, Tanna and Malakula.
Espiritu Santo is the largest island of Vanuatu and it is also home to the highest peak of the country, Mount Tabvemasana (1879 m). On the islands of Ambrym, Ambae and Tanna there are mountains that are higher than 1,000 m above sea level. Most of the islands have a mountainous relief, which is caused by the movement of oceanic plates. Some islands with sheer cliffs are surrounded by fringing coral reefs.
To the west of the archipelago there is an oceanic depression up to 8,000 meters deep.
Climate in Vanuatu
Most of the islands of Vanuatu have a humid tropical climate, close to the equatorial climate.
However, on the mountainous islands there are clear climatic differences depending on the altitude and the influence of trade winds. At low altitudes, the south-eastern leeward sides of the islands have a typical equatorial climate (rainfall varies from 2500 to 4000 mm); the north-western leeward sides have a tropical climate with two seasons a year (rainfall is usually less than 2000 mm). At an altitude of about 500 to 600 m in the south and 200 to 300 m in the north of the archipelago in the highlands, the climate is humid with frequent fogs and rainfall exceeding 5,000 mm per year.
From May to October (local winter) southeasterly breezes blow on the archipelago. This results in sunny days and cool nights. The driest months are August and September. From November to April, the air is very humid due to very frequent and heavy downpours. High temperatures and frequent cyclones occur during this time of year. The heavy rainy season on all the islands lasts from January to March. The rainiest month of the year is February (about 20 rainy days).
The average annual temperature during the rainy season on the northern islands is +30 ° C, during the dry season – about +20 ° C. On the southern islands, the average annual temperature ranges from +29 ° C to +17 ° C. In the capital city of Port Vila, humidity during the rainy season can reach 90%. During the dry season – about 70 – 74%.
Cyclones in the islands most often occur in December and March and are formed over the Coral Sea, lying to the north-west of Vanuatu.
Population of Vanuatu
The population of Vanuatu is 292,680 (2018). Life expectancy for men is 65.6 years and 69 years for women.
Ethnically, 94% of the population is indigenous Vanuatu – Ni-Vanuatu. The remaining 4% are Europeans, and 2% are other peoples of Oceania and Asia.
Vanuatu also has a small Chinese community, mostly comprised of traders, as well as a Vietnamese community consisting of descendants of laborers who formerly worked on local plantations.
Most believers are Christians (Presbyterians 31.4%, Anglicans 13.4%, Catholics 13.1%, etc.). About 5.6% of the population (including the adherents of the Kargo cult) practice traditional local beliefs.
Vanuatu has three official languages – English, French, and Bislama (a Creole language, mostly based on English). The number of native speakers of Bislama is 6,200, mostly in the capital Port Vila and Luganville, and it is understood by most of the country’s inhabitants.
The Vanuatu Vatu (Vt or VUV) is the national currency of the Republic of Vanuatu. The coins in circulation are in denominations of: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 Vatu, banknotes in denominations of: 100 (out of print since 1999; replaced by a coin of the same denomination), 200, 500, 1000 and 5000 vatu.
Australian dollars are widely used and accepted in most stores and restaurants.
Banks are generally open Monday to Friday 8.00am to 3.00pm. Exchange offices are open Monday to Friday from 08.00 to 17.30-18.00, Saturday to Sunday from 08.30 to 16.00.
The easiest way to change currency is at exchange offices, which can be found at Port Vila International Airport, as well as at the offices of banks.
Most hotels, restaurants, stores, and rental agencies accept credit cards from the world’s leading payment systems. ATMs can be found in Luganville and Port Vila, as well as in some resort areas on the islands of Tanna and Espiritu Santo. On the other islands it is almost impossible to use credit cards. Traveler’s checks can be cashed at any branch of the country’s leading banks.
Phone code: 678
How to call
To call from Russia to Vanuatu dial: 8 – dial tone – 10 – 678 – city code – telephone number.
To call from Vanuatu to Russia dial: 00 – 7 – city code – telephone number.
Shopping in Vanuatu
Stores are open on weekdays from 7.30 to 11.30 and from 13.30 to 16.30, on Saturdays from 7.30 to 12.00.
Popular souvenirs from Vanuatu: crafts made from coral or turtle bone, as well as woven bags and mats (hand made).
In order to export souvenirs made of coral or turtle bone from Vanuatu, you must obtain a permit from the Department of Fisheries, or the items may be confiscated.
Sea and Beaches
Each island of the archipelago has a set of first-class beaches. Vanuatu beaches are for nudists and nudism is not welcome here. The fact is that according to local customs, the body is the receptacle of the spirit, so you can display it only to “friends”, but outsiders – no way, because it is the cause of all evil eye and spells.
How to get to Vanuatu
There are no direct flights from Russia to Vanuatu.
To get to Vanuatu you can take 2 to 3 connections via Australia or New Zealand; at best you can travel within 24 hours, but on average it’s better to count on 1.5-2 days. Flying to Vanuatu from Russia is not cheap.
It is optimal to have a visa to Australia or New Zealand, as waiting at the airport for flights to Vanuatu can be very long.
The only international airport in Vanuatu is Bauerfeld (Port Vila) with Air Vanuatu which flies from Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane) and from New Zealand (Auckland).
From Australia (Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Darwin) to Vanuatu also flies Australia’s largest airline, Qantas .
Staying in Vanuatu is virtually safe for travelers. Property crimes are occasionally recorded but are solved very quickly – on small islands everything is in plain sight and hiding from the law is difficult. The police are tough on any type of crime committed against foreign nationals. However, you should always take security measures against pickpockets, especially in crowded areas, keep an eye on your belongings and take the usual precautions.
Interesting things about Vanuatu
During the Happy Planet Index in 2006, the British research institute New Economics Foundation named the Republic of Vanuatu as the happiest country (Russia, for example, was ranked 172 out of 178 in the list.
Volcano Yasour on the island of Tanna is one of the most accessible active volcanoes in the world.
In 1942, the SS President Coolidge, built in 1931 and at that time the largest merchant ship built in the United States, sank off the coast of Espiritu Santo Island.
It is difficult to overestimate the role of women in local life – they work the land, do the housework, and raise children. The attitude of men to them is peculiar – on the one hand, “the weaker sex” is cherished and pampered in every possible way, on the other hand, the main value women have in money and goods. It is customary to pay a bride price, and it is not insignificant – it is usually equal to the price of a Japanese car. And in the cities this peculiar “kalym” is taken in cash, in the rural areas the payment is a special way grown boar tusks (a kind of local currency) or direct delivery of goods. At the same time the equality of the sexes is officially declared in the country and one cannot see that this situation displeases anyone.
Diving in Vanuatu
Vanuatu – a true “mecca” for divers, which has an unprecedented set of conditions and sites for diving. The transparency of the sea water here varies from 30 to 50 meters depending on the season, and the peculiarities of the formation of islands determine the unique forms of the underwater landscape. Around all the islands stretches a succession of coral reefs, around which live, according to rough estimates, about 600 species of fish and up to 1270 species of marine invertebrates. And the fighting and turbulent history of the Great Geographical Discoveries has left many shipwrecks in Vanuatu’s waters.
In addition to the already mentioned underwater attractions, it is worth noting such well-known sites as Katidral Cave with a magnificent light wells in the roof, populated by countless small stingrays reef and caves Blacksends, Mele Reef and a huge number of sunken ships near almost every island. And the seafloor around the islands north of Efate is known for deep canyons and numerous volcanic formations.
Windsurfing, waterskiing, snorkelling and swimming (although sharks are not to be overlooked) abound around Banks and Torres Islands during trade winds.
Almost all islands have excellent conditions for sea fishing.
First-class conditions for trekking through the rain forest and mountains can be found on Espiritu Santo, Gaua, Ambrym and Eromanga. Port Vila has four excellent golf courses and several casinos.
Across the planet step by step
Vanuatu is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Australia, in the archipelago of the New Hebrides. For 100 years, until 1980, the country was under mixed British and French rule. Today Vanuatu is one of the best resort areas of Melanesia, widely known for its extraordinary nature, original population, luxurious underwater world, sea fishing, diving and spa procedures. With such natural riches at its disposal, Vanuatu remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Because of its geographical remoteness, most people living on Earth do not know about the existence of such a state. The specificity of the Vanuatu island landscape is the numerous volcanoes, nine of which are active.
Vanuatu – the “untouched paradise” of Oceania
Capital of Vanuatu
The capital of Vanuatu is Port Vila, located on the southern tip of Efate Island in the New Hebrides archipelago, which is the largest settlement in the country. After the introduction of low taxes in 1970, the city started active construction: old ramshackle colonial buildings were demolished and replaced by modern ones. In 1972, the main pier was built, which received cruise ships, after which Port Vila has become a popular tourist destination. Today the capital is a bustling commercial port with hospitals, hotels, casinos, markets, a sports stadium, a house of culture and universities.
The flag of Vanuatu is a rectangular cloth, with a side ratio of 3:5, divided into three parts by a figure of yellow, repeating the outline of the letter Y, two equal horizontal strips and an isosceles triangle. The upper stripe is red and the lower one is green. The black triangle has a yellow boar’s fang, with crossed fern branches inside.
- green is the color of wealth and prosperity of the islands
- Red is the color of blood
- Black is the color of local people
- Yellow is the color of Christian faith and the eternal sun
- boar’s fang – symbol of prosperity
- fern – symbol of peace and quiet
- The Y-shaped figure symbolizes the light of the gospel, which illuminates the islands of the Pacific
All the flags of the countries of the world, see here.
The coat of arms of Vanuatu is a composition depicting a Melanesian warrior (chief) with a spear in his hands, standing in front of a volcano. At the bottom of the coat of arms is the national motto: “Long God yumi stanap”, which means “For God we stand”. Behind a warrior there are two green cycad leaves and a silver boar’s fang.
Symbolism of the Vanuatu coat of arms :
- cycad leaves – symbolize peace
- A boar’s tusk symbolizes prosperity (in Vanuatu a boar is a symbol of wealth)
All coats of arms of countries around the world, see here.
“Yumi Yumi Yumi” (“We, We, We”) is the national anthem of the Republic of Vanuatu, adopted in 1980. The words and music were written by François Vincent Essave. This anthem played an important role in raising the prestige of the Bislama. Many of the words and expressions in the anthem are derived from the English (yumi < you and me, talem se < tell’em say). Читать подробнее…
The national currency of Vanuatu is Vatu (abbreviation Vt ; code VUV ), equal to 100 centimes. Coins in denominations of Vatu 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 and banknotes in denominations of Vatu 200, 500, 1000 and 5000 are in circulation. Australian dollars are also widely used and accepted in most stores, bars, and restaurants.
Vanuatu Coins Appearance
Appearance of Vanuatu banknotes
Vanuatu on the World Map
Vanuatu is a pacific island nation in Melanesia, bordered to the north by the territorial waters of the Solomon Islands, to the west by the economic zone of Australia, to the southwest by the territorial waters of New Caledonia, and to the east by the territorial waters of Fiji. On the east, the country is bounded by the Pacific Ocean, and on the west by the Coral Sea.
The land area is 12 200 sq. km. All 83 islands are mountainous and of volcanic origin. The largest island is Espiritu Santo, which has the highest peak of the country – Mount Tabvemasana (1879 m).
What is worth seeing in Vanuatu?
Here’s a small list of places of interest, which you should pay attention to when planning excursions in Vanuatu :
- National Museum of Vanuatu
- Big Bay National Park
- Vanuatu Lava Island
- Malakula Island
- Mota Lava Island
- Espiritu Santo Island
- Efate Island
- Ra Coral Island
- Tabvemasana, a mountain on Espiritu Santo
- Champaign Beach, the most popular beach in Espiritu Santo
- Yasur, an active volcano on Tanna Island
- Port Vila the capital of Vanuatu
- Port Olry
Vanuatu has a tropical climate, which is near equatorial. The average summer temperature, which lasts from December to February, is +27°C … +30°C. During the winter months (from May to September) the temperature decreases to +22°C … +25°C, and in the mountains to +10°C … +12°C. The rainy season on all islands of Vanuatu lasts from January to March, with February being the wettest month of the year. The driest months are August and September. The average annual rainfall ranges from 2800 mm to 4000 mm in the northern islands and from 1500 mm to 2300 mm in the southern islands.
The population of Vanuatu is 274,287 (data as of February 2017), predominantly Melanesian Ni-Vanuatu (native 95%). There are also 4% Europeans and 1% Asian and Oceaniaans. Life expectancy for women is 69-70 years, and for men 65-66 years.
Official languages of Vanuatu are Bislama (Creole), English and French. The local population speaks 100 different dialects of Melanesian languages.
The majority of the faithful in Vanuatu are Christian (Presbyterian, Anglican, Catholic, Protestant, and Seventh-day Adventist), who constitute 84.5 per cent of the total faithful population. 10% are Buddhists and 5.5% of the population practice traditional local beliefs.
- January 1 – New Year
- February 21 – Memorial Day of the Father of Vanuatu’s Independence, the Reverend Walter Lini
- 6 March – Council of Chiefs Day
- 1 May – Labour Day
- 15 August – Assumption
- 24 July – Children’s Day
- July 30 – Independence Day
- October 5 – Constitution Day
- November 29 – Unity Day
- 25 December – Christmas
- December 26 – Family Day
Here’s a little list of the most common souvenirs that tourists usually bring from Vanuatu:
- handmade beads and bracelets
- Wild boar tusks
- Coral or turtle bone products (you need a permit from the Department of Fisheries to export them)
- Kava, the national drink
- ritual masks
- Souvenir daggers, crossbows, bows and boomerangs
- Figurines of deities, people, and animals carved out of wood
“No nail and no rod” or customs regulations
Vanuatu customs regulations permit the import/export of foreign and local currency in unlimited quantities.
Up to 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco; up to 1.5 liters of spirits and up to 2 liters of wine; up to 250 grams of toilet water and up to 100 ml of perfume; and clothing, shoes and accessories for personal use are allowed duty-free importation.
The import/export of weapons and ammunition, drugs and narcotics, poisonous and explosives is prohibited.
To export souvenirs from Vanuatu made of coral or turtle bone, you must obtain a permit from the Department of Fisheries, failing which the items will be confiscated. Seeds, plants, meat and dairy products require a permit from the Department of Agriculture. A written permit must be obtained from Port Vila for the importation of pets (3 months prior to departure).
Voltage of the electricity grid
Mains voltage: 230 volts, 50 Hz. Type of sockets: Type I.
Phone number and domain name
Phone country code: +678 First-level domain name: .vu
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