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Flag of Vanuatu
Map of Vanuatu
Introduction Vanuatu
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.
Geography Vanuatu
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: 12,200 sq km
land: 12,200 sq km
note: includes more than 80 islands
water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly larger than Connecticut
Land boundaries:
0 km
2,528 km
Maritime claims:
measured from claimed archipelagic baselines
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
continental shelf: 200 NM or to the edge of the continental margin
contiguous zone: 24 NM
tropical; moderated by southeast trade winds
mostly mountains of volcanic origin; narrow coastal plains
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Tabwemasana 1,877 m
Natural resources:
manganese, hardwood forests, fish
Land use:
arable land: 2.46%
permanent crops: 7.38%
other: 90.16% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
NA sq km
Natural hazards:
tropical cyclones or typhoons (January to April); volcanism causes minor earthquakes; tsunamis
Environment - current issues:
a majority of the population does not have access to a potable and reliable supply of 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
People Vanuatu
196,178 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 35.6% (male 35,681; female 34,164)
15-64 years: 61.1% (male 61,384; female 58,473)
65 years and over: 3.3% (male 3,473; female 3,003) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.66% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
24.83 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
8.25 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.16 male(s)/female
total population: 1.05 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
59.58 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 61.33 years
female: 62.8 years (2002 est.)
male: 59.93 years
Total fertility rate:
3.08 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: Ni-Vanuatu (singular and plural)
adjective: Ni-Vanuatu
Ethnic groups:
indigenous Melanesian 98%, French, Vietnamese, Chinese, other Pacific Islanders
Presbyterian 36.7%, Anglican 15%, Roman Catholic 15%, indigenous beliefs 7.6%, Seventh-Day Adventist 6.2%, Church of Christ 3.8%, other 15.7% (including Jon Frum Cargo cult)
three official languages: English, French, pidgin (known as Bislama or Bichelama), plus more than 100 local languages
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 53%
male: 57%
female: 48% (1979 est.)
Government Vanuatu
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Vanuatu
conventional short form: Vanuatu
former: New Hebrides
Government type:
parliamentary republic
Administrative divisions:
6 provinces; Malampa, Penama, Sanma, Shefa, Tafea, Torba
30 July 1980 (from France and UK)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 30 July (1980)
30 July 1980
Legal system:
unified system being created from former dual French and British systems
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Father John BANI (since 25 March 1999)
elections: president elected for a four-year term by an electoral college consisting of Parliament and the presidents of the regional councils for a five-year term; election for president last held 25 March 1999 (next to be held NA 2004); following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition is usually elected prime minister by Parliament from among its members; election for prime minister last held 2 May 2002 (next to be held NA 2003)
note: the government of Prime Minister Barak SOPE was ousted in a no confidence vote on 14 April 2001 and Edward NATAPEI was elected the new prime minister by Parliament
election results: Father John BANI elected president; percent of electoral college vote - NA%; Edward NATAPEI reelected prime minister by Parliament
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister, responsible to Parliament
head of government: Prime Minister Edward NATAPEI (since 16 April 2001); Deputy Prime Minister Serge VOHOR (since 16 April 2001)
Legislative branch:
unicameral Parliament (52 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 2 May 2002 (next to be held NA 2006)
note: the National Council of Chiefs advises on matters of custom and land
election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - UMP 15, VP 14, VRP 3, MPP 2, other and independent 18; note - political party associations are fluid
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (chief justice is appointed by the president after consultation with the prime minister and the leader of the opposition, three other justices are appointed by the president on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission)
Political parties and leaders:
Jon Frum Movement [Song KEASPAI]; Melanesian Progressive Party or MPP [Barak SOPE]; National United Party or NUP [Dinh Van THAN]; Union of Moderate Parties or UMP [Serge VOHOR]; Vanuaaku Party (Our Land Party) or VP [Edward NATAPEI]; Vanuatu Republican Party [Maxime Carlot KORMAN]
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 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 leaves, all in yellow
Economy Vanuatu
Economy - overview:
The economy is based primarily on subsistence or small-scale agriculture which provides a living for 65% of the population. Fishing, offshore financial services, and tourism, with about 50,000 visitors in 1997, are other mainstays of the economy. Mineral deposits are negligible; the country has no known petroleum deposits. A small light industry sector caters to the local market. Tax revenues come mainly from import duties. 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. A severe earthquake in November 1999 followed by a tsunami, caused extensive damage to the northern island of Pentecote and left thousands homeless. Another powerful earthquake in January 2002 caused extensive damage in the capital, Port-Vila, and surrounding areas, and also was followed by a tsunami. GDP growth has risen less than 3% on average in the 1990s. In response to foreign concerns, the government has promised to tighten regulation of its offshore financial center.
purchasing power parity - $257 million (2000 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
2.7% (2000 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $1,300 (2000 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 26%
industry: 12%
services: 62% (2000 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.5% (2000 est.)
Labor force:
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 65%, services 30%, industry 5% (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate:
revenues: $94.4 million
expenditures: $99.8 million, including capital expenditures of $30.4 million
food and fish freezing, wood processing, meat canning
Industrial production growth rate:
1% (1997 est.)
Electricity - production:
39 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
36.27 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
copra, coconuts, cocoa, coffee, taro, yams, coconuts, fruits, vegetables; fish, beef
$22.8 million f.o.b. (2000)
Exports - commodities:
copra, kava, beef, cocoa, timber, coffee
Exports - partners:
Japan 32%, Belgium 17%, US 17%, Germany 8% (2000)
$87.5 million f.o.b. (2000)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, fuels
Imports - partners:
Australia 28%, Singapore 14%, New Zealand 8%, Japan 4%, US 1% (2000)
Debt - external:
$64.6 million (1999 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$45.8 million (1995)
vatu (VUV)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
vatu per US dollar - 146.02 (December 2001), 145.31 (2001), 137.64 (2000), 129.08 (1999), 127.52 (1998), 115.87 (1997)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Vanuatu
Telephones - main lines in use:
5,500 (1998)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
310 (2000)
Telephone system:
general assessment: NA
domestic: NA
international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 2, FM 2, shortwave 1 (2002)
67,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
1 (2002)
2,300 (1999)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2000)
Internet users:
3,000 (2000)
Transportation Vanuatu
0 km
total: 1,070 km
paved: 256 km
unpaved: 814 km (1996)
Ports and harbors:
Forari, Port-Vila, Santo (Espiritu Santo)
Merchant marine:
total: 54 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,092,838 GRT/1,329,576 DWT
ships by type: bulk 22, cargo 9, chemical tanker 1, combination bulk 3, container 2, liquefied gas 3, petroleum tanker 1, refrigerated cargo 7, vehicle carrier 6
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Australia 3, Canada 2, China 1, Japan 25, Monaco 4, Netherlands 1, New Zealand 5, Panama 1, Poland 1, Switzerland 2, United Kingdom 4, US 2, Vietnam 1 (2002 est.)
31 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 27
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 10
under 914 m: 17 (2002)
Military Vanuatu
Military branches:
no regular military forces; Vanuatu Police Force (VPF; including the paramilitary Mobile Force or VMF)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Transnational Issues Vanuatu
Disputes - international:
Matthew and Hunter Islands east of New Caledonia claimed by Vanuatu and France

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003