Vanuatu in brief
2008-06-06 00:00

Full Name  Republic of Vanuatu

Independent Day  30 July

Head of State  President Kalkot Mataskelekele

Languages  English,French,  Bislama 

Religion  Christian (84%)

Currency  Vatu (VT) .

The Republic of Vanuatu is an island nation located in the
South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago is located some 1,750 km east of Australia, 500 km north-east of New Caledonia, west of Fiji and south of the Solomon Islands. It was named New Hebrides during its colonial period.

Vanuatu is an archipelago of 83 islands. Of all the 83 islands, 14 have surface areas of more than 100 square kilometers, from largest to smallest: Espiritu Santo (3956 km), Malakula (2041 km), Efaté (900 km), Erromango (888 km), Ambrym (678 km), Tanna (555 km), Pentecote (491 km), Epi (445 km), Ambae or Aoba (402 km), Vanua Lava (334 km), Santa Maria (328 km), Maéwo (304 km), Malo (180 km) and Anatom or Aneityum (159 km). The total land area is approximately 12,200 square kilometers and the territorial waters cover 450,000 square kilometers.

1994, eleven Local Government Councils of Vanuatu were changed in to six provinces: into, SANMA, ENAMA, MALAMPA, SHEFA, TAFEA. Each province has its own distinctive physical characteristics, culture and resources, all of which make
Vanuatu what it is, unique. Each province has its own range of powers to enable their governing bodies to administer them freely, under the central government's supervision and subject to the Judiciary, in compliance with the Constitution and the laws of the Republic.

Climate and Geography
The climate varies considerably from tropical to subtropical according to exposure to trade winds and elevation. The north is wetter and more humid than the south. The average
midday temperature in Port Vila is 29 degrees C. in summer and 25 degrees C. in winter. Rainfall is about 235 centimeters (90 inches) annually. Both the climate and arable soils are very conducive to the development of land and livestock husbandry.
Vanuatu is recognized as a distinct terrestrial ecoregion, known as the Vanuatu rain forests.

Most of the islands are mountainous and of volcanic origin, and have a tropical or sub-tropical climate. The nation's largest towns are the capital Port Vila, which is situated on Efate, and Luganville, on Espiritu Santo. The highest point in Vanuatu is Mount Tabwemasana, at 1879 m (6158 ft), on the island of Espiritu Santo. There are several active volcanoes in Vanuatu, including Yasur on the island of Tanna, one of the world's most accesible volcanoes, as well as several underwater ones.

The total population of Vanuatu is estimated to be 205,754 people
(estimated in July, 2005). About 95% of the population is indigenous known as "Ni-Vanuatu". The other segment of the population includes people of different nationalities, such as Australians, New Zealanders, Europeans, Asians and other Pacific Islanders. Over 20% live in the two large cities of Port Vila and Luganville. More than 30,000 people live in the capital city of Port Vila. A few of the islands are Polynesian outliers. About 2,000 Ni-Vanuatu live and work on New Caledonia.

Republic of Vanuatu is an independent parliamentary democracy, with 52 members of Parliament, for which general elections are held every 4 years.

The head of state is the President of the Republic, who is elected for a period of five years by an electoral college consisting of Members of Parliament and the Presidents of the Provincial Councils.

The Prime Minister and the 12 co-members of the council of ministers oversee the administration of Vanuatu's 13 government ministries.

The Constitution provides for executive and legislative arms of government, and the judiciary. The President is
Vanuatu's Head of State. The judiciary consists of the Supreme Court with a Chief Justice and a Magistrates Court.

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 60,000 visitors in 2005), are other mainstays of the economy. Tax revenues come mainly from import duties and a 12.5 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on goods and services.

Language and Education
The people speak over 100 indigenous languages. English, French and Bislama are the official languages. Business is conducted mainly in English, although there are many French companies who conduct their business in both French and English.

The principal languages of education are English and French, and with the current revised education policies, vernacular is being introduced in some schools in rural areas.

The University of the South Pacific has a campus in Port Vila with currently 930 students enrolled from around the pacific.