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Vanuatu country facts

Republic of Vanuatu Australia-Oceania Port-Vila (on Efate) 266,937 inhabitants 12,189 sq km 21.90 inhabitants/sq km vatu (VUV) population evolution



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

Area (sq km)

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 (sq km)

slightly larger than Connecticut

Land boundaries (km)

0 km

Coastline (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

Elevation extremes (m)

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Tabwemasana 1,877 m

Natural resources

manganese, hardwood forests, fish

Land use (%)

arable land: 1.64%
permanent crops: 10.25%
other: 88.11% (2011)

Irrigated land (sq km)


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


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.)

Languages (%)

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

Religions (%)

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.)


266,937 (July 2014 est.)   evolution and prospects (1950-2100)

Age structure (%)

0-14 years: 37.3% (male 50,810/female 48,753)
15-24 years: 19.8% (male 26,341/female 26,620)
25-54 years: 34.2% (male 44,732/female 46,545)
55-64 years: 5% (male 6,751/female 6,599)
65 years and over: 3.6% (male 5,020/female 4,766) (2014 est.)

Age structure in Vanuatu

Median age (years)

total: 21.1 years
male: 20.7 years
female: 21.4 years (2014 est.)

Population growth rate (%)

2.01% (2014 est.)

Birth rate (births/1,000 population)

25.69 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Death rate (deaths/1,000 population)

4.14 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Net migration rate (migrant(s)/1,000 population)

-1.5 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Urbanization (%)

urban population: 24.9% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 3.64% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

PORT-VILA (capital) 47,000 (2011)

Sex ratio (male(s)/female)

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: 1.07 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2014 est.)

Maternal mortality rate (deaths/100,000 live births)

110 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)

Infant mortality rate (deaths/1,000 live births)

total: 16.41 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 17.53 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 15.23 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)

Life expectancy at birth (years)

total population: 72.72 years
male: 71.16 years
female: 74.36 years (2014 est.)

Total fertility rate (children born/woman)

3.36 children born/woman (2014 est.)

Health expenditures (% of GDP)

4.1% of GDP (2011)

Physicians density (physicians/1,000 population)

0.12 physicians/1,000 population (2008)

Hospital bed density (beds/1,000 population)

1.7 beds/1,000 population (2008)

Drinking water source (% of population)

improved: urban: 97.8% of population
rural: 88.3% of population
total: 90.7% of population
unimproved: urban: 2.2% of population
rural: 11.7% of population
total: 9.3% of population (2012 est.)

Sanitation facility access (% of population)

improved: urban: 65.1% of population
rural: 55.4% of population
total: 57.9% of population
unimproved: urban: 34.9% of population
rural: 44.6% of population
total: 42.1% of population (2012 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate (%)


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Obesity - adult prevalence rate (%)

27.5% (2008)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight (%)

11.7% (2007)

Education expenditures (% of GDP)

5% of GDP (2009)

Literacy (%)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 83.2%
male: NA 84.9%
female: NA 81.6% (2011 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education) (years)

total: 11 years
male: 11 years
female: 10 years (2004)


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

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 1981, 1983, 1988 (2006)

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


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Iolu Johnson ABBIL (since 3 September 2009)
head of government: Prime Minister Joe NATUMAN (since 14 May 2014)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister, responsible to parliament
elections: president elected for a five-year term by an electoral college consisting of parliament and the presidents of the regional councils; election for president last held on 2 September 2009 (next to be held in 2014); 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 23 March 2013 (next to be held following general elections in 2016)
election results: Iolu Johnson ABBIL elected president, with 41 votes out of 58, on the third ballot on 2 September 2009; Joe NATUMAN elected prime minister following a no confidence vote against the government of Moana CARCASSES Kalosil on 15 May 2014

Legislative branch

unicameral Parliament (52 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held on 30 October 2012 (next to be held in 2016)
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
note: the National Council of Chiefs advises on matters of culture and language

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of a chief justice and 3 judges); note - appeals from 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 [NA]
Land and Justice Party (Graon mo Jastis Pati) or GJP [Ralph REGENVANU]
Melanesian Progressive Party or MPP [Barak SOPE]
Nagriamel movement or NAG [NA]
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 Progressive Development Party or VPDP [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, currently Ambassador Walter E. North, 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, 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

National symbol(s)

boar's tusk

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 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. In response to foreign concerns, the government has promised to tighten regulation of its offshore financial center. In mid-2002, the government 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. Australia and New Zealand are the main suppliers of tourists and foreign aid.

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$1.27 billion (2013 est.)
$1.23 billion (2012 est.)
$1.203 billion (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$828 million (2013 est.)

GDP - real growth rate (%)

3.3% (2013 est.)
2.3% (2012 est.)
1.4% (2011 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$4,800 (2013 est.)
$4,900 (2012 est.)
$4,900 (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

GDP - composition, by sector of origin (%)

agriculture: 22.4%
industry: 9.7%
services: 67.9% (2013 est.)

Labor force

115,900 (2007)

Labor force - by occupation (%)

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

Unemployment rate (%)

1.7% (1999)

Population below poverty line (%)


Household income or consumption by percentage share (%)

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


revenues: $203.5 million
expenditures: $201.3 million (2013 est.)

Taxes and other revenues (% of GDP)

24.6% of GDP (2013 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) (% of GDP)

0.3% of GDP (2013 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices) (%)

1.9% (2013 est.)
1.4% (2012 est.)

Central bank discount rate (%)

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

Commercial bank prime lending rate (%)

6.7% (31 December 2013 est.)
6% (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$270.7 million (31 December 2013 est.)
$264.1 million (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of broad money

$644 million (31 December 2013 est.)
$643.3 million (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$560.8 million (31 December 2013 est.)
$549.4 million (31 December 2012 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares


Agriculture - products

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


food and fish freezing, wood processing, meat canning

Industrial production growth rate (%)

4.8% (2013 est.)

Current account balance

-$118 million (2013 est.)
-$128.6 million (2012 est.)


$43.1 million (2013 est.)
$57.5 million (2012 est.)

Exports - commodities (%)

copra, beef, cocoa, timber, kava, coffee

Exports - partners (%)

Thailand 41.9%, Cote dIvoire 30.5%, Japan 14.7% (2012)


$319.4 million (2013 est.)
$322.6 million (2012 est.)

Imports - commodities (%)

machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, fuels

Imports - partners (%)

China 20.2%, Singapore 18.8%, US 15%, Japan 11.6%, Australia 10.4%, Fiji 5.2%, NZ 4.8% (2012)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$174.2 million (31 December 2013 est.)
$187.3 million (31 December 2012 est.)

External debt ($)

$307.7 million (31 December 2011 est.)
$258.9 million (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home

$620.1 million (31 December 2013 est.)
$565.1 million (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad

$21.3 million (31 December 2013 est.)
$22.3 million (31 December 2012 est.)

Exchange rates

Currency converter
vatu (VUV) per US dollar -
92.38 (2013 est.)
92.64 (2012 est.)
96.91 (2010 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year


Electricity - production (kWh)

55 million kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - consumption (kWh)

51.15 million kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - exports (kWh)

0 kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - imports (kWh)

0 kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity (kW)

28,000 kW (2010 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels (% of total installed capacity)

89.3% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels (% of total installed capacity)

0% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants (% of total installed capacity)

0% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources (% of total installed capacity)

10.7% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Crude oil - production (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - exports (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Crude oil - imports (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves (bbl)

0 bbl (1 January 2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption (bbl/day)

1,170 bbl/day (2011 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports (bbl/day)

838 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Natural gas - production (cu m)

0 cu m (2011 est.)

Natural gas - consumption (cu m)

0 cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - exports (cu m)

0 cu m (2011 est.)

Natural gas - imports (cu m)

0 cu m (2011 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves (cu m)

0 cu m (1 January 2013 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy (Mt)

149,000 Mt (2011 est.)


Telephones - main lines in use

5,800 (2012)

Telephones - mobile cellular

137,000 (2012)

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 hosts

5,655 (2012)

Internet users

17,000 (2009)



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)

Roadways (km)

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)

Manpower available for military service

males age 16-49: 62,216 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service

males age 16-49: 43,331
females age 16-49: 44,927 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually

male: 2,323
female: 2,230 (2010 est.)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

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

Largest cities of Vanuatu

These are the 50 largest cities of Vanuatu ordered based on their number of inhabitants.

# City Population
1 Vila 35,903
2 Luganville 13,398