Country - Vanuatu


Vanuatu Country Information

Vanuatu is a place of innumerable volcanic islands, some of them dormant and some, spectacularly active !!!

Vanuatu is an archipelago of 82 islands located 1750 kilometers northeast of Australia in the Pacific Ocean.  Of all the islands, 65 are inhabited by humans. The islands are found to have been formed as a result of volcanic eruptions in the hoary past. Prior to gaining independence, Vanuatu was known by the former names New Hebrides or Nouvelles Hebrides and was under the colonial rule of France and the United Kingdom. Port Vila is the capital and the largest city of Vanuatu.

The total population of Vanuatu was 270,402 as of 2016 with an average density of population of 19 people per square kilometer. The per capita GDP (nominal) was US $2814 as per the estimate of 2017. One of the main official languages Bislama is a mixed creole of 95% of English and a few dozen words of French and some words derived from local languages used while referring to flora and fauna.

Vanuatu mainly exports copra (dried coconut hollow-kernels from which oil is extracted) which forms 35% of the total exports. The other commodities of exports include tugboats, non-fillet frozen fish, timber, beef, cocoa and kava root extracts. The major items of imports are passenger and cargo ships, refined petroleum, machinery and equipment, foodstuffs and fuels. The economy of Vanuatu is basically dependent on subsistence agriculture, fishing, tourism and off-shore financial services. The total value of exports was US $274 million and that of imports was US $323 million in 2016 with a negative trade balance of $48.9 million.

Anthropologists emphasize that Vanuatu is one of the dangerous countries in the world, both in terms of earthquakes and human-flesh eating cannibals. The latest incidence of cannibalism was officially reported as recently as 1969. It is not known whether all the subsequent cannibal activities, if any, have been taken a note of by international media. The seismic events would be about 2000 in a year.

The Yasur mountain, despite its infernal history, is surprisingly a sight of attraction for tourists. Oozing magma for over 800 years, the mountain does not seem to have a more serious rival in Vanuatu than itself. Adventure seekers get the thrill of watching one of the most lethal natural entities on the earth. 

There exists an underwater post office beneath the sea waters at the Mele Island of Vanuatu and it is very much operational during certain of hours of every day, except on holidays. Specially designed water-proof postcards/envelopes with pre-embossed stamps are posted by the diving people who wish to send their mails. During the working hours of the post office in a day a flag is hoisted above the seawater level to indicate its functioning. The entire enigmatic exercise boils down to a single question --- why the heck should one send a mail through water instead of simply sending it on land normally? But, being extremely logical and down-to-earth is sometimes against the adventurist spirit of true tourism.

The south Pacific Coast of Pentecost Island is known for weird practices, such as N’gol (land-diving) by locals in the spring season. When the rudimentary roots of yam begin to show up, the natives of the island erect tall structures of wooden towers, some of them reaching a height of 75 feet and tie their ankles with two long elastic vines and shout loudly to the outside world their most cherished inner personal thoughts standing on the leaping pad and take headlong plunge with an estimated calculation that the hair on the head of the inverted body just touches the ground which would supposedly make the land fertile to produce bumper yield of yam. Performers do not mind losing their lives in the process ignoring the imminent lethality from the feat of rituals.  

The Million Dollar Point in the island of Espiritu Santo is an underground historical site which narrates the story of willful destruction of American war equipment by the USA itself. The island which had been used as a military base by the USA to fight against Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbour was littered with war equipment. When the USA had offered to sell the military tanks, cannons, guns, grenade launchers, vehicles etc., at pretty cheaper rates, the Anglo-French rulers turned a deaf ear presuming that all the equipment would be left abandoned by the USA and Vanuatu could gain possession of all the arsenals free-of-cost. Ired by the nonchalance of the local government of Vanuatu, the American soldiers dumped the entire military arsenal into the ocean rendering unusable in future. Though Vanuatu was able to salvage a large part of the wreckage worth millions of dollars after the Americans finally departed, the marine waters remained highly polluted by military debris. Snorkelling into the area will show the left-overs of the rubble, narrating to the divers the episode of international discord.

In Walarano of Vanuatu, the Ambelbati Cannibal site stands as the place where once the people suspected as foes were killed, their dead bodies were cut into pieces and burnt on a pyre for the purpose devouring by the cannibals. The ghastly practice seems to be out of vogue in the present times.

Since Vanuatu is made of numerous volcanic islands, seeking to visit a volcano is as easy as plucking a grain from the plethora of kernels from the surface of a corncob. Volcanoes are omnipresent in Vanuatu.  Tanna Island is the most common volcanic spot tourists are normally led to by tourists. Flashy upheavals of lava are at the highest range at Tanna Island. The less visited volcanoes but deserving inevitable inclusion in the list of visiting places are the pair of volcanoes Maroum and Benbow in the Ambrym Island. In spite of infernal heat, the spurts of semi-liquid molten magma radiate in brilliant orange red colour spewing out fire strands which is certainly a spell-binding spectacular sight.

Vanuatu is unequivocally a place which has for tourists the places that are extremely rare to find elsewhere on the planet.