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Republic of Vanuatu                                                                              

Capital City                                                        

Port Vila (on the island of Efate)


12,189 km2 (4,706 sq miles)


Approximately 290,000
(Source: 2017 January Census, Vanuatu National Statistics Office)

Country Dialing Code



You can find out more about the rich history of Vanuatu by visting our history section.


The republic of Vanuatu is an independent parliamentary democracy, for which general elections are held every four years. The parliament of Vanuatu is unicameral, and has 52 members. The leader of the main party in the parliament is usually elected Prime Minister, and heads the government. The head of state, the President, is chosen every five years by the parliament and the presidents of the six provincial governments.


Vanuatu has six provinces. More information can be found here.


Vanuatu is an archipelago of 83 islands, of which two — Matthew and Hunter — are also claimed by the French overseas department of New Caledonia. Of all the 83 islands, 14 have surface areas of more than 100 square kilometres. 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 Mt Yasur on Tanna.


Despite its tropical forests, Vanuatu has a limited number of plant and animal species. There are no indigenous large mammals, poisonous snakes, or spiders. The 19 species of native reptiles include the rare flowerpot snake, found only on Efate. There are 11 species of bat (3 unique to Vanuatu) and 61 species of land and water birds. The region is rich in sea life, with more than 4,000 species of marine mollusks. The giant East African snail arrived only in the 1970s but already has spread from the Port Vila region to Luganville.


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 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 and a 15% Value Added Tax (VAT) on goods and services.


Most of the inhabitants of Vanuatu (98.5%) are native Melanesian, or Ni-Vanuatu, with the remainder of the population made up of Europeans, Asians and other Pacific Islanders. Most of the population is rural, though Port Vila and Luganville have populations in the tens of thousands. A few of the islands are Polynesian outliers.