Facts About Vanuatu

The Republic of Vanuatu          
is a string of 83 islands located in the South Pacific Ocean and formerly known as the New Hebrides. Until the 1980's the natives were still cannibalistic. Today, they are a very peaceful nation, still living simple lives that have changed little over the last two hundred years.   In some villages, the people still wear leaves rather than clothes and witchdoctors hold great power. Every day another Ni-Vanuatu person dies without Christ and so many of them have never once heard His salvation message.
South Pacific Ocean, near Solomon Islands, Fiji,
 and New Caledonia
3,200 mi NE of Australia
1,280 mi E of Fiji
4,707 sq mi - just smaller than Connecticut, just 
  larger than Puerto Rico
Area of Santo: 1,527 sq mi
83 islands total
64 islands are inhabited
Number of Islands:
264,652 (2013, National Statistics)
Official languages:
     English (spoken by educated)
     French (spoken by educated)
     Bislama (spoken by over 75%)
Mother tongues:
     Indigenous languages (more than 100): 63%
     Bislama: 34%
     English: 2%
     French: 0.6%
Presbyterian: 32%
Anglican: 13%
Roman Catholic: 13%
Seventh Day Adventist: 11%
Other “Christian” (including Apostolic, NTM, AOG,
  and Church of Christ): 14%
Indigenous beliefs (including John Frum Movement): 5.6%
Other (including JW, LDS, Buddhism and Islam): 9.6%
Unspecified: 1.3%
None: 1%
Cigarettes: 24%
Alcohol: 10%
Kava: 30%
Vices (Over 15):
Education (Over 15):
None: 15%
At least Pre-school: 85%
At least Primary: 57%
At least 8th grade: 29%
High school: 13%
Bachelors: 4%
Formal job: 26.7%
Volunteer: 2.1%
Unpaid family work: 8.8%
Producing goods for sale: 10.6%
Producing goods for own consumption: 44.3%
Electricity: 28%
Own generator: 1.7%
Solar: 3.5%
Gas: 2.8%
Kerosene lamp: 48%
Coleman lamp: 7%
Candles: 4.6%
Other: 4.0%
Main Lighting:
Motor vehicle: 7%
Motorbike: 1.7%
Boats: 2.6%
Canoe: 10%
Mobile phone: 76%
Households With:
Sources: 2009 National Population and Housing Census conducted by the Vanuatu government (A copy of all data from this census can be found at 2009_Census_Basic_Tables_Report_-_Vol1.pdf), Vanuatu National Statistics Office (http://www.vnso.gov.vu/)

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of food do they eat?

The most common foods are root vegetables such as Taro, Cassava, Yam, and Kumala (Sweet Potato). A more unique food is flying fox (giant fruit bat), which is considered a delicacy. Horses, cats, dogs, birds, and even rats are sometimes eaten in certain villages though not common household meals.
Laplap and bunya traditional meals made from root vegetables steamed in banana leaves and covered with coconut milk.

Do you speak the language?

Levi: Bislama,  yes.  Local dialects, no.
Jenn: I'm learning.

What is the weather or climate like?

Rainy and warm all year round.  We do have a rainy and dry season (although dry season is usually still pretty wet).
Summer is from November to March, the average temperature is 82°F. Winter is from April to September with the temperature averaging 73°F. 

How long does it take to get there?

There is no non-stop flight from U.S. to Vanuatu. 
First, is a flight (or a couple of flights) from the U.S. to Australia which could take up to 20 hours.  
Then, a flight from Australia to the captial of Vanuatu takes approx. 4 hours.
Then it is another 45 minute flight from the captial to our island, Espiritu Santo.
A total approx. travel time is 48 hours (including time zone changes and layover time).
Total approx. distance travel is 1500 miles

What is the literacy rate?

Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 85.2%
male: 86.6%
female: 83.8% (2015 est.)

What are the people like?

Very friendly and happy people. Extremely hospitable but also very superstitious.

What is their nationality?

Ni-Vanuatu - demonym (dervived from the name place) used to refer to all Melanesian ethnicities originating in Vanuatu. It also refers, more generally, to nationals and citizens of Vanuatu, whatever their ethnicity.

What is their economy like?

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. 

What is the terrain like?

Mostly mountainous islands of volcanic origin; narrow coastal plains