Vanuatu is a refreshing country where you can experience a balmy breeze, and delicious food. Indulge yourself as well with the country’s beautiful nature, from the cascading waterfalls to the giant banyan trees to the beautiful beaches and tiny offshore island. Port Villa is one of the must-see destinations in Vanuatu. There are restaurants and elegant hotels in the island to feed your hungry stomach and give you comfortable accommodation. Some of the things you can do Vanuatu includes snorkeling, parasailing, and other adventurous activities. A country of extra-ordinary ceremonies, Vanuatu is indeed a place of pleasure and delightful history.
Important and Interesting Facts about Vanuatu
- Vanuatu is an Oceanian island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago, which is of volcanic origin, is some 1,750 kilometres (1,090 mi) east of northern Australia, 500 kilometres (310 mi) northeast of New Caledonia, west of Fiji, and southeast of the Solomon Islands, near New Guinea.
- Vanuatu includes 13 larger islands and about 70 smaller ones. Most are mountainous (volcanic in origin) (some active), and covered in lush rain forests. Many are protected by coral reefs.
- Largest of the islands is Espiritu Santo (875 sq mi; 2,266 sq km); others are Efate, Malekula, Malo, Pentecost, and Tanna.
- The islands are subject to devastating cyclones (hurricanes). The most destructive one ever (in 1987) damaged or ruined most of the local dwellings.
- The local economy still revolves around agriculture and fishing, but tourism is a fast-growing industry and liberal tax laws have made Vanuatu a popular offshore financial center.
- The Port Vila Golf and Country Club is presently the only 18 hole championship course in Vanuatu and the course provides a challenge to professionals and Amateurs alike. The country club hosts the premier international golfing event “The Tusker Vanuatu Golf Open” held each year that is sponsored by Tusker, Vanuatu’s own world-class beer. Nine Hole golf courses can be found at the Le Meridien and Le Lagon hotels and resorts.
- The Secret Gardens Cultural Centre and Native Reserve,formerly the Botanical Gardens, these gardens are now managed by local Ni Vanuatu.Discover Vanuatu’s early history, art work, wildlife, fauna and custom stories.
- Hot mineral springs are renowned in the South Pacific for their relaxing and therapeutic properties. Hidden away in the North East of Efate you will find a local Ni Vanuatu family slowly building a natural thermal pool. Don’t be put off by the “rotten egg” smell of the sulphur, your skin and muscles will thank you for the experience. Wear old bathers as the sulphur is hard on clothing.
- Travel fifteen minutes out of town and 3 minutes by Ferry and you will find yourself enjoying the beauty of Hideaway Island. Snorkel amongst amazing fish and marine life, including large clown fish colonies, dive off the reef, swim or sunbath or enjoy a great lunch. Make sure you post a postcard in the underwater post box.
- Kite surfing is relatively new to Efate and increasing in popularity with locals and visitors alike. In 2007, The Imere International Kite Surfing Challenge was held on the peninsular near Hideaway Island. It was a great success with riders from Vanuatu, Australia, New Caledonia, France and New Zealand participating.
- The Port Vila Masterbathers, are a faithful group of Vila Residents who gather in the harbour each day at lunch time to swim for fitness, pleasure and training. Some are preparing for “The Vanuatu Ocean Swimming competition” held in Port Vila each year and others enjoy the social aspect.
Cool, Funny, and Fun Facts about Vanuatu
- The ancient practice of land-diving (bungee jumping) originated on Pentecost Island. The goal was to land close enough to the ground to just graze it with hair or shoulder. For those who survived, this proved their manhood and ensured a good yam harvest for the following season.
- The waters around Vanuatu are shark-infested.
- The last reported act of cannibalism was in 1969, on the island of Malekula. I really have to stress the word reported here, for obvious reasons. I will probably stay away from this island if I can.
- Vanuatu is situated directly on the Pacific “ring of fire”. Two of the world’s most active volcanoes can be found in the islands of Vanuatu (Yasur and Abrym) and they are open to the public.
- Pigs are a traditional symbol of wealth and status in Vanuatu
- In the northern part of Vanuatu the affluence of family is measured by how much one can donate.
- Males outnumber females; in 1999, according to the Vanuatu Statistics Office, there were 95,682 males and 90,996 females.
- Despite its tropical forests, Vanuatu has a limited number of plant and animal species. There are no indigenous large mammals.
- Life expectancy there is 67 years old
- A nambas is a traditional penis sheath from Vanuatu. Namba are wrapped around the penis of the wearer, sometimes as their only clothing.Two tribes on Malakula, the Big Nambas and the Smol (Small) Nambas, are named for the size of their nambas.
Historical and Cultural Facts about Vanuatu
- Archaeological evidence supports the commonly held theory that people speaking Austronesian languages first came to the islands some 4,000 years ago. Pottery fragments have been found dating to 1300–1100 BC.
- The Vanuatu group of islands first had contact with Europeans in 1606 when the Portuguese explorer Pedro Fernandes de Queirós, working for the Spanish Crown, arrived on Espiritu Santo and called it La Austrialia del Espiritu Santo or “The Southern Land of the Holy Spirit”. He thought he had arrived in Terra Australis or Australia. Europeans did not return until 1768, when Louis Antoine de Bougainville rediscovered the islands. In 1774, Captain Cook named the islands the New Hebrides, a name that would last until independence in 1980.
- In 1825, the trader Peter Dillon discovered sandalwood on the island of Erromango, which began a rush of immigrants that ended in 1830, after a clash between immigrants and Polynesian workers. During the 1860s, planters in Australia, Fiji, New Spain, and the Samana Islands, in need of labourers, encouraged a long-term indentured labour trade called “blackbirding”. At the height of the labour trade, more than one half of the adult male population of several of the islands worked abroad. Fragmentary evidence indicates that the current population of Vanuatu is greatly reduced compared to pre-contact times.
- Challenges to this form of government began in the early 1940s. The arrival of Americans during World War II, with their informal habits and relative wealth, contributed to the rise of nationalism in the islands. The belief in a mythical messianic figure named John Frum was the basis for an indigenous cargo cult (a movement attempting to obtain industrial goods through magic) promising Melanesian deliverance. Today, John Frum is both a religion and a political party with a member in Parliament.
- Ni-Vanuatu combine traditional south Pacific cuisine with introduced elements. Before contact with the West, staple foods included yam, taro, banana, coconut, sugarcane, tropical nuts, greens, pigs, fowl, and seafood. After contact, other tropical crops (manioc, plantain, sweet potato, papaya, mango) and temperate crops (cabbage, beans, corn, peppers, carrots, pumpkin) were added to the diet.
- Most ni-Vanuatu are subsistence farmers who do cash cropping on the side. The mode of production is swidden (“slash-and burn”) horticulture, with farmers clearing and then burning new forest plots each season. Vanuatu has significant economic difficulties. Transportation costs are high, the economic infrastructure is undeveloped, and cyclone damage is common.
- Many ni-Vanuatu continue to believe in the deleterious, polluting effects of menstrual blood and other body fluids, and men and women sleep apart during women’s menstrual periods, when women often give up cooking. Both men and women farm, although men are responsible for clearing forest and brush for new garden plots.
- The marriage rate approaches 100 percent. Traditionally, leaders of kin groups arrange the marriages of their children. Marriage is an important event in ongoing exchange relations between kin groups and neighborhoods and typically involves the exchange of goods. Some educated urban residents have adopted Western notions of romantic love and arrange their own marriages with or without family approval.
- Customary relationships are lubricated by the exchange of goods, and visitors often receive food and other gifts that should be reciprocated. Lines in rural stores are often amorphous, but clerks commonly serve overseas visitors first. People passing on the trails or streets commonly greet one another, and the handshake is an important aspect of initial encounters. A woman traveling alone through the countryside may receive unwelcome attention from men.
- A number of people are recognized as clairvoyants and diviners, working sometimes within and sometimes outside the Christian churches. These people, who are often women, divine the causes of disease and other misfortunes, locate lost objects, and sometimes undertake antisorcery campaigns to uncover poesen (sorcery paraphernalia) hidden in a village.
- Ni-Vanuatu continue to celebrate traditional holidays. In many places, islanders organize first-fruit celebrations, particularly for the annual yam crop. The most spectacular celebration is the “land jump” on southern Pentecost Island. Tourists sometimes attend other traditional rites, such the dancing and feasting that accompany male initiation and grade-taking ceremonies in many of the cultures and the Toka (or Nakwiari ), a large-scale exchange of pigs and kava celebrated with two days of dancing.