The Republic of Vanuatu is a Pacific island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean.
Vanuatu is an archipelago consisting of about 82 relatively small islands of volcanic origin (65 of them inhabited), with about 1,300 kilometres (810 mi) between the most northern and southern islands. The nation’s largest towns are the capital Port Vila, on Efate, and Luganville on Espiritu Santo. Most of the islands are steep, with unstable soils and little permanent fresh water. There are several active volcanoes in Vanuatu, including Lopevi, Mount Yasur, and several underwater volcanoes. Volcanic activity and earthquakes are common, with an ever-present danger of a major eruption. The climate is tropical, with about nine months of warm to hot rainy weather and the possibility of cyclones and three to four months of cooler, drier weather. Vanuatu has a long rainy season, with significant rainfall almost every month.
Language: Bislama, English, French. 113 indigenous languages are still used.
Ethnic Groups: 98% Ni-Vanuatu (Melanesian descent), the remainder being a mix of Europeans, Asians and Pacific Islanders. About 20,000 Ni-Vanuatu work in Australia and New Zealand.
GDP: $3,000 per capita
Capital: Port Vila (Efate Island)
Religions: Christianity is the predominant religion in Vanuatu, consisting of several denominations. The Presbyterian Church in Vanuatu, adhered to by about one-third of the population, is the largest of them and has significant influence in the cultural and political life of Ni-Vanuatu. Because of the modern goods that the military in World War II brought with them when they came to the islands, several cargo cults developed. Many died out, but the John Frum cult on Tanna is still large.
Government: Unitary parliamentary republic
History: Vanuatu was first inhabited by Melanesian people. The first Europeans to visit the islands were a Spanish expedition led by Portuguese navigator Fernandes de Queirós, who arrived on the largest island in 1606. Queirós claimed the archipelago for Spain, as part of the colonial Spanish East Indies, and named it La Austrialia del Espíritu Santo.
In the 1880s, France and the United Kingdom claimed parts of the archipelago, and in 1906 they agreed on a framework for jointly managing the archipelago as the New Hebrides through a British–French Condominium.
In 1825, the discovery of sandalwood on the island of Erromango began a rush of immigrants that ended in 1830 after a clash between immigrant Polynesian workers and indigenous Melanesians. During the 1860s, planters in Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, and the Samoa 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 the adult male population of several of the islands worked abroad.
In the 19th century, Catholic and Protestant missionaries from Europe and North America went to the islands to work with the people. Settlers came looking for land on which to establish cotton plantations. When international cotton prices collapsed, planters switched to coffee, cocoa, bananas, and, most successfully, coconuts.
Education is not compulsory, and school enrolments and attendance are among the lowest in the Pacific.
An independence movement arose in the 1970s, and the Republic of Vanuatu was founded in 1980.
CCI Ministry here: We held our first graduation in Vanuatu in 2016, for a pastor on Esperito Santos. In March 2017, we have 3 classes running. We are in the process of relationship building with key leaders across Vanuatu, in the hope that this training will become widespread there. Although evangelism has been widespread throughout Vanuatu, discipleship and leadership training has been limited, leaving local believers vulnerable to false teaching, partly exacerbated by their low literacy rates.
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