Information Services
National Tourism Office
PO Box 209
Port Vila, Vanuatu
Tel: (678) 22813/22685, Fax: (678) 23889

Physical geography

Vanuatu is comprised of a group of approx 80 islands, situated in the southwest Pacific, some 2,500km from Sydney, Australia, 2,000km north of Auckland, New Zealand, 804km west of Fiji. The archipelago is scattered over an area of approximately 800kms. The islands are volcanic in origin and there are five active volcanoes. Tanna Island, to the south of Port Vila, the capital, is the home of the famous Yasur Volcano - the world's most accessible active volcano. Santo, to the north, is the largest island in the group and a Mecca for diving enthusiasts.


Varies from tropical in the north to sub-tropical in the south, with temperatures averaging 27°C in the summer months (November to March) and 24°C in the cooler months. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Economic geography</H3> Copra and cocoa are the principal exports of Vanuatu and therefore its main source of overseas funds. However, over the last few years tourism has also been an important source of income and statistics show that the tourist trade is increasing annually. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Demography</H3> Vanuatu has a total population of 172,000 of which approx. 31,000 live in Port Vila, the capital, situated on Efate Island. There are over 1,000 villages scattered throughout the Group. The non-NI Vanuatu population consists of English, French, Vietnamese, Chinese plus other Pacific Islands. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>A brief history</H3> Vanuatu was first discovered by Pedro de Quiros, under the patronage of the King of Spain who, thinking he had discovered Australia named the island he landed on 'Australis del Espiritu Santo'. However, it was a century later before other explorers visited the Group, the most notable of these being Captain James Cook in 1774. He explored and mapped most of the Islands and named the Group the New Hebrides which was settled by Europeans in early 1800. The British and French Governments established the Condominium, whose administration lasted until independence in July 1980 when the name was changed to Vanuatu. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Religions</H3> Christianity - Presbyterian, Catholics, Anglican, Adventist (SDA), Assembly of God (AOG), Jehovah's Witnesses, Bahai, plus other reformed churches. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Languages spoken by nationals</H3> Although each island has its own dialect, the common language used is Bislama. English and French are the official languages used in business. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Time</H3> The standard time is GMT +11. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Currency</H3> The official currency of Vanuatu is the Vatu. However, Australian dollars are accepted in shops. A hundred Vatu equals approx 98 American cents. There is no restriction imposed on the importation of foreign currency through banking operations: travellers cheques, drafts and letters of credit. Local currency is not negotiable outside Vanuatu. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Official holidays (all offices and shops closed)</H3> 1 January, New Years Day - 5 March, Customs Chiefs Day - 28 March, Good Friday - 31 March, Easter Monday - 1 May, Labour Day - 8 May, Holy Thursday - 24 July, Childrens Day - 30 July, Independence Day - 15 August, Assumption - 5 October, Constitution Day - 29 November, Unity Day - 25 December, Christmas Day - 26 December, Family Day. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What one should not fail to see</H3> The numerous white sand beaches of Vanuatu, bordering the crystal clear waters of the Pacific which ideal for swimming, snorkelling, fishing, sailing, diving and water skiing. Efate Day Tour takes you over a 150km route through lush bush greenery and passes some of the most beautiful beaches in the South Pacific. <P>Tours are operated by Vanuatu Tours, Aliat WI Tours, Frank King Tours, Malekula and Ambrym and include coral viewing, leisure cruises, game such as aerial tours and inter-island tours. Tanna - Yasur Volcano - the world's most accessible volcano. Santo - a Mecca for diving enthusiasts. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Most favourable seasons for sojourns and touring</H3> May to November. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>How to dress</H3> Dress is very casual in Vanuatu - light summer dresses for women and shorts and summer shirts for men. Ties are not worn, but ladies usually dress up for the evening. Visitors are asked to respect local custom and to be suitably dressed when in town. A light sweater is advisable for cooler evenings in July and August. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Main holiday resorts </H3> Iriniki Island Resort, Le Lagon Parkroyal, Le Meridien Resort/casino. Ah Ton Motel, Beachcomber at Takara, Coral Motel apartments, Erakor Island resort, Golden Dragon Motel, Hideaway Island Resort, Irikiki Centre Ville Hotel, Kaiviti Village Motel, Pacific Lagoon apartments, Taimoru Hotel, Vila Chaumieres, White Sands Country Club, Windsor Hotel. Budget and adventure: Kalfabun guest house, Marina Motel, Nagar Resort, Shefa guest house Sutherland House, Wai Melmelo guest house. Santo: Bokissa Island Resort. Bougainville Resort, Hotel Santo, New Look Motel. Tanna: Tanna Beach Resort, White Grass bungalows. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Main holiday sports</H3> Swimming, diving, sailing, deep sea fishing, water skiing, boating, snorkelling and golf. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What to eat and drink</H3> Restaurants specialising in fresh local seafood. Island feast nights, several French restaurants Vietnamese and Chinese specialities. Local fruit and vegetables can be purchased at the market three days per week. Comprehensive selection of French wines and liquors as well as beer and spirits. Alcoholic beverages cannot be purchased after midday Saturdays until the following Monday morning. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What to buy</H3> Port Vila, the capital, is a duty free port for many items such as French perfumery, jewellery, porcelain figures, calculators, cosmetics, watches, sunglasses, radio-stereo equipment and camphorwood chests, alcohol, cigarettes. Genuine handicrafts made locally, such as carvings, drums, bowls, wooden dishes, baskets, mats and pottery. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Frontier formalities</H3> <H3>Passports and visas</H3> All visitors to Vanuatu must be in possession of a valid passport and an onward or return ticket. Visitors are permitted to stay for a period of 30 days, but this may be extended to a maximum of four months in stages of one month at a time. Countries where nationals do not require visas to enter the Republic of Vanuatu in accordance with the Visa Requirements (Exemption) Order, No. 30 of 1984: <P>Antigua & Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bermuda, Botswana, Brunei, Cameroon, China (Peoples Republic of), Cook Islands, Cuba, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominica, Eire, Fiji, Finland, France (including Overseas Departments & Territories), Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Grenada, Greece, Guyana, Hong Kong (holders Certificates of Identity and British Passports), India, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Kiribati, Korea (South), Lesotho, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Micronesia, (Federated States) Montserrat, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Niue, Norway, Palau (Belau), Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines Portugal, Samoa (Western), Singapore, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Spain, Sri Lanka, St. Christopher Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & Grenadines, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Kingdom & Dependencies, USA, Zambia, Zimbabwe. <H3>Health regulations</H3> No vaccinations are necessary except if arriving within six days from an infected area. <H3>Customs</H3> The following items may be brought into Vanuatu duty free: 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250 grams tobacco; two litres wine and one bottle (max. 1.5 litres) spirits; a quarter litre of eau de toilette; ten centilitres of perfume; other dutiable goods not exceeding 20,000 Vatu in value. <P>The above allowances apply only to persons over the age of 15 years. <P>Firearms and ammunition must be declared on arrival. <P>Plants - Import of plants, seeds, bulbs, cuttings prohibited without licence from the Ministry of Agrigulture. All plant material must be declared on arrival and is subject to examination. <P>Animals and animal material - Dogs and cats may enter Vanuatu from New Zealand and Australia, providing a permit is first obtained from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and providing the certificate issued by the Authorities of the exporting country is in compliance with the Import Permit Sanitary Certificate of country of origin. No other animals may be brought into the country. <P>Tax - Airport Departure Tax of 2,000 Vatu is levied on all passengers and is payable in Vanuatu at the check-in counter of the airline passengers are departing on. <P>Foreigners may bring in foreign notes in any amount. Vanuatu operates an international financial centre. <P>Yachts - Yachts entering Vanuatu must first be cleared at Port Vila or Luganville by customs officers. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Main travel routes </H3> Vanuatu is linked to the rest of the world by Air Vanuatu (From Australia/New Zealand/New Caledonia); Air Caledonia, New Caledonia; Air Pacific, Fiji; Solomon Islands - Solomons. The domestic airline is Vanair, linking most of the islands. <P>Car hire is available in Vila and as well as private and public buses. <P>Cruise ships - average of five calls per month into Vanuatu. <P>Inter-island shipping also available with cargo boats. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Miscellaneous</H3> The Pentecost Jump is an awe-inspiring event, performed annually on the Island of Pentecost. Divers leap from constructed towers up to 80 feet high with only thin vines attached to their ankles to halt their fall inches from the earth. The ritual is unique to the archipelago of Vanuatu. <P>Most major credit cards are accepted at the majority of shops, restaurants and rental agencies. <P>Tipping is not a custom in Vanuatu and visitors are requested to refrain from doing so. Electric current throughout is the country 22C cycles A.C. Most of the major hotels have 110 volt converters for razors. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>List of representatives abroad </H3> AUSTRALIA: Brisbane 4th Floor, 247 Adelaide Street, Brisbane QLD 4000, Australia, Tel: (617) 32212566, Fax: (617) 3213967 <P>Sydney: 2nd Floor, 17 Castelereigh Street, Sydney NS17 2000, Australia, Tel: (612) 223 8333, Fax: (612) Z23 8781, Toll free 0900 30 3330 <P>Melbourne: 6th Floor 126 Wellington Parade East Melbourne, VIC 3002, AUSTRALIA, Tel: (613) 9417 3977, Fax: (613) 94175977 <P>Auckland: 2nd Floor West Plaza Building, Cnr Customs and Albert St, Auckland 1, NEW ZEALaND, Tel: (649) 373 3435, Fax: (649) 3581413 <P>DENMARK: Aviation & Tourism International, 28 Bredgade, 1260 Copenhagen, Denmark, Tel: (45) 331102 02 or (45) 33 11 33 80 <P>FRANCE: Aviation & Tourism International, 9 Rue Daru, 75008 Paris, France, Tel: (331) 40 53 82 25, Fax: (331) 40 53 82 20 <P>GERMANY: Aviation & Tourism International, PO Box 1330, Wasserloser Strasse 3A, D9755 Alzenau, Germany, Tel: (49) 60233 0024/25, Fax: (49) 60234105 <P>HONG KONG: Jetway Express, 1 York Road, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong, Tel: (852) 336 6916, Fax: (852) 336 6865 <P>ITALY: Aviation & Tourism International, 6 Viale Montenero, 20135 Milano, ITALY, Tel: (39) 2 5518 0528, Fax: (39) 5519 0439 <P>NOUMEA: 14 Rue De Verdun, Immeuble Journot CCI, BP 336 Noumea, New Caledonia, Tel: (678) 28 66 77, or Fax: (678) 27 40 50 <P>NADI: Nadi Airport, Fiji, Tel: (679) 722521 <P>SUVA: Fiji Air Ltd, 219 Victoria Parade, Suva Fiji, Tel: (679) 314666 <P>SINGAPORE: Travel Bug, 50 Cuscanden Road, Singapore 1024, Tel: (65) 235 7808, Fax: (65) 235 5266 <P>SPAIN: Aviation & Tourism International, c/o Lorenzana, 186 la, 11800 OLOT (Gerona), Spain, Tel: (34)12 27 02 62, Fax: (34) 72 27 0139 <P>UK: Island Representation Ltd 41/45, Goswell Road, London, ECIV 7EH, UK Tel: (0171) 253 9000, Fax: (0171) 336 l001 <P>USA: Air Promotions Systems, 660/5151 West Century Boulevard, Los Angeles, USA, Tel: (310) 670 1320, or (0800) 611 4271, Fax: (310) 338 0108 <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"> <I>We have been able to publish the present tourist information on Vanuatu thanks to the co-operation of the National Tourism Office in Port Vila. <!-- End of article --> <P> <CENTER><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="4"></CENTER> <P> <CENTER><A HREF=#TOP><IMG SRC="Countrypics/WhiteTopbut.gif" BORDER="0" hspace="5"></A> <A HREF="../../../watanetwork/NTOs/Countrieslist/"><IMG SRC="Countrypics/WhiteNTObut.gif" BORDER="0" hspace="5"></A></CENTER> </TD> </TR> </TABLE> </BODY> </HTML>