Vanuatu

An archipelago of 82 islands and islets in the South Pacific, Vanuatu was ruled jointly by the UK and France from 1906 until independence in 1980. Politics is democratic but volatile.


Geography:

Mountainous and volcanic, with coral beaches and dense rainforest. 

Cultivated land along the coasts.

Climate:

Tropical. 

Temperatures and rainfall decline from north to south.

People & Society:

Indigenous Melanesians form a majority. 

Ni-Vanuatu culture is traditional; local social and religious customs are strong, despite centuries of missionary influence. 

Subsistence farming and fishing are the main activities. 

80% of the population lives on the 12 main islands. 

Women have lower social status than men and payment of bride-price is common. 

Economy:

Reliant on aid. 

Main export is copra; diversifying into beef, timber, kava. 

Tourism. 

Offshore banking: rules tightened after international pressure.

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