Port Vila Commonwealth Walkway

Vanuatu / The Pacific

VANUATU Vanuatu is composed of 13 main islands and other smaller ones.  It was first inhabited by indigenous Melanesians, also called ni-Vanuatu.  Europeans first visited the island in 1606.  A Spanish expedition led by Fernandes de Queirós arrived on the largest island, Espíritu Santo. Queirós claimed the island as part of Spain’s colony and named it La Australia del Espíritu Santo. In the 1880s, the UK and France then claimed other parts of Vanuatu, then called the New Hebrides.  Finally, an independence movement arose in the 1970s, and the Republic of Vanuatu was founded on 30 July 1980.  Since then, Vanuatu has been a member of both the UN and the Commonwealth.  The name Vanuatu means ‘Our Land Forever’ in many of the locally used Melanesian languages.  The majority of the ni-Vanuatu population are agriculturalists, who live in small rural villages where activities revolve around the island.  Furthermore, since Independence, Vanuatu’s tourism and offshore financial services have emerged as the largest earners of foreign income.  Yet despite being dependent on tourism for its economy, Vanuatu is one of the world’s least-visited countries.  Around 95,000 people visit each year.  It has been considered one of the countries in the world most prone to natural disaster, and cannibalism was practised here until relatively recently. Capital Port Vila is the capital and largest city of Vanuatu.  It is situated on the island of Efate.  Set around Vila Bay and a series of lagoons, beaches and offshore islands, it is a surprisingly small but energetic town.  Although the town is French in appearance, the population is multinational, including ni-Vanuatu, British, French, Chinese, and Vietnamese.  This is the liveliest town in Vanuatu and offers many opportunities for adventure activities, restaurants, bars and markets. Fun Facts 
  • Vanuatu invented bungee jumping.
  • The Yaohnanen tribe on Tanna island, one of the islands, have worshipped Prince Philip since the 1950s or 1960s, his status being strengthened after his visit to the island with The Queen in 1974.  He has sent them signed photographs of himself.  A reporter once visited the tribe and wrote: ‘A signed portrait of Prince Philip is an incongruous sight in a South Pacific jungle.’ 
  • Lap-lap is considered by many the national dish of Vanuatu.  It is baked in banana leaves.

1.9 miles / 3 kilometres

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