Vanuatu is a South Pacific Ocean nation made up of 80 plus islands in an archipelago that stretches 1,300 kilometers. Multiple waves of colonizers, each speaking a distinct language, migrated to the New Hebrides in the millennia preceding European exploration in the 18th century.
This settlement pattern accounts for the complex linguistic diversity found on the archipelago to this day. The British and French, who settled the New Hebrides in the 19th century, agreed in 1906 to an Anglo-French Condominium, which administered the islands until independence in 1980, when the new name of Vanuatu was adopted.
Languages: local languages (more than 100) 63.2%, Bislama (official; creole) 33.7%, English (official)2%, French (official) 0.6%, other 0.5% (2009 est.).
Religions: Protestant 70% (includes Presbyterian 27.9%, Anglican 15.1%, Seventh Day Adventist 12.5%, Assemblies of God 4.7%, Church of Christ 4.5%, Neil Thomas Ministry 3.1%, and Apostolic 2.2%), Roman Catholic 12.4%, customary beliefs 3.7% (including Jon Frum cargo cult), other 12.6%, none 1.1%, unspecified 0.2% (2009 est.).
Population: 285,784 (April 2016 est.). Population growth rate 1.95%.
Economy: primarily based on small-scale agriculture, which provides a living for about two-thirds of the population. Fishing, offshore financial services, and tourism, with an estimated 111,000 visitors in 2015, are other mainstays of the economy. Australia and New Zealand are the main source of tourists and aid. A small light industry sector caters to the local market. Tax revenues come mainly from import duties and ground rents.
Since 2002, the government has stepped up efforts to boost tourism through improved air connections, resort development, and cruise ship facilities. Agriculture, especially livestock farming is the second target for growth.
The islands offer scuba diving at coral reefs, underwater caverns and wrecks such as the WWII-era troopship SS President Coolidge. Hiking trails ascend active volcanoes such as Mt. Yasur. Other popular activities include rainforest ecotours, kayaking and deep-sea fishing, plus relaxing at resorts and spas.