A tropical paradise, only three and a half hours from Sydney, Australia, Vanuatu means 'the land that has always existed'. It is made up of 83 islands formed in a Y-shaped archipelago which stretches over some 800 kilometres of the Pacific Ocean, half way between Australia and Hawaii.
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Vanuatu Message Forum
Formerly called the New Hebrides, Vanuatu is a mecca for those who love diving. The waters surrounding these beautiful islands provide some of the most spectacular and varied underwater exploration in the South Pacific and experienced divers come from all over the world to swim amongst the WW2 wrecks which lie scattered over the seabed.
CAPITAL AND MAJOR CENTRES
Although Captain James Cook explored and charted the Vanuatu archipelago in 1774, which he named the New Hebrides, he ignored the island of Efate and thus missed discovering one of the world's most beautiful deep water harbours.
Today Efate offers safe anchorage to those who visit the capital, Port Vila, by boat and there is Bauerfield, the international plane terminal, which is ten minutes from the capital. Thus Port Vila is the gateway to Vanuatu and offers visitors a wealth of tourists' activities.
Free of skyscrapers, the town is set within a magnificent natural harbour where hibiscus dot the surrounding hills and the air is redolent with the scent of frangipani.
A boat trip around Efate and the other island retreats, reveals a place untouched by modern civilisation.
Tanna Island has almost 16,000 people who inhabit 92 villages in a 56,199 square kilometre area. The islanders have remained relatively unchanged by a century and a half of explorers, missionaries and traders.
Pentecost Island is a beautiful unspoilt place, home to a spectacular ritual, the Pentecost Jump.
Espiritu Santo is the largest and oldest island with the largest population and the greatest number of natural sights.
The movie South Pacific was inspired by this island and Bali Hai is named after Ambae located to the east of Espiritu Santo.
Predominantly Melanesian, the people speak English, French and Bislama, a form of pidgin. The Ni Vanuatu have populated these islands for centuries and with more than 105 distinctly different cultures and languages still thriving, Vanuatu is recognised as one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world.
Vanessa is one of Vanuatu's most famous personalities. This teenage singing star has had a most impressive career and continues to go from strength to strength. A popular talented singing artist on three of our four Pacific Islands Radio stations, you are most welcome to view her short biography at the following: http://www.pacificislandsradio.com/profiles/vanessa_quai/index.htm
The first European to visit these shores was Spanish navigator Fernandes de Quiros who landed at Big Bay on Espiritu Santo in 1606. The French explorer, Bougainville, arrived almost 160 years later and in 1774 Captain James Cook charted all the islands and named the archipelago the New Hebrides.
In 1839, missionary John Williams attempted to impose western ways and Christianity on the Ni Vanuatu and was clubbed to death and eaten. The locals had no defences however, against the slave traders, known as blackbirders who shanghaied more than 40,000 people to work on the sugar plantations in Australia.
In the 1860s, British and French interests purchased huge tracts of land for cotton plantations and the Ni Vanuatu retaliated by killing a number of Europeans, only to suffer extensive naval bombardment of their villages. The French and British jointly colonised the islands in 1906.
During WW2 the 250,000 Americans stationed in Vanuatu brought in enormous amounts of cargo which led the Ni Vanuatu to believe that such vast wealth could only have come from the gods. The New Hebrides gained independence in July, 1980 and was renamed Vanuatu.
Vanuatu has rich lush tropical rainforests, volcanoes, sparkling blue lagoons, cascading waterfalls and beaches that range from silky white to volcanic black.
Surrounding the land is a magic sea of aqua and dark blues with a fascinating underwater world of colourful tropical fish that live amongst magnificent coral and reel formation.
Port Villa offers a range of resorts and scenic bus tours, island cruises and flights around the archipelago. Away from the capital you have the opportunity to visit villages, bathe in hot mineral springs and shower beneath sparkling waterfalls.
On Espritu Santo, visit major plantations growing cocoa, coffee and coconuts and explore the world's most accessible liner, the President Coolidge wrecked in Santo Harbour.
New Air Traffic Controllers, Vanuatu
Port Vila Airfreight Terminal's Early Opening