A higher-resolution view of the previous Vanuatu Archipelago image showing the two active volcanoes of Gaua and Ambrym. Vanuatu's two major islands of Espiritu Santo (top) and Malakula (bottom) appear in the center of the image. Photo courtesy of NASA.
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Vanuatu was first settled around 2000 B.C. by Austronesian speakers from Solomon Islands. By around 1000, localized chieftain systems began to develop on the islands. In the mid-1400s, the Kuwae Volcano erupted, causing frequent conflict and internal strife amid declining food availability, especially on Efate Island. Around 1600, Chief ROI MATA united Efate under his rule. In 1606, Portuguese explorer Pedro Fernandes de QUEIROS was the first European to see the Banks Islands and Espiritu Santo, setting up a short-lived settlement on the latter. The next European explorers arrived in the 1760s, and in 1774, British navigator James COOK named the islands the New Hebrides. The islands were frequented by whalers in the 1800s and interest in harvesting the islands’ sandalwood trees caused conflict between Europeans and local Ni-Vanuatu. Catholic and Protestant missionaries arrived in the 1840s but faced difficulties converting the locals. In the 1860s, European planters in Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, and Samoa needed labor and kidnapped almost half the adult males of the islands and forced them to work as indentured servants.

With growing and overlapping interests in the islands, France and the UK agreed that the New Hebrides would be neutral in 1878 and established a joint naval commission in 1887. In 1906, the two countries created the British-French Condominium to jointly administer the islands and they established separate laws, police forces, currencies, and education and health systems. The condominium arrangement was dysfunctional and the UK used France’s defeat to Germany in World War II to assert greater control over the islands. As Japan pushed into Melanesia, the US stationed up to 50,000 soldiers in Vanuatu to prevent further advances. In 1945, US troops withdrew and sold their equipment, leading to the rise of political and religious cargo cults, such as the John Frum movement.

The France-UK condominium was reestablished after World War II. The UK was interested in moving the condominium toward independence in the 1960s, but France was hesitant and political parties agitating independence began to form, largely divided along linguistic lines. France eventually relented and elections were held in 1974 with independence granted in 1980 as Vanuatu under English-speaking Prime Minister Walter LINI. At independence, the Nagriamel Movement, with support from French-speaking landowners, declared Espiritu Santo independent, but the short-lived state was dissolved 12 weeks later. Linguistic divisions have lessened over time but highly fractious political parties have led to weak coalition governments that require support from both Anglophone and Francophone parties. Since 2008, prime ministers have been ousted through no-confidence motions or temporary procedural issues 10 times.

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Oceania, group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to Australia

Geographic coordinates

16 00 S, 167 00 E


total: 12,189 sq km

land: 12,189 sq km

water: 0 sq km

note: includes more than 80 islands, about 65 of which are inhabited

country comparison to the world: 162

Area - comparative

slightly larger than Connecticut

Land boundaries

total: 0 km


2,528 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin

measured from claimed archipelagic baselines


tropical; moderated by southeast trade winds from May to October; moderate rainfall from November to April; may be affected by cyclones from December to April


mostly mountainous islands of volcanic origin; narrow coastal plains


highest point: Tabwemasana 1,877 m

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m

Natural resources

manganese, hardwood forests, fish

Land use

agricultural land: 15.3% (2018 est.)

arable land: 1.6% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 10.3% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 3.4% (2018 est.)

forest: 36.1% (2018 est.)

other: 48.6% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

0 sq km (2022)

Population distribution

three-quarters of the population lives in rural areas; the urban populace lives primarily in two cities, Port-Vila and Lugenville; three largest islands - Espiritu Santo, Malakula, and Efate - accomodate over half of the populace

Natural hazards

tropical cyclones (January to April); volcanic eruption on Aoba (Ambae) island began on 27 November 2005, volcanism also causes minor earthquakes; tsunamis

volcanism: significant volcanic activity with multiple eruptions in recent years; Yasur (361 m), one of the world's most active volcanoes, has experienced continuous activity in recent centuries; other historically active volcanoes include Aoba, Ambrym, Epi, Gaua, Kuwae, Lopevi, Suretamatai, and Traitor's Head

Geography - note

a Y-shaped chain of four main islands and 80 smaller islands; several of the islands have active volcanoes and there are several underwater volcanoes as well

People and Society


noun: Ni-Vanuatu (singular and plural)

adjective: Ni-Vanuatu

Ethnic groups

Melanesian 99.2%, non-Melanesian 0.8% (2016 est.)


local languages (more than 100) 63.2%, Bislama (official; creole) 33.7%, English (official) 2%, French (official) 0.6%, other 0.5% (2009 est.)


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.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 33.65% (male 51,267/female 49,111)

15-24 years: 19.99% (male 29,594/female 30,050)

25-54 years: 36.09% (male 52,529/female 55,130)

55-64 years: 5.89% (male 8,666/female 8,904)

65 years and over: 4.39% (male 6,518/female 6,564) (2020 est.)

2022 population pyramid
2022 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 76.5

youth dependency ratio: 69.9

elderly dependency ratio: 12.3

potential support ratio: 15.2 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 23 years

male: 22.6 years

female: 23.5 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 179

Birth rate

21.57 births/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 61

Death rate

3.98 deaths/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 214

Net migration rate

-1.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 152

Population distribution

three-quarters of the population lives in rural areas; the urban populace lives primarily in two cities, Port-Vila and Lugenville; three largest islands - Espiritu Santo, Malakula, and Efate - accomodate over half of the populace


urban population: 26% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 2.55% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

53,000 PORT-VILA (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 0.98 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.95 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.91 male(s)/female

total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2022 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

72 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 82

Infant mortality rate

total: 14.34 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 15.76 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 12.86 deaths/1,000 live births (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 105

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 75.14 years

male: 73.45 years

female: 76.91 years (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 129

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 89.7% of population

total: 92.3% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 10.3% of population

total: 7.7% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

3.4% of GDP (2019)

Physicians density

0.17 physicians/1,000 population (2016)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 91.1% of population

rural: 60.4% of population

total: 68.2% of population

unimproved: urban: 8.9% of population

rural: 39.6% of population

total: 31.8% of population (2020 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea

vectorborne diseases: malaria

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 1.6 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 0.34 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0.39 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 0.87 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 136

Tobacco use

total: 17.8% (2020 est.)

male: 33% (2020 est.)

female: 2.6% (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 94


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 87.5%

male: 88.3%

female: 86.7% (2018)

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 12.3%

male: 10.3%

female: 14.4% (2019 est.)


Environment - current issues

population growth; water pollution, most of the population does not have access to a reliable supply of potable water; inadequate sanitation; deforestation

Environment - international agreements

party to: Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping-London Convention, Marine Dumping-London Protocol, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 10.31 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 0.15 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 0.5 megatons (2020 est.)


tropical; moderated by southeast trade winds from May to October; moderate rainfall from November to April; may be affected by cyclones from December to April

Land use

agricultural land: 15.3% (2018 est.)

arable land: 1.6% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 10.3% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 3.4% (2018 est.)

forest: 36.1% (2018 est.)

other: 48.6% (2018 est.)


urban population: 26% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 2.55% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Revenue from coal

coal revenues: 0% of GDP (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 185

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea

vectorborne diseases: malaria

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 70,225 tons (2012 est.)

municipal solid waste recycled annually: 25,983 tons (2013 est.)

percent of municipal solid waste recycled: 37% (2013 est.)

Total renewable water resources

10 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Vanuatu

conventional short form: Vanuatu

local long form: Ripablik blong Vanuatu

local short form: Vanuatu

former: New Hebrides

etymology: derived from the words "vanua" (home or land) and "tu" (stand) that occur in several of the Austonesian languages spoken on the islands and which provide a meaning of "the land remains" but which also convey a sense of "independence" or "our land"

Government type

parliamentary republic


name: Port-Vila (on Efate)

geographic coordinates: 17 44 S, 168 19 E

time difference: UTC+11 (16 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: there are two possibilities for the origin of the name: early European settlers were Portuguese and "vila" means "village or town" in Portuguese, hence "Port-Vila" would mean "Port Town"; alternatively, the site of the capital is referred to as "Efil" or "Ifira" in native languages, "Vila" is a likely corruption of these names

Administrative divisions

6 provinces; Malampa, Penama, Sanma, Shefa, Tafea, Torba


30 July 1980 (from France and the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 30 July (1980)


history: draft completed August 1979, finalized by constitution conference 19 September 1979, ratified by French and British Governments 23 October 1979, effective 30 July 1980 at independence

amendments: proposed by the prime minister or by the Parliament membership; passage requires at least two-thirds majority vote by Parliament in special session with at least three fourths of the membership; passage of amendments affecting the national and official languages, or the electoral and parliamentary system also requires approval in a referendum; amended several times, last in 2013

Legal system

mixed legal system of English common law, French law, and customary law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: both parents must be citizens of Vanuatu; in the case of only one parent, it must be the father who is a citizen

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 10 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Nikenike VUROBARAVU (since 23 July 2022)

head of government: Prime Minister Ishmael KALSAKAU (since 4 November 2022)

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister, responsible to Parliament

elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by an electoral college consisting of Parliament and presidents of the 6 provinces; Vanuatu president serves a 5-year term; election last held on 23 July 2022 (next to be held in 2027); following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition usually elected prime minister by Parliament from among its members; election for prime minister last held on 20 April 2020 (next to be held following general elections in 2024)

election results: Nikenike VUROBARAVU elected president in the eighth round on 23 July 2022 with 48 votes;
Ishmael KALSAKAU (UMP) elected prime minister on 4 November 2022 with 50 votes

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Parliament (52 seats; members directly elected in 8 single-seat and 9 multi-seat constituencies by single non-transferable vote to serve 4-year terms (candidates in multi-seat constituencies can be elected with only 4% of the vote)

elections: last held on 13 October 2022 (next to be held in 2026)

election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UMP 7, VP 7, LPV 5, RMC 5, GJP 4, NUP 4, RDP 4, IG 3, PPP 2, VNDP 2, NAG 1, VLM 1, other 6, independent 1; composition - men 51, women 1; percent of women 2%; note - political party associations are fluid

note: the National Council of Chiefs advises on matters of culture and language

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Court of Appeal (consists of 2 or more judges of the Supreme Court designated by the chief justice); Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice and 6 puisne judges - 3 local and 3 expatriate)

judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court chief justice appointed by the president after consultation with the prime minister and the leader of the opposition; other judges appointed by the president on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission, a 4-member advisory body; judges serve until the age of retirement

subordinate courts: Magistrates Courts; Island Courts

Political parties and leaders

Green Confederation or GC [Moana CARCASSES Kalosil]
Iauko Group or IG [Tony NARI]
Land and Justice Party (Graon mo Jastis Pati) or GJP [Ralph REGENVANU]
Melanesian Progressive Party or MPP [Barak SOPE]
Nagriamel Movement or NAG [Frankie STEVENS]
Natatok Indigenous People's Democratic Party or NATATOK or NIPDP [Alfred Roland CARLOT]
National United Party or NUP [Ham LINI]
People's Progressive Party or PPP [Sato KILMAN]
People's Service Party or PSP [Don KEN]
Reunification of Movement for Change or RMC [Charlot SALWAI]
Rural Development Party or RDP [Jay NGWELE, spokesman]
Union of Moderate Parties or UMP [Alatoi Ishmael KALSAKAU]
Vanua'aku Pati (Our Land Party) or VP [Bob LOUGHMAN]
Vanuatu Democratic Party [Maxime Carlot KORMAN]
Vanuatu First or Vanuatu [Russel NARI]
Vanuatu Liberal Democratic Party or VLDP [Tapangararua WILLIE]
Vanuatu Liberal Movement or VLM [Gaetan PIKIOUNE]
Vanuatu National Development Party or VNDP [Robert Bohn SIKOL]
Vanuatu National Party or VNP [Issac HAMARILIU]
Vanuatu Republican Party or VRP [Marcellino PIPITE]

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Odo TEVI (since 8 September 2014)
note - also Permanent Representative to the UN

telephone: [1] (212) 661-4303

FAX: [1] (212) 422-3427

email address and website: email - vanunmis@aol.com
web address - https://www.un.int/vanuatu/

embassy: 800 Second Avenue, Suite 400B, New York, NY 10017

note - the Vanuatu Permanent Mission to the UN serves as the embassy

Diplomatic representation from the US

embassy: the US does not have an embassy in Vanuatu; the US Ambassador to Papua New Guinea is accredited to Vanuatu

Flag description

two equal horizontal bands of red (top) and green with a black isosceles triangle (based on the hoist side) all separated by a black-edged yellow stripe in the shape of a horizontal Y (the two points of the Y face the hoist side and enclose the triangle); centered in the triangle is a boar's tusk encircling two crossed namele fern fronds, all in yellow; red represents the blood of boars and men, as well as unity, green the richness of the islands, and black the ni-Vanuatu people; the yellow Y-shape - which reflects the pattern of the islands in the Pacific Ocean - symbolizes the light of the Gospel spreading through the islands; the boar's tusk is a symbol of prosperity frequently worn as a pendant on the islands; the fern fronds represent peace

note: one of several flags where a prominent component of the design reflects the shape of the country; other such flags are those of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, and Eritrea

National symbol(s)

boar's tusk with crossed fern fronds; national colors: red, black, green, yellow

National anthem

name: "Yumi, Yumi, Yumi" (We, We, We)

lyrics/music: Francois Vincent AYSSAV

note: adopted 1980; the anthem is written in Bislama, a Creole language that mixes Pidgin English and French

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 1 (cultural)

selected World Heritage Site locales: Chief Roi Mata’s Domain


Economic overview

This South Pacific island economy is based primarily on small-scale agriculture, which provides a living for about two thirds of the population. Fishing, offshore financial services, and tourism, with more than 330,000 visitors in 2017, are other mainstays of the economy. Tourism has struggled after Efate, the most populous and most popular island for tourists, was damaged by Tropical Cyclone Pam in 2015. Ongoing infrastructure difficulties at Port Vila’s Bauerfield Airport have caused air travel disruptions, further hampering tourism numbers. Australia and New Zealand are the main source of tourists and foreign aid. A small light industry sector caters to the local market. Tax revenues come mainly from import duties. Mineral deposits are negligible; the country has no known petroleum deposits.


Economic development is hindered by dependence on relatively few commodity exports, vulnerability to natural disasters, and long distances from main markets and between constituent islands. In response to foreign concerns, the government has promised to tighten regulation of its offshore financial center.


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 a second target for growth.

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$850 million (2020 est.)

$930 million (2019 est.)

$910 million (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 207

Real GDP growth rate

4.2% (2017 est.)

3.5% (2016 est.)

0.2% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 70

Real GDP per capita

$2,800 (2020 est.)

$3,100 (2019 est.)

$3,100 (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 199

GDP (official exchange rate)

$870 million (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 27.3% (2017 est.)

industry: 11.8% (2017 est.)

services: 60.8% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 59.9% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 17.4% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 28.7% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 0% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 42.5% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -48.5% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

coconuts, roots/tubers nes, bananas, vegetables, pork, fruit, milk, beef, groundnuts, cocoa


food and fish freezing, wood processing, meat canning

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 65%

industry: 5%

services: 30% (2000 est.)

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 12.3%

male: 10.3%

female: 14.4% (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 117


revenues: 236.7 million (2017 est.)

expenditures: 244.1 million (2017 est.)

Public debt

48.4% of GDP (2017 est.)

46.1% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 107

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$13 million (2017 est.)

-$37 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 70


$380 million (2019 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$520 million (2018 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

country comparison to the world: 196

Exports - partners

Japan 33%, Thailand 13%, Mauritania 13%, South Korea 11%, China 9%, Fiji 7% (2019)

Exports - commodities

fish and fish products, tug boats, perfume plants, mollusks, cocoa beans (2019)


$460 million (2019 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$460 million (2018 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

country comparison to the world: 202

Imports - partners

China 29%, Australia 18%, New Zealand 11%, Fiji 11%, Taiwan 5%, Thailand 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, fishing ships, delivery trucks, poultry meats, broadcasting equipment (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$395.1 million (31 December 2017 est.)

$267.4 million (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 160

Debt - external

$200.5 million (31 December 2017 est.)

$182.5 million (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 188

Exchange rates

vatu (VUV) per US dollar -

111.015 (2020 est.)

117.035 (2019 est.)

113.005 (2018 est.)

108.99 (2014 est.)

97.07 (2013 est.)


Electricity access

electrification - total population: 61.8% (2018)

electrification - urban areas: 93.7% (2018)

electrification - rural areas: 51.1% (2018)


installed generating capacity: 35,000 kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 62.926 million kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 0 kWh (2020 est.)

imports: 0 kWh (2020 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 5 million kWh (2019 est.)

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 84.5% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 8.2% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 7.4% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)


production: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 0 metric tons (2019 est.)


total petroleum production: 0 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 1,500 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 0 barrels (2021 est.)

Natural gas

production: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

consumption: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

proven reserves: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

225,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 225,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 201


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 3,472 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 1 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 207

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 265,219 (2019)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 88.44 (2019)

country comparison to the world: 180

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: for many years, 2G Global System for Mobile Communications was the primary mobile technology for Vanuatu’s 300,000 people; recent infrastructure projects have improved access technologies, with a transition to 3G and, to a limited degree, to LTE; Vanuatu has also benefited from the ICN1 submarine cable and the launch of the Kacific-1 satellite, both of which have considerably improved access to telecom services in recent years; Vanuatu’s telecom sector is liberalized, with the two prominent mobile operators; while fixed broadband penetration remains low, the incumbent operator is slowly exchanging copper fixed-lines for fiber; a number of ongoing submarine cable developments will also assist in increasing data rates and reduce internet pricing in coming years (2021)

domestic: fixed-line teledensity a bit over 1 per 100 and mobile-cellular just over 80 per 100 (2020)

international: country code - 678; landing points for the ICN1 & ICN2 submarine cables providing connectivity to the Solomon Islands and Fiji; cables helped end-users with Internet bandwidth; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean) (2020)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced a downturn, particularly in mobile device production; progress toward 5G implementation has resumed, as well as upgrades to infrastructure; consumer spending on telecom services has increased due to the surge in demand for capacity and bandwidth; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home is still evident, and the spike in this area has seen growth opportunities for development of new tools and increased services

Broadcast media

1 state-owned TV station; multi-channel pay TV is available; state-owned Radio Vanuatu operates 2 radio stations; 2 privately owned radio broadcasters; programming from multiple international broadcasters is available

Internet users

total: 77,969 (2019 est.)

percent of population: 26% (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 183

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 2,785 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 1 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 194


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 1 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 8

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 374,603 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 1.66 million (2018) mt-km

Airports - with paved runways

total: 3

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2021)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 28

914 to 1,523 m: 7

under 914 m: 21 (2021)


total: 1,070 km (2000)

paved: 256 km (2000)

unpaved: 814 km (2000)

country comparison to the world: 184

Merchant marine

total: 306

by type: bulk carrier 18, container ship 2, general cargo 55, oil tanker 2, other 229 (2021)

country comparison to the world: 53

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Forari Bay, Luganville (Santo, Espiritu Santo), Port-Vila

Military and Security

Military and security forces

no regular military forces; Ministry of Internal Affairs: Vanuatu Police Force (VPF; includes Vanuatu Mobile Force (VMF) and Police Maritime Wing (VPMW)) (2022)

note: the paramilitary Vanuatu Mobile Force also has external security responsibilities

Military - note

the separate British and French police forces were unified in 1980 under Ni-Vanuatu officers as the New Hebrides Constabulary; the force retained some British and French officers as advisors; the Constabulary was subsequently renamed the Vanuatu Police Force later in 1980

the Vanuatu Mobile Force has received training and other support from Australia, China, France, New Zealand, and the US

Vanuatu has a "shiprider" agreement with the US, which allows local maritime law enforcement officers to embark on US Coast Guard (USCG) and US Navy (USN) vessels, including to board and search vessels suspected of violating laws or regulations within Vanuatu's designated exclusive economic zone (EEZ) or on the high seas; "shiprider" agreements also enable USCG personnel and USN vessels with embarked USCG law enforcement personnel to work with host nations to protect critical regional resources (2022)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Vanuatu-France: Matthew and Hunter Islands, two uninhabited islands east of New Caledonia, claimed by Vanuatu and France; in January 2019, a French naval mission landed officers on the islands to reinforce France’s sovereignty; in November 2021, French vessels fishing near the islands raised tensions