Vanuatu is a tropical haven with a rich, diverse culture, mixing old and new. If you’re thinking of moving to Vanuatu, here are some key facts you need to know!
If you’re asking yourself why Vanuatu is second on the ‘Happy Planet Index’, these insights into this fascinating country may just provide the answer!
His burial site is a UNESCO world heritage site
This marks first contact with Europeans
He names them the New Hebrides and begins a period of colonisation
By the start of the 20th century, there were more French inhabitants than British
With a newly elected government
Vanuatu is located in the South Pacific Ocean, 800 km west of Fiji and 1770 km east of Australia. This makes it only a 2.5 hour flight from Brisbane and 3.5 hour flight from Sydney. It is an archipelago of 83 inhabited islands. It was previously governed by the French and British and retains influence from both of these countries, in both the language and the food. The predominant national language is Bislama, a form of pidgin English with influences from French. English and French are also official languages. The capital and biggest settlement is Port Vila, located on Efate island. Due to its proximity to the countries, the majority of visitors are from Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia.
Whilst the official languages are Bislama, English and French, Vanuatu has a rich and diverse culture of people speaking 138 indigenous oceanic languages, despite having a population of only around 300,000. Predominantly, the Ni-Vanuatu people are Melanesian with some Polynesian influence. The people are extremely friendly and quite used to tourists and migrants alike. The majority identify as Christian, with a small proportion still observing indigenous beliefs. The people are friendly and happy, as evidenced by their coming second on the Happy Planet Index, a measure of sustainable well being. Vanuatu is excellent at delivering long and happy lives using limited environmental resources.
Vanuatu has a beautifully clement climate, which is tropical but not excessively hot. The warm season is between November and February with the cooler season between April and September. Temperatures vary only slightly however, always remaining between 18-35 °C. The weather lends itself perfectly to the growth of the tropical rainforests which cover the islands. It is also a volcanic region, making it fantastic hiking territory, covered with waterfalls. The clear blue waters surrounding the islands averages around 20°C, making it perfect for swimming, diving, snorkelling and water sports.
With its mix of friendly people, warm balmy weather and lush tropical foliage, Vanuatu is one of the last undiscovered wonders of the world. The French influence is evident in the many patisseries and fine dining options dotted around the main island of Efate. The sea life and untouched beaches make it one of the best scuba diving destinations for even the most avid traveller. Market stalls selling fresh organic produce are in abundance, as is the opportunity to purchase imported goods from the larger supermarkets that have opened over the last decade. Internet access is some of the fastest available anywhere which is why the capital Port Vila has become a hub for online gaming and other tech businesses. With zero personal and corporate income tax, it offers many benefits for its residents. Vanuatu is not only a beautiful place to live, but also a practical one.
As well as the abundance of fresh and delicious seafood, Vanuatu also produces fantastic meat and is the biggest and best beef exporter in the pacific. As with any tropical country, the fresh fruit is impeccable and abundant and coconut is a common flavour in traditional dishes. Vanuatu has a fantastically diverse food scene, combining European influences, especially French, with traditional Melanesian dishes. Lap Lap, the national dish is an excellent exemplar of traditional food. It is a mixture of grated root vegetables and banana, mixed with coconut milk and salt which is wrapped up in banana leaves and baked under hot volcanic stones, in the traditional cooking method. All tastes can be catered for, as well as new ones discovered!
The Port Vila International School and the Lycee Francais Port Vila Villa both offer international standard education and are well located. The Emalus Campus of the University of the South Pacific is also less than ten minutes drive from the centre of Port Vila Villa and offers tertiary study opportunities. Excellent internet infrastructure has meant that Port Vila Villa has become a hub for online workers and tech businesses. There is also no personal or corporate income tax, making it an ideal location for those looking to begin online businesses.
Vanuatu is part of the commonwealth. This means that it has a relatively ‘strong’ passport, allowing the holder access to over 100 countries, visa-free. Vanuatu citizens can travel to any country in the Schengen area for example and stay for 90 days.