Your guide to being an expatriate in Vanuatu

Caffeinate Your Vanuatu Expat Journey: Find Essential Info and Connect with Expatriates Today!

Vanuatu, officially the Republic of Vanuatu, is a Melanesian island nation located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Its 83 islands are spread over a vast expanse of water, with approximately 65 of them inhabited. The country achieved independence from both the United Kingdom and France in 1980. Its economy is based on agriculture, forestry, and fishing, while its diverse population speaks over 110 distinct languages and follows various religions.


Expat destinations in Vanuatu

Demographics of Vanuatu:

Ethnic groups

The population of Vanuatu is predominantly Melanesian, with smaller communities of Europids, Polynesians, and Micronesians. Major ethnic groups include Bislama, Malakula, Santo, and Gaua.


The official language is Bislama, an English-based creole, while Melanesian languages such as Bislama, Malakula, and Santo are also widely spoken.

Religion Overview

Vanuatu is primarily Christian, with various denominations including Roman Catholicism, Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Seventh-day Adventist. According to the recent census (2016), 64.2% identified as Roman Catholic, while 17.2% identified as Protestant/Evangelical Christian. Approximately 14.5% follow indigenous animist beliefs and practices.

Major Religions


Vanuatu has a tropical climate, characterized by high temperatures and humidity. The average annual temperature is around 25°C (77°F). The climate is primarily defined by wet and dry seasons, with wet seasons between November to April, and drier seasons between May to October.

Economy Overview

The primary sectors that drive the economy of Vanuatu are agriculture, forestry, and fishing. The government aims to stimulate economic growth by improving infrastructure, increasing private sector participation in industry, and promoting renewable energy. Vanuatu is also a member of the Pacific Islands Forum, which aims to foster economic cooperation and development across the Pacific region.

Key Industries

  • Agriculture: Production of coconuts, kava, and cocoa, as well as subsistence farming.
  • Forestry: Vanuatu has the largest remaining primary forests in the Pacific region, and timber production is an important sector.
  • Fishing: Tuna fishing is a major economic activity, operating out of ports on Santo and Malekula.

Major Companies

  • Qantas Airways Limited: A passenger airline that provides international and domestic air services to and from Vanuatu.
  • Air Vanuatu: A national airline that operates domestic and international flights.

Culture and Language Overview

Vanuatu has a rich cultural heritage, characterized by diverse traditional practices, music, dance, and art forms. Major festivals include Rambutal, which celebrates fertility, and Coconut Day, a national holiday that commemorates the contributions of coconuts to the economy and culture of Vanuatu. Torba masks, carved wooden sculptures, and decorative bark cloth are notable art forms.

Cultural Highlights

  • Music and Dance: Traditional music and dance characterize cultural expressions in Vanuatu. Music often consists of rhythms produced by percussion instruments, accompanied by dress and dancing
  • Art: Torba masks and decorative bark cloth are notable art forms that represent cultural heritage. Basket weaving and wood carving are also popular forms of creative expression
  • Festivals: Rambutal, celebrated annually in May, is a fertility festival that reflects the traditional Melanesian belief that hibiscus flowers ensure fertility

Geography and Landmarks Overview

Vanuatu is an archipelago that comprises around 83 islands scattered across the Pacific Ocean. The terrain consists largely of rugged mountainous interiors with narrow coastal plains. The highest point in Vanuatu is Mount Tabwemasana, a dormant volcano located in the southern island of Tanna, standing at an elevation of 1,945 metres (6,381 ft).

Notable Landmarks

  • Millennium Cave: A limestone cave in the Port Sandwich region on the island of Malekula that features ancient rock art depicting human and animal figures
  • Champagnes Pools: Located on Pentecost Island, this scenic spot is an open sea lagoon created by geological formations that resemble champagne glasses
  • Port Resolution: A harbor situated on the southeastern coast of Tanna Island, known for its pristine beaches and mangroves

National Holidays

  • New Year's Day (January 1)
  • Liberation Day (July 30)
  • Constitution Day (July 1)
  • Independence Day (July 30)
  • Good Friday
  • Christmas Day (December 25)
  • Boxing Day (December 26)

Political Stability

Vanuatu is a presidential representative democratic nation, with its President as both head of state and government. Squabbles within the government, corruption, and recurrent leadership challenges pose some threats to political stability, alongside occasional social, and economic instability.

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