The Republic of Vanuatu
Vanuatu Vatu (VUV)
VUT (UTC +11)
Vanuatu consists of 83 islands located about 800 kms west of Fiji and 2,250kms northeast of Sydney. Until the explorers and missionaries arrived around the 15th century, Vanuatu had been home to Melanesians for over 3,500 years. It now has a Westminster parliamentary style of democracy since its independence on 30th July 1980, after more than 70 years of rule by Great Britain and France. Its original name given by Capt James Cook in 1774 was New Hebrides and the legal system is based on British law. The population is 95% indigenous “Ni-Vanuatu” of Melanesian descent.
Vanuatu for many years already has been a financial centre, without any personal or corporate taxes nor any tax treaties with foreign countries. On all goods and services a Value Added Tax (VAT) is charged at 12.5%.There are exports of copra, manganese, hardwood and beef, whilst Tanna Island is famous for its excellent coffee grown there.
Vanuatu has a tropical climate in most areas with subtropical conditions at some of the most
southern islands.Average temperatures range from 25°C in winter to 29°C in summer; please note the seasons are directly opposite to those in the Northern hemisphere, and Dec – March is also the cyclone season with hot and rainy conditions throughout.
The culture of Vanuatu has been mainly influenced due to colonization by the British and the French. Even though the national language of Vanuatu is Bislama, due to the impact of colonization both English and French languages are also considered as official languages.
In terms of religion, Christianity is still the major religion in Vanuatu and the majority of the Christians adhere to the Presbyterian church in Vanuatu. The culture of Vanuatu is also diverse across different regions and particularly in the central region, Melanesian values also dominate.
There are international scheduled flights between Port Vila and Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands.
Domestic flights also from the Bauerfield Airport are between Vila and the main islands including Espiritu Santo, Tanna, Pentecost, Malekula and Ambrym.
Unfortunately there is no regular public transport system in Vanuatu. Instead there are many mini buses (usually pick-up trucks or vans) especially in Port Vila and Luganville. They are privately owned and can be identified by a red letter "B" which is attached to the number plates. As there are no fixed routes they are simply flagged down on the side of the road, and the driver will determine whether or not your destination is on his route. First passengers are dropped off first. Especially on the other islands you may need to check at the market sites and make arrangements with available trucks marked with a red “T”.
Should you plan day trips, taxis may be a more convenient alternative, though less economical than buses. Always make sure to negotiate the price prior to the journey. This applies mostly to Port Vila where the tourists from large cruise ships will want to see and do things within their few hours of time on land.
Inter-island transportation and cargo movement relies heavily on ferry vessels of different types and sizes. The conditions of most vessels are not of international standard in terms of accommodation and safety.
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