Vanuatu consists of 82 small islands of relatively new geological origin. Only 65 of the islands are inhabited, and there is about 1300km north to south distance between the outermost islands. The largest island is Espiritu Santo, followed by Malakula and Efate. The largest towns are the capital Port Vila, on Efate, and Luganville, on Espiritu Santo. The highest point in Vanuatu is Mt Tabwemasana at 1879m on Espiritu Santo. There are several active volcanoes in Vanuatu, as well as several underwater ones. Volcanic activity is common. Vanuatu's total area is roughly 12,274 square km of which its land base is very limited (roughly 4,700 square km) most of the islands are steep, with unstable soils, and little permanent freshwater. Most of the people live in rural areas and practice subsistence agriculture, the other main source of income to the islanders is eco-tourism. The total population of the country is just 206,000 people.
Electric Supply and Plugs
Electrical sockets in the Republic of Vanuatu are the "Type I" Australian AS-3112 type and the electricity supply is 220-230 volts, AC.
Vanuatu is GMT + 11 hours.
Vanuatu has three official languages, English, French and Bislama, a Creole language evolved from English. Bislama is the first language of many urban ni-Vanuatu, that is, the residents of Port Vila and Luganville. It is the most common second language elsewhere in the Vanuatu Islands. It is similar to Tok Pisin of Papua New Guinea. In addition there are over 100 local languages spread over the archipelago. Vanuatu is considered to be the country with the highest density of languages per capita in the world, with about 2000 speakers for each indigenous language. Any attempt to speak the local language is usually warmly appreciated and is all part of the fun of adventure travel.
Vanuatu's climate varies from wet tropical in the north (over 4000mm of rainfall a year) to subtropical in the south (less than 2000mm), with dry rain-shadow areas in between. The dry season runs from May to October with sunny days and pleasantly cool evenings. Despite this, it's advisable to take some warm clothing year-round. November to April is the wet season, with higher temperatures, heavier rains, and mosquitoes. December to March is cyclone time. Vanuatu averages 2.5 cyclones a year. Temperatures in Luganville and Port Vila range from 27°C in July to 30°C in January. Lenakel (on Tanna) is a degree or two cooler. Winter nights in Vila can drop to below 12°C.
The unit of currency in Vanuatu is the Vatu (Vt). For up to date exchange rates visit: www.xe.com
There are limited numbers of ATMs in Vanuatu, and there are mostly situated in Port Vila and Lunganville. Your money should be carried in the form of cash. Sterling and US dollars are easily exchanged, but note that it can be difficult to exchange travellers cheques, and commission payments are often very high). Credit cards can be used to purchase goods and it is a good idea to carry one in case of emergencies.
Citizens from all Commonwealth countries, European Economic Community member countries, the U.S, Canada, and UK and Ireland, as well as many other countries do not require a visa to visit Vanuatu. However, all visitors must hold a passport that has at least 6 months validity beyond your intended stay. You may be required to show immigration officials that you have return or onward tickets and adequate means of support and accommodation upon entering Vanuatu. Tourists are granted a 30 day stay on arrival and this can be extended on a monthly basis for up to 4 months.
You should attend your own doctor and dentist for a check-up. Your doctor will have access to the most up to date information on the required vaccinations for the country you are visiting. In general we recommend vaccinations against the following: Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis 'A'. Anti-malarial prophylaxis are required for this trip.
A very good online resource is fit for travel: www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk
Additional Sources of Information
Vanuatu and New Caledonia. Lonely Planet
Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu. J Maarten Troost
Vanuatu - Country Maps