Introduction Vanuatu, a Melanesian archipelago of 83 islands and more than 100 languages, has a land mass of 12,189 km2.  According to the 2009 national census, the urban population accounted for 24.4% of the total population. The urban migration is increasing at an alarming rate, particularly from rural islands to Port Vila and Luganville, as people seek employment or education.  While most of the population are employed in subsistence agriculture, the rest are in government departments, private companies and other employment sectors. (Source:  World Health Organisation:  http://www.who.int/countries/vut/en/)

Population Population: 234,023 (2009)
Population growth rate: 2.3%
Life expectancy: 69 years

Geography Vanuatu lies in the heart of Melanesia, with Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands to the north, Fiji to the east and New Caledonia to the southeast.

Vanuatu is in a geographic zone at high risk for natural disasters as the country is in an earthquake zone.  Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis and cyclones are the main culprits damaging the country. Most of the islands of Vanuatu are mountainous and of volcanic origin, and have tropical or subtropical climates. There are several active volcanoes, including several under water. Volcanic activity is common, with the ever-present danger of a major eruption.

Religion Presbyterian 28%, Anglican 15%, Others 13%, SDA 12%, Catholic 12%, Assemblies of God 5%, Church of Christ 5%, Customary beliefs 4%, Neil Thomas Ministry 3%, Apostolic 2%, No religion 1%.  (2009 Census)

Government Government type: Republic

Chief of State:  President Lolu Abil (since 2 September 2009)
Head of Government:  Prime Minister Sato Kilman (since December 2010)
Cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the Prime Minister from among the members of parliament
The President is elected for a five-year term by a two-thirds majority in the Electoral College
(For more information visit the World Leaders website.)

Elections: The Prime Minister is elected by Parliament for a four-year term. Election last held in 2008.

Economics GDP (purchasing power parity) US$647.95 Million

Vanuatu's economy is based primarily on subsistence or small-scale agriculture, which provides a living for 76% of the population.  Fishing, offshore financial services, and tourism, with nearly 197,000 visitors in 2008, are other mainstays of the economy. Mineral deposits are negligible; the country has no known petroleum deposits. A small light industry sector caters to the local market. Tax revenues come mainly from import duties. 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. In mid-2002, the government 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. Australia and New Zealand are the main suppliers of tourists and foreign aid. (Source: The World Factbook)

Health Malaria is the major public health problem in the country, other communicable disease concerns being tuberculosis; sexually transmitted infections; acute respiratory tract infections, including pneumonia; diarrhoeal diseases; viral hepatitis; typhoid fever; and measles.

Millennium Development Goals indicators.  Life expectancy at birth for males is 68 and females 70 years (2009). Total expenditure on health per capita $139 USD.  Total expenditure on health as a percentage of GDP is 4.2% (2006) Source: World Health Organisation.

Since 2002, five people living in Vanuatu have been diagnosed with HIV (3 females and 2 males; 4 adults and 1 child under 15 years). All required HIV off-shore. During the reporting period January 2008 to December 2009, there have been no new confirmed cases of HIV. The last diagnosis of HIV was in 2007 (Source:  UNAIDS.)

Legislation http://www.paclii.org/databases.html#VU

Related Websites The World Factbook - Vanuatu
UNICEF - Vanuatu
World Health Organization - Vanuatu