Melanesian people were the first to inhabit this island nation. In the year 1605, a Spanish expedition was led by a Portuguese navigator Fernandes de Queiros, he discovered Espiritu Santo and claimed this archipelago for Spain and named it Espiritu Santo or Holy Spirit. France and United Kingdom claimed parts of the country in 1880, but in 1906 they came to a solution by jointly managing the administration of this archipelago as the ‘New Hebrides’ through a British-French Condominium (Joint Sovereignty). However, in the year 1970, an independence movement arose among the people and by the year 1980 Republic of Vanuatu was formed.
The climatic conditions vary throughout the country. The northern region has a wet tropical climate, the southern region of the country experiences subtropical climate and central regions are usually dry. The summers in Vanuatu are from the months of November to March with an average temperature of 28°C. Summers are usually wet, hot and humid. Winters start from the month of April and last until September with an average temperature of 23°C. Rainfall usually occurs every month. Rainfall usually occurs in the summer months, mostly from December to April and these months are the hottest and wettest. The southern regions of Vanuatu receive comparatively less rainfall than the other regions of the country and are usually less humid too. Average rainfall in the country is about 2,360 mm in a year and in the northern regions of the island it can be as high as 4,000 mm. The summer months are also a part of the tropical cyclone season.
English, French and Bislama are the three official languages of Vanuatu. Bislama is a creole language evolved from English. It is the first language of majority of the urban people, especially the inhabitants of Port Vila and Luganville. And it is also the second most common language spoken in the Vanuatu Islands. Vanuatu has the highest diversity of languages per capita in the world with over one hundred languages spread across the island. Over the years, many languages have become extinct and some of the languages are endangered as there are only a handful of speakers left. Many languages in Vanuatu are named after the islands they are spoken on, whereas the larger islands have various different languages. Over two dozen languages are used on Espiritu Santo and Malakula Islands. All the languages used in Vanuatu are Oceanic. There are also three Polynesian languages spoken in Vanuatu, which belong to the Futunic Subgroup: Emae, Mele-Fila and Futuna-Aniwa.
Agriculture, raising cattle, financial services and tourism are the four mainstays of the economy. The agriculture products are used for consumption as well for export. 80% of the total population is engaged in agricultural activities. The production of kava and copra generate a lot of revenue. The major exports of the country include beef, copra, kava and timber. The tropical climate of Vanuatu helps the growth of many fruits and vegetables that include garlic, cabbage, pineapples, sugarcane, taro, yams, watermelons, carrots, eggplants, peanuts, banana, vanilla and cucumber. These important crops are consumed as well as exported. Tourism in the country is growing over the years with the help of promotion and for tourists there is market area for traditional handicrafts, like woven baskets, woodcarvings, jewellery and mats. Tourism brings in much needed currency exchange as well. Raising cattle is important as well as it leads to beef production for export. The cattle in the country is considered to be the ‘most important livestock’, as they are important for agriculture as well as for ceremonies. Vanuatu is a tax haven as it earns income from company registrations and fees and also on offshore shipping registry.
The Vanuatu education system has six levels of education; preschool (ages 3–5), primary (ages 6–12), junior secondary (ages 13–16), senior secondary (ages 17–20), technical education (ages 13–18) and tertiary education (ages 19 and beyond). Theoretically, Primary and Secondary education in free and compulsory, but education is not in practice. School attendance in Vanuatu is the lowest in the Pacific. Practically, the primary and secondary schools charges fees for tuition, boarding, textbooks and other materials. The factor that affects the rate of attendance is the poor quality schooling, health issues and rural isolation. There are many concerns regarding the teaching outcomes as majority of the teachers are not qualified or they remain absent. Despite high expenditure of education, many rural schools lack basic teaching equipments, facilities, materials and the infrastructure is poor as well. The language of instruction in school depends on which island it is being delivered. An average of 20% to 25% only complete primary schooling and go to secondary levels.