Vanuatu Population and Economy

By | November 25, 2021

Vanuatu [v], officially Bislama Ripablik blong Vanuatu, English Republic of Vanuatu [r ɪ p ʌ bl ɪ k əv vænu ɑ ː tu ː ], French République de Vanuatu [repy Republic də vanya ty], German Republic Vanuatu, island nation in the southwestern Pacific, with (2019) 299,900 residents; The capital is Port Vila.

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Vanuatu includes the archipelago of the New Hebrides (English New Hebrides, French Nouvelles-Hébrides).

Population and Religion

Population

The islands have been inhabited for over 3,000 years (oldest dating: around 1300 BC, Lapita culture [ Oceania ]). The old resident Melanesians (98% of the population) speak over 100 different languages ​​and dialects, they have an independent, regionally strongly differentiated culture (New Hebrides). Often still attached to the traditional tribal association, their life is predominantly rural. Male associations play a special role in the cultural tradition. In addition, Polynesians and Micronesians, Australians, Vietnamese and Chinese as well as several hundred Europeans (mostly French and British) live in Vanuatu. About every fifth Ni-Vanuatu lives in the capital Port Vila or Luganville (on Espiritu Santo), the only two urban settlements. With 23 residents / km2 the population density is very low overall.

Social: While workers have social security, traditional forms of social security play a bigger role than government programs. Basic medical care is not guaranteed in large parts of the country.

Religion

In the preamble, the constitution emphasizes the traditional values ​​of Melanesia and the Christian principles as the foundation of the constitution and guarantees freedom of religion within the framework of its catalog of fundamental rights; all religious communities are legally equal. They are required to register with the state.

Over 80% of the population are Christians. They belong to more than 50% Protestant denominations (especially Presbyterians [27.9% of the population], Adventists [12.5%], Pentecostals [4.7%]; a total of around 20 denominations), still 15.1% of the Population of the Anglican Church (Diocese of Vanuatu, Province of Melanesia) and 12.4% of the Catholic Church (Diocese of Port-Vila, suffragan diocese of the Archdiocese of Nouméa / New Caledonia [France]). Bahais and followers of traditional Melanesian religions (cargo cults) form minorities.

Economy

Business

The majority of the population operates subsistence farming, while export-oriented agriculture and timber, the processing of agricultural products, fishing, the service sector and rapidly growing tourism determine the economic structure of Vanuatu. Important income is also generated from the sale of fishing licenses to foreign fishing companies. The gross national income (GNI) per resident is (2017) US $ 2,920. The economic growth is (2016) at 4.0%. Long-term structural reforms supported by the Asian Development Bank and the opening of the country to foreign investors are intended to create favorable investment conditions. The main development aid donors are Australia, New Zealand and Japan. The destruction caused by cyclone »Pam« in April 2015 meant a serious economic setback and made international aid necessary for reconstruction.

Foreign trade: Vanuatu has a consistently high foreign trade deficit (export value 2016: US $ 53.5 million, import value US $ 308.5 million). The main export products are copra, beef, cocoa, wood and handicrafts. The main imports are food, fuel, machinery and equipment, consumer goods and chemical products. The most important trading partners for export are Ecuador, Australia and Venezuela; when importing Australia, New Zealand, China and France.

Agriculture

Over a quarter of the workforce works in the agricultural sector (including forestry and fisheries); they generate (2014) 28.4% of the gross domestic product (GDP). Jams, taro, cassava, bananas, vegetables and potatoes are grown for personal use, coconuts (copra production), cocoa and coffee are grown for export. Agriculture is concentrated on the narrow coastal strips. However, these areas are repeatedly threatened by flooding due to the rise in sea levels as a result of climate change. Cattle, pigs and goats dominate the livestock sector. Forestry (hardwood plantations) and fishing continue to be important.

Industry

The poorly developed industry generates 9.1% of GDP. The timber industry, the processing of agricultural products and fish processing are important. The products of traditional handicrafts (especially for tourists) are among the best known in the Pacific region.

Service sector

The service sector has a share of 62.7% of GDP (2014). Vanuatu developed into the leading financial center among the island states in the South Pacific in the 1980s and was one of the most famous offshore centers. However, due to tightening of tax legislation, the importance of the financial sector has declined sharply.

Tourism: Tourism is a rapidly growing economic sector and an important source of foreign exchange. In 2016, 95,100 foreign visitors came to the islands, plus 254,500 cruise passengers (mainly from Australia and New Zealand). The focus of the government-funded expansion of the tourism infrastructure is Efate with the cultural landscape of Chief Roi Mata’s Domain (UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008), Espiritu Santo and Tanna.

Transportation

The road network covers 1,130 km. Overseas ports have Port Vila on Efate and Luganville on Espiritu Santo. International airports are at Port Vila, Lunganville and Whitegrass (on Tanna).

Vanuatu Economy