Monday, April 10, 2006

Country Focus: Vanuatu

Background: The British and French, who settled the New Hebrides in the 19th century, agreed in 1906 to an Anglo-French Condominium, which administered the islands until independence in 1980

Location: Oceania, group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to Australia

Population: 208,869 (July 2005 est.)

Total Area: 12,200 sq km - slightly larger than Connecticut

Climate: tropical; moderated by southeast trade winds from May to October; moderate rainfall from November to April; may be affected by cyclones from December to April

Natural resources: manganese, hardwood forests, fish

Environment - current issues: a majority of the population does not have access to a reliable supply of potable water; deforestation

Environment - international agreements: party to: Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 94. Signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

National holiday: Independence Day, 30 July

Economy - brief overview: This South Pacific island economy is based primarily on small-scale agriculture, which provides a living for 65% of the population. Fishing, offshore financial services, and tourism, with about 50,000 visitors in 2004, 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.

Budget: revenues: $52.6 million; expenditures: $54.3 million; including capital expenditures of $700,000 (2003)

Labor force: NA

Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 65%, industry 5%, services 30% (2000 est.)

Unemployment rate: NA

Agriculture - products: copra, coconuts, cocoa, coffee, taro, yams, fruits, vegetables; beef; fish

Industries: food and fish freezing, wood processing, meat canning

Exports: $205 million f.o.b. (2004 est.)

Exports - commodities: copra, beef, cocoa, timber, kava, coffee

Exports - partners: Thailand 47%, Malaysia 18.4%, Japan 7.5%, Belgium 5.4%, China 4.9% (2004)

Imports: $233 million c.i.f. (2004 est.)

Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, fuels

Imports - partners: Taiwan 24%, Australia 16.5%, Japan 11.4%, Singapore 8.5%, New Zealand 7.2%, Fiji 6.3%, US 4.4% (2004)

Government departments:
Government of Vanuatu

Vanuatu News Online
Vanuatu Daily Post - Latest News

Travel Information:
Vanuatu Tourism Office

Other useful links:
Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority
Vanuatu Cultural Center
Vanuatu Volcanoes - John Seach

News headlines
New Zealand aid agency says Vanuatu benefits from its funds Radio
Vanuatu police officer may be suspended for newspaper incident Radio Australia
Vanuatu's Companies Urged To Comply With Financial Reporting Laws,

Previous articles in the series:
Albania Botswana Cayman Islands Djibouti Ecuador Fiji Georgia Honduras Iceland Jamaica Kyrgyzstan Liechtenstein Mauritania Norway Oman Paraguay Rwanda Slovenia Tuvalu Uruguay