Vanuatu comprises four main islands and 80 smaller islands, about 60 of which are inhabited.

There is significant volcanic activity, with multiple eruptions in recent years. Yasur, on Tanna Island, is one of the world's most active volcanoes. There are several underwater volcanoes as well.

The population of Vanuatu is 261,565.

Around three quarters of Vanuatu's population live in villages of less than 200 people

The capital city is Port Vila.

Official languages are Bislama (Pidgin), English and French. There are also more than 100 local languages.

Natural Environment and Climate

Vanuatu, is highly vulnerable to climate change, particularly the increasing ferocity of extreme weather events. In March 2015, the immense tropical cyclone Pam (TC Pam) ripped through Vanuatu causing extensive damage, displacement and trauma.

Vanuatu is the country most at risk of natural disasters, with volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis and cyclones relatively common occurrences (UNU-EHS, 2011).


The economy is based on small-scale agriculture, which provides a living for about two-thirds of the population.

Fishing, offshore financial services and tourism are other mainstays.

Australia and New Zealand are the main suppliers of tourists and foreign aid.

Main agricultural products are copra, coconuts, cocoa, coffee, taro, yams, fruits, vegetables, beef and fish.


Social Issues

  • Vanuatu scored 138 in theWorld’s Human Development Index 2018 compared to NZ’s 16th place.

  • In  Vanuatu almost 40% of the population is under the age of 15-years and almost 65% of the population is aged under 30.

  • A  high proportion of young people is a challenge across the Pacific.


youth in the pacific2 

Consequences of a high youth population

The challenge in Vanuatu is ensuring there are enough employment and education opportunities for young people.  Because the consequences of having a job versus not having a job are significant and broad.


kiribati graph