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Discover Vanuato


With a population of approximately 221,000 (from the Vanuatu Statistics Bureau 2006), Vanuatu boasts 113 distinct languages and innumerable dialects. This makes it one of the most culturally diverse countries on earth. This amazing diversity is a result of 3,000 years of sporadic immigration from many Pacific countries. Although most settlers arrive from Melanesia, the larger built, lighter skinned Polynesians also settled in the islands. As with all nations and peoples, over millennia these different groups came into both peaceful and violent contact, sometimes intermarrying and sometimes having losing their cultural identity to a more dominant group. Each successive wave of immigrants carried with them all the tools needed to live. Food crops, tree seedlings and their most important animal - the pig. This animal is probably the most significant aspect of life in Vanuatu, for it symbolises not simply a source of protein, it is the cornerstone of their ritual life, a token of wealth and power upon which entire societies are founded. Over the millennia, natural boundaries; large open stretches of water, dense jungle and mountainous terrain, isolated many groups, even from the same ethnic origins, from each other. And isolation bred not just warfare, but quite different, sophisticated societies and political systems. Unfortunately, when Europeans began trading in Vanuatu, they often used such warfare to their own advantage. Today, there are four main cultural areas. In the northern areas, there are two variations of a social and political society where men and women can 'purchase' positions of status. Wealth, in the form of mats and pigs - particularly pigs with rounded tusks - is not defined so much by how much an individual owns, but by demonstrating how much he can give away. Grade taking ceremonies, where large numbers of pigs are ritually killed and gifts given to members of an extended family, are elaborate affairs. Although the status of a person may be publicly displayed with, for example, certain body decorations, and a respect for their status, there is no real authority attached. In the central areas, Polynesian type systems have predominated. Here, a hereditary chief is a powerful authority figure reigning over an entire class system, complete with nobles and commoners.



created on

03 / 26 / 2015

created by

Vanuato Tourism Office


Tourism offices


- Vanuatu