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VanuatuVanuatu's name comes from the words vanua and tu, meaning "home" or "land," and "stand" respectively. This name, from the Austronesian languages indicates the country's independence.


The people of Vanuatu today are somewhat diverse as the islands have become somewhat urbanized and foreigners have arrived and call these towns and cities home. However, for most of the population the country remains rural as the people remained tied to historic cultural traditions and lifestyles that have been a part of their lives for years.

Vanuatu is fairly close to Australia and Asia so it is no surprise these islands were among the first settled in the South Pacific. These early settlers primarily lived off the lands and seas as the people appeared to have been fairly divided by the seas as over 100 languages are still spoken to some degree today, yet the people still maintained contact with other islands. Life for these early settlers appears to have been simple and today's inhabitants are related to these earlier settlers as all are Melanesian.

Initial European interactions and landings did little to change the culture or lifestyle, especially considering few settled and most of the people on the islands fiercely fought any attempts to land or settle the islands. This began to change in the 1800s with the introduction of Christianity. The people almost wholly converted to this religion as it truly changed their lifestyles and culture, beginning with how the people dressed and also allowed settlement by foreign powers.

This led to economic expeditions and settlement by both the British and French, each of whom introduced new cultural aspects and languages to the people. These two European powers held on to the lands for some time, both changing the culture in numerous ways, but also creating some division and conflict. Eventually Vanuatu gained in dependence, but the heavy cultural influences and settlement from Europe forever changed the people and culture of the island nation. Today the country remains home to many foreigners and has more significant towns than much of the South Pacific. However, the people maintain their native languages, foods, and traditions, such as young men jumping off a tower with nothing but a rope tied to their feet to prove their manhood.

Information for Vanuatu was last updated: March, 2014 ● View our: Sources & Special Thanks