Capital | Port Vila
Population | 221,552 (July 2010 est.)
Area | 12,200 SQ KM
Official Language | Bislama, English, French
Holidays | Independence Day, 30 July (1980 – from France and the UK)
Currency | vatu (VUV)
Time Zone | UTC +11
Best Time to Visit | April to October (the southern winter)
Connecting with the Culture | Watching out for dugongs (sea cows) while snorkeling. Witnessing a very old extreme sport as the islanders on Pentecost land-dive to guarantee their yam harvest. Find the beach of your dreams only to find that there is an even better one on the next island (there are 83 islands in all). Joining in local volleyball games.
Read | Jeremy McClancy’s To Kill a Bird With Two Stones – an exceptional history of Vanuatu up to its independence in 1980.
Listen | to the tamtam or slit-drums – still crafted from traditional designs, they were once used to send coded messages between communities.
Eat | a banana as long as your arm, baked sweet in the oven and sliced like a steak on your plate.
Drink | aelan bia (island beer), otherwise known as kava
In a Word | Tank yu tumas (thank you very much in Bislama)
Characteristics | jungle; local dances; atmospheric drumming; wild boars; carvings and spears; aqua blue water; snorkeling and scuba diving; big bananas; wild cyclones.
Surprises | This laidback place is uptight about magic; the cuisine is well regarded throughout the Pacific