Fiji: Truth, Knowledge, History of South Pacific Island Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACTBOOK)

 

Fiji

Introduction Fiji became independent in 1970, after nearly a century as a British colony. Democratic rule was interrupted by two military coups in 1987, caused by concern over a government perceived as dominated by the Indian community (descendants of contract laborers brought to the islands by the British in the 19th century). The coups and a 1990 constitution that cemented native Melanesian control of Fiji, led to heavy Indian emigration; the population loss resulted in economic difficulties, but ensured that Melanesians became the majority. A new constitution enacted in 1997 was more equitable. Free and peaceful elections in 1999 resulted in a government led by an Indo-Fijian, but a civilian-led coup in May 2000 ushered in a prolonged period of political turmoil. Parliamentary elections held in August 2001 provided Fiji with a democratically elected government led by Prime Minister Laisenia QARASE. Re-elected in May 2006, QARASE was ousted in a December 2006 military coup led by Commodore Voreqe BAINIMARAMA, who initially appointed himself acting president. In January 2007, BAINIMARAMA was appointed interim prime minister.
History The first inhabitants of Fiji arrived long before contact with European explorers in the seventeenth century. Pottery excavated from Fijian towns shows that Fiji was settled before or around 1000 BC, although the question of Pacific migration still lingers.[2] The Dutch explorer Abel Tasman visited Fiji in 1643 while looking for the Great Southern Continent.[3] It was not until the nineteenth century, however, that Europeans settled the islands permanently.[4] The islands came under British control as a colony in 1874, and the British brought over Indian contract labourers. It was granted independence in 1970. Democratic rule was interrupted by two military coups in 1987 because the government was perceived as dominated by the Indo-Fijian (Indian) community. The second 1987 coup saw the British monarchy and the Governor General replaced by a non-executive President, and the country changed the long form of its name from Dominion of Fiji to Republic of Fiji (and to Republic of the Fiji Islands in 1997). The coups contributed to heavy Indian emigration; the population loss resulted in economic difficulties but ensured that Melanesians became the majority.

In 1990, the new Constitution institutionalised the ethnic Fijian domination of the political system. The Group Against Racial Discrimination (GARD) was formed to oppose the unilaterally imposed constitution and restore the 1970 constitution. Sitiveni Rabuka, the Lieutenant Colonel who carried out the 1987 coup became Prime Minister in 1992, following elections held under the new constitution. Three years later, Rabuka established the Constitutional Review Commission, which in 1997 led to a new Constitution, which was supported by most leaders of the indigenous Fijian and Indo-Fijian communities. Fiji is readmitted to the Commonwealth of Nations.

The new millennium brought along another coup, instigated by George Speight, that effectively toppled the government of Mahendra Chaudhry, who became Prime Minister following the 1997 constitution. Commodore Frank Bainimarama assumed executive power after the resignation, possibly forced, of President Mara. Fiji was rocked by two mutinies at Suva’s Queen Elizabeth Barracks, later in 2000 when rebel soldiers went on the rampage. The High Court ordered the reinstatement of the constitution, and in September 2001, a general election was held to restore democracy, which was won by interim Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase’s Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua party.

In 2005, amid much controversy, the Qarase government proposed a Reconciliation and Unity Commission, with power to recommend compensation for victims of the 2000 coup, and amnesty for its perpetrators. However, the military strongly opposed this bill, especially the army’s commander, Frank Bainimarama. He agreed with detractors who said that it was a sham to grant amnesty to supporters of the present government who played roles in the coup. His attack on the legislation, which continued unremittingly throughout May and into June and July, further strained his already tense relationship with the government. In late November 2006 and early December 2006, Bainimarama was instrumental in the 2006 Fijian coup d’état. Bainimarama handed down a list of demands to Qarase after a bill was put forward to parliament, part of which would have offered pardons to participants in the 2000 coup attempt. He gave Qarase an ultimatum date of 4 December to accede to these demands or to resign from his post. Qarase adamantly refused to either concede or resign and on 5 December President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, was said to have signed a legal order dissolving Parliament after meeting with Bainimarama.

For a country of its size, Fiji has a large armed forces, and has been a major contributor to UN peacekeeping missions in various parts of the world. In addition, a significant number of former military personnel have served in the lucrative security sector in Iraq following the 2003 US-led invasion.

Geography Location: Oceania, island group in the South Pacific Ocean, about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand
Geographic coordinates: 18 00 S, 175 00 E
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 18,270 sq km
land: 18,270 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than New Jersey
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 1,129 km
Maritime claims: measured from claimed archipelagic straight baselines
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation; rectilinear shelf claim added
Climate: tropical marine; only slight seasonal temperature variation
Terrain: mostly mountains of volcanic origin
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Tomanivi 1,324 m
Natural resources: timber, fish, gold, copper, offshore oil potential, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 10.95%
permanent crops: 4.65%
other: 84.4% (2005)
Irrigated land: 30 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 28.6 cu km (1987)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.07 cu km/yr (14%/14%/71%)
per capita: 82 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: cyclonic storms can occur from November to January
Environment – current issues: deforestation; soil erosion
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: includes 332 islands; approximately 110 are inhabited
Politics Politics of Fiji normally take place in the framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister of Fiji is the head of government, the President the head of state, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Parliament of Fiji. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Since independence there have been four coups in Fiji, two in 1987, one in 2000 and one in late 2006. The military has been either ruling directly, or heavily influencing governments since 1987.

2006 military takeover

Citing corruption in the government, Commodore Josaia Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama, Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, staged a military take over on December 5, 2006 against the Prime Minister that he himself had installed after the 2000 coup. There had been two military coups in 1987 and one in 2000 when the military had taken over from elected governments led by or dominated by Indo Fijians. On this occasion the military took over from an indigenous Fijian government which it alleged was corrupt and racist. The Commodore took over the powers of the President and dissolved the parliament, paving the way for the military to continue the take over.

The coup was the culmination of weeks of speculation following conflict between the elected Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, and Commodore Bainimarama. Bainamarama had repeatedly issued demands and deadlines to the Prime Minister. At particular issue was previously pending legislation to pardon those involved in the 2000 coup. Despite intervention to reconcile the parties by the President, Vice President and Helen Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand there was no willingness to make concessions on either side. This therefore failed to resolve the crisis.

Bainimarama named Jona Senilagakali caretaker Prime Minister. The next week Bainimarama said he would ask the Great Council of Chiefs to restore executive powers to President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo.[5] On December 6, Bainimarama declared a state of emergency, and warned that he would not tolerate any violence or unrest.

Following the coup, the Commonwealth of Nations held an emergency meeting in London, where they declared Fiji’s membership had been suspended. On December 9, the military rulers advertised for positions in the Government, including cabinet posts, in a national newspaper. They stated people wishing to apply must be “of outstanding character”, have no criminal record, and never have been bankrupt.[6]

Also on December 9 the IFNA withdrew the right of Fiji to host the 2007 World Netball Championships as a consequence of the Military takeover. The withdrawal is expected to have a significant impact in Fiji due to the popularity of sports such as Netball.

On January 4, 2007, the military announced that it was restoring executive power to President Iloilo,[7] who made a broadcast endorsing the actions of the military.[8] The next day, Iloilo named Bainimarama as the interim Prime Minister,[9] indicating that the Military was still effectively in control.

In the wake of the take over, reports have emerged of intimidation of some of those critical of the interim regime. It is alleged that two individuals have died in military custody since December 2006. These deaths have been investigated and suspects charged but not yet brought to court.

Following ongoing criticism from neighbours, specifically Australia and New Zealand, the New Zealand High Commissioner Michael Green was expelled from Fiji in mid June 2007, in the aftermath of restrictive emergency regulations having been lifted (recognised as a generally positive development by outside observers).

On September 6, 2007, Commodore Frank Bainimarama said Fiji’s military declared again a state of emergency as he believed ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase was engaged in destabilization efforts when he returned to Suva after 8 months of exile on his home island Vanuabalavu in Lau, Elections were tentatively set on March 2009.[10]

The interim Government set up an anti corruption Commission which have received numerous complaints and allegations, also there have been a number of high profile dismissals from government and associated industry. The anti corruption body however, has yet to successfully prosecute anyone for alleged corruption.

During November 2007 there were a number of people brought in for questioning in regard to an assassination Plot directed at the Interim Prime Minister, senior army officers and members of the Interim Cabinet.

People Population: 918,675 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 30.9% (male 144,665/female 138,816)
15-64 years: 64.7% (male 297,709/female 296,897)
65 years and over: 4.4% (male 18,397/female 22,191) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 24.9 years
male: 24.4 years
female: 25.4 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.394% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 22.37 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 5.66 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: -2.78 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.042 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.003 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.829 male(s)/female
total population: 1.006 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 11.99 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 13.3 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 10.61 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 70.12 years
male: 67.6 years
female: 72.76 years

New Caledonia: Truth Knowledge And The History Of This Island Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

New Caledonia

Introduction Settled by both Britain and France during the first half of the 19th century, the island was made a French possession in 1853. It served as a penal colony for four decades after 1864. Agitation for independence during the 1980s and early 1990s ended in the 1998 Noumea Accord, which over a period of 15 to 20 years will transfer an increasing amount of governing responsibility from France to New Caledonia. The agreement also commits France to conduct as many as three referenda between 2013 and 2018, to decide whether New Caledonia should assume full sovereignty and independence.
History The western Pacific was first populated about 50,000 years ago. The Austronesians moved into the area later. The diverse group of people that settled over the Melanesian archipelagos are known as the Lapita. They arrived in the archipelago now commonly known as New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands around 1500 BC. The Lapita were highly skilled navigators and agriculturists with influence over a large area of the Pacific.

From about the 11th century Polynesians also arrived and mixed with the populations of the archipelago.

Europeans first sighted New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands in the late 18th century. The British explorer James Cook sighted Grande Terre in 1774 and named it New Caledonia, Caledonia being the Latin name for Scotland. During the same voyage he also named the islands to the north of New Caledonia the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu), after the islands north of Scotland.

Whalers operated off New Caledonia during the 19th century. Sandalwood traders were welcome but as supplies diminished, the traders became abusive. The Europeans brought new diseases such as smallpox, measles, dysentery, influenza, syphilis and leprosy. Many people died as a result of these diseases. Tensions developed into hostilities and in 1849 the crew of the Cutter were killed and eaten by the Pouma clan.

As trade in sandalwood declined it was replaced by a new form of trade, Blackbirding. Blackbirding was a euphemism for enslaving people from New Caledonia, the Loyalty Islands, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands to work in sugar cane plantations in Fiji and Queensland. The trade ceased at the start of the 20th century. The victims of this trade were called Kanakas, a label later shortened to Kanak and adopted by the indigenous population after French annexation.

The island was made a French possession in late 1853 in an attempt by Napoleon III to rival the British colonies in Australia and New Zealand. Following the example set by the British in nearby Australia, between 1864 and 1922 France sent a total of 22,000 convicted felons to penal colonies along the south-west coast of the island; this number includes regular criminals as well as political prisoners such as Parisian socialists and Kabyle nationalists. Towards the end of the penal colony era, free European settlers (including former convicts) and Asian contract workers by far out-numbered the population of forced workers. The indigenous Kanak populations declined drastically in that same period due to introduced diseases and an apartheid-like system called Code de l’Indigénat which imposed severe restrictions on their livelihood, freedom of movement and land ownership.

During World War II, US and Allies forces built a major position in New Caledonia to combat the advance of Japan in South-East Asia and toward Australia. Noumea served as a headquarters for the United States military in the Pacific. The proximity of the territory with the South Pacific operations permitted also quick repairs in Noumea of damaged US ships. The American 23rd Infantry Division is still unofficially named Americal, the name being a contraction of “America” and “New Caledonia”.

The U.S. military headquarters – a pentagonal complex – was, after the war, taken over as the base for a new regional intergovernmental development organisation: the South Pacific Commission, later known as the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

New Caledonia has been on a United Nations list of non-self-governing territories since 1986. Agitation by the Front de Libération Nationale Kanak Socialiste (FLNKS) for independence began in 1985. The FLNKS (led by the late Jean-Marie Tjibaou, assassinated in 1989) advocated the creation of an independent state of ‘Kanaky’. The troubles culminated in 1988 with a bloody hostage taking in Ouvéa. The unrest led to agreement on increased autonomy in the Matignon Accords of 1988 and the Nouméa Accord of 1998. This Accord describes the devolution process as “irreversible” and also provides for a local Caledonian citizenship, separate official symbols of Caledonian identity (such as a “national” flag), as well as mandating a referendum on the contentious issue of independence from the French Republic sometime after 2014.

Geography Location: Oceania, islands in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Australia
Geographic coordinates: 21 30 S, 165 30 E
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 19,060 sq km
land: 18,575 sq km
water: 485 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than New Jersey
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 2,254 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; modified by southeast trade winds; hot, humid
Terrain: coastal plains with interior mountains
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mont Panie 1,628 m
Natural resources: nickel, chrome, iron, cobalt, manganese, silver, gold, lead, copper
Land use: arable land: 0.32%
permanent crops: 0.22%
other: 99.46% (2005)
Irrigated land: 100 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards: cyclones, most frequent from November to March
Environment – current issues: erosion caused by mining exploitation and forest fires
Geography – note: consists of the main island of New Caledonia (one of the largest in the Pacific Ocean), the archipelago of Iles Loyaute, and numerous small, sparsely populated islands and atolls
Politics The unique status of New Caledonia is in between that of an independent country and a normal Overseas department of France.

On the one hand, both a Territorial Congress (Congress of New Caledonia) and government have been established, and are increasingly empowered via the gradual implementation of a devolution of powers from France in favour of New Caledonia, pursuant to the 1998 Nouméa Accord. Key areas (e.g. taxation, labour law, health and hygiene, foreign trade, and others) are already in the hands of the Territorial Congress and government. Further authority will be given to the Territorial Congress in the near future. Ultimately, the French Republic should only remain in charge of foreign affairs, justice, defense, public order, and treasury. An additional enhancement to New Caledonian autonomy has come in the form of recently-introduced territorial “citizenship”: Only New Caledonian “citizens” have the right to vote in local elections. The introduction of this right has been criticised, because it creates a second-class status for French citizens living in New Caledonia who do not possess New Caledonian “citizenship” (because they settled in the territory recently). Further signs of increased autonomy for the territory, include New Caledonia’s right to engage in international cooperation with independent countries of the Pacific Ocean region, the continued use of a local currency (the French Pacific Franc, or CFP) rather than the Euro, as well as the authority of the Territorial Congress to pass statutes overriding French law in a certain number of areas.

On the other hand, New Caledonia remains a part of the French Republic. The inhabitants of New Caledonia are French citizens and carry French passports. They take part in the legislative and presidential French elections, sending two representatives to the French National Assembly and one senator to the French Senate. At the 2007 French presidential election the voter turnout in New Caledonia was 68.14%.[5] The representative of the French central state in New Caledonia is the High Commissioner of the Republic (Haut-Commissaire de la République, locally known as “haussaire”), who is the head of civil services, and who sits as an integral part of the territorial government.

The Nouméa Accord provides a mechanism for the determination of the ultimate status and degree of New Caledonian territorial autonomy: Pursuant to the Accord, the Territorial Congress will have the right to call for a referendum on independence, at any time of its choosing after 2014.

The current president of the government elected by the territorial Congress is Harold Martin, from the loyalist (i.e. anti-independence) “Future Together” party (l’Avenir Ensemble), which crushed the long-time ruling RPCR (Rally for Caledonia in the Republic) in May 2004. “Future Together” is a party of mostly White and Polynesian New Caledonians opposed to independence, but rebelling against the hegemonistic and (allegedly) corrupt anti-independence RPCR, led by the now-discredited Jacques Lafleur. Their toppling of the RPCR (that was until then seen as the only voice of New Caledonian Whites) was a surprise to many, and a sign that New Caledonian society is undergoing changes. “Future Together,” as the name implies, is opposed to a racial-oriented vision of New Caledonian political life, one based purely on the political primacy of either the Melanesian native inhabitants or the descendants of European settlers. Rather, it is in favour of a multicultural New Caledonia, of governing principles that better reflect the reality of the existence of large populations of Polynesians, Indonesians, Chinese, and other immigrant communities that make up the territory’s population. Some members of “Future Together” are even in favour of independence, though not necessarily on the same basis as the Melanesian independence parties.

People Population: 224,824 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 27.3% (male 31,376/female 30,064)
15-64 years: 65.6% (male 74,064/female 73,369)
65 years and over: 7.1% (male 7,377/female 8,574) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 28.4 years
male: 28 years
female: 28.8 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.175% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 17.39 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 5.64 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: NA
note: there has been steady emigration from Wallis and Futuna to New Caledonia (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 7.19 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 7.85 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.5 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 74.75 years
male: 71.76 years
female: 77.88 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.21 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Vanuatu: Information About The Island Nation From The ‘CIA Fact Book’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘CIA FACT BOOK’)

 

Vanuatu

Introduction Multiple waves of colonizers, each speaking a distinct language, migrated to the New Hebrides in the millennia preceding European exploration in the 18th century. This settlement pattern accounts for the complex linguistic diversity found on the archipelago to this day. 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, when the new name of Vanuatu was adopted.
History The prehistory of Vanuatu is obscure; archaeological evidence supports the commonly held theory that peoples speaking Austronesian languages first came to the islands some 4,000 years ago. Pottery fragments have been found dating back to 1300–1100 B.C.

The first island in the Vanuatu group discovered by Europeans was Espiritu Santo, when in 1606 the Portuguese explorer Pedro Fernandes de Queirós working for the Spanish crown, spied what he thought was a southern continent. Europeans did not return until 1768, when Louis Antoine de Bougainville rediscovered the islands. In 1774, Captain Cook named the islands the New Hebrides, a name that lasted until independence.

In 1825, trader Peter Dillon’s discovery of sandalwood on the island of Erromango began a rush that ended in 1830 after a clash between immigrant Polynesian workers and indigenous Melanesians. During the 1860s, planters in Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, and the Samoa Islands, in need of laborers, encouraged a long-term indentured labor trade called “blackbirding.” At the height of the labor trade, more than one-half the adult male population of several of the Islands worked abroad. Fragmentary evidence indicates that the current population of Vanuatu is greatly reduced compared to pre-contact times.

It was at this time that missionaries, both Catholic and Protestant, arrived on the islands. Settlers also came, looking for land on which to establish cotton plantations. When international cotton prices collapsed, they switched to coffee, cocoa, bananas, and, most successfully, coconuts. Initially, British subjects from Australia made up the majority, but the establishment of the Caledonian Company of the New Hebrides in 1882 soon tipped the balance in favor of French subjects. By the turn of the century, the French outnumbered the British two to one.

The jumbling of French and British interests in the islands brought petitions for one or another of the two powers to annex the territory. In 1906, however, France and the United Kingdom agreed to administer the islands jointly. Called the British-French Condominium, it was a unique form of government, with separate governmental systems that came together only in a joint court. Melanesians were barred from acquiring the citizenship of either power.

Challenges to this form of government began in the early 1940s. The arrival of Americans during World War II, with their informal demeanor and relative wealth, was instrumental in the rise of nationalism in the islands. The belief in a mythical messianic figure named John Frum was the basis for an indigenous cargo cult (a movement attempting to obtain industrial goods through magic) promising Melanesian deliverance. Today, John Frum is both a religion and a political party with a member in Parliament.

The first political party was established in the early 1970s and originally was called the New Hebrides National Party. One of the founders was Father Walter Lini, who later became Prime Minister. Renamed the Vanua’aku Pati in 1974, the party pushed for independence; in 1980, the Republic of Vanuatu was created.

During the 1990s Vanuatu experienced political instability which eventually resulted in a more decentralised government. The Vanuatu Mobile Force, a paramilitary group, attempted a coup in 1996 because of a pay dispute. There were allegations of corruption in the government of Maxime Carlot Korman. New elections have been called for, several times since 1997, most recently in 2004.

Geography Location: Oceania, group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to Australia
Geographic coordinates: 16 00 S, 167 00 E
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 12,200 sq km
land: 12,200 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes more than 80 islands, about 65 of which are inhabited
Area – comparative: slightly larger than Connecticut
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 2,528 km
Maritime claims: measured from claimed archipelagic baselines
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
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
Terrain: mostly mountainous islands of volcanic origin; narrow coastal plains
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Tabwemasana 1,877 m
Natural resources: manganese, hardwood forests, fish
Land use: arable land: 1.64%
permanent crops: 6.97%
other: 91.39% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: tropical cyclones or typhoons (January to April); volcanic eruption on Aoba (Ambae) island began 27 November 2005, volcanism also causes minor earthquakes; tsunamis
Environment – current issues: most 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
Geography – note: a Y-shaped chain of four main islands and 80 smaller islands; several of the islands have active volcanoes
Politics Vanuatu has a parliamentary democracy political system which is currently headed by a President who has, primarily, ceremonial powers and who is elected for 5-year terms by a two-thirds majority in an electoral college. This electoral college consists of members of Parliament and the presidents of Regional Councils. The President may be removed by the electoral college for gross misconduct or incapacity. The Prime Minister, who is the head of government, is elected by a majority vote of a three-fourths quorum of the Parliament. The prime minister, in turn, appoints the Council of Ministers, whose number may not exceed a quarter of the number of parliamentary representatives. The prime minister and the Council of Ministers constitute the executive government.

The Parliament of Vanuatu is unicameral and has 54 members who are elected by popular vote every four years, unless earlier dissolved by a majority vote of a three-quarters quorum or by a directive from the President on the advice of the Prime Minister. The national Council of Chiefs, called the Malvatu Mauri and elected by district councils of chiefs, advises the government on all matters concerning ni-Vanuatu culture and language.

Besides a national authorities and figures, Vanuatu also has high-placed people at village level. Chiefs were and are still the leading figures on village level. It has been reported that even politicians need to oblige them. One becomes such figure by holding a number of lavish feasts (each feast allowing them a higher ceremonial grade) or alternatively through inheritance (the latter only in Polynesian-influenced villages). In northern Vanuatu, grades trough feasts are taken trough the nimangki-system.

Government and society in Vanuatu tend to divide along linguistic French and English lines. Forming coalition governments, however, has proved problematic at times due to differences between English and French speakers.

The Supreme Court consists of a chief justice and up to three other judges. Two or more members of this court may constitute a Court of Appeal. Magistrate courts handle most routine legal matters. The legal system is based on British common law and French civil law. The constitution also provides for the establishment of village or island courts presided over by chiefs to deal with questions of customary law.

People Population: 218,519 (July 2009 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 30.7% (male 34,263/female 32,833)
15-64 years: 65.3% (male 72,670/female 69,970)
65 years and over: 4% (male 4,516/female 4,267) (2009 est.)
Median age: total: 24.2 years
male: 24.2 years
female: 24.2 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.398% (2009 est.)
Birth rate: 21.95 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 7.61 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: NA (2009 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.06 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 49.45 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 51.97 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 46.81 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 63.98 years
male: 62.37 years
female: 65.66 years (2009 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.5 children born/woman (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Ni-Vanuatu (singular and plural)
adjective: Ni-Vanuatu
Ethnic groups: Ni-Vanuatu 98.5%, other 1.5% (1999 Census)
Religions: Presbyterian 31.4%, Anglican 13.4%, Roman Catholic 13.1%, Seventh-Day Adventist 10.8%, other Christian 13.8%, indigenous beliefs 5.6% (including Jon Frum cargo cult), other 9.6%, none 1%, unspecified 1.3% (1999 Census)
Languages: local languages (more than 100) 72.6%, pidgin (known as Bislama or Bichelama) 23.1%, English 1.9%, French 1.4%, other 0.3%, unspecified 0.7% (1999 Census)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 74%
male: NA
female: NA (1999 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 10 years
male: 11 years
female: 10 years (2004)
Education expenditures: 9.5% of GDP (2003)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Vanuatu
conventional short form: Vanuatu
local long form: Ripablik blong Vanuatu
local short form: Vanuatu
former: New Hebrides
Government type: parliamentary republic
Capital: name: Port-Vila (on Efate)
geographic coordinates: 17 44 S, 168 19 E
time difference: UTC+11 (16 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: 6 provinces; Malampa, Penama, Sanma, Shefa, Tafea, Torba
Independence: 30 July 1980 (from France and UK)
National holiday: Independence Day, 30 July (1980)
Constitution: 30 July 1980
Legal system: unified system being created from former dual French and British systems; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Kalkot Matas KELEKELE (since 16 August 2004)
head of government: Prime Minister Edward NATAPEI (since 22 September 2008); Deputy Prime Minister Ham LINI (since 22 September 2008)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister, responsible to Parliament
elections: president elected for a five-year term by an electoral college consisting of Parliament and the presidents of the regional councils; election for president last held 16 August 2004 (next to be held in 2009); following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition is usually elected prime minister by Parliament from among its members; election for prime minister last held 22 September 2008 (next to be held following general elections in 2012)
election results: Kalkot Matas KELEKELE elected president, with 49 votes out of 56, after several ballots on 16 August 2004
Legislative branch: unicameral Parliament (52 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 2 September 2008 (next to be held 2012)
election results: percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – VP 11, NUP 8, UMP 7, VRP 7, PPP 4, GC 2, MPP 1, NA 1, NAG 1, PAP 1, Shepherds Alliance 1, VFFP 1, VLP 1, VNP 1, VPRFP 1, and independent 4; note – political party associations are fluid
note: the National Council of Chiefs advises on matters of culture and language
Judicial branch: Supreme Court (chief justice is appointed by the president after consultation with the prime minister and the leader of the opposition, three other justices are appointed by the president on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission)
Political parties and leaders: Greens Confederation or GC [Moana CARCASSES]; Jon Frum Movement or JF [Song KEASPAI]; Melanesian Progressive Party or MPP [Barak SOPE]; Nagriamel movement or NAG [Havo MOLI]; Namangi Aute or NA [Paul TELUKLUK]; National United Party or NUP [Ham LINI]; People’s Action Party or PAP [Peter VUTA]; People’s Progressive Party or PPP [Sato KILMAN]; Shepherds Alliance Party [leader NA]; Union of Moderate Parties or UMP [Serge VOHOR]; Vanuatu Family First Party or VFFP [Eta RORI]; Vanuatu Labor Party or VLP [Joshua KALSAKAU]; Vanuatu National Party or VNP [Issac HAMARILIU]; Vanua’aku Pati (Our Land Party) or VP [Edward NATAPEI]; Vanuatu Republican Party or VRP [Maxime Carlot KORMAN]; Vanuatu Republican Farmers Party or VPRFP [Jean RAVOU]
Political pressure groups and leaders: NA
International organization participation: ACCT, ACP, ADB, C, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IOC, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NAM, OAS (observer), OIF, OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WHO, WMO, WTO (observer)
Diplomatic representation in the US: Vanuatu does not have an embassy in the US; it does, however, have a Permanent Mission to the UN
Diplomatic representation from the US: the US does not have an embassy in Vanuatu; the ambassador to Papua New Guinea is accredited to Vanuatu
Flag description: two equal horizontal bands of red (top) and green with a black isosceles triangle (based on the hoist side) all separated by a black-edged yellow stripe in the shape of a horizontal Y (the two points of the Y face the hoist side and enclose the triangle); centered in the triangle is a boar’s tusk encircling two crossed namele leaves, all in yellow
Culture Vanuatu culture retains a strong diversity through local regional variations and through foreign influence. Vanuatu may be divided into three major cultural regions. In the north, wealth is established by how much one can give away. Pigs, particularly those with rounded tusks, are considered a symbol of wealth throughout Vanuatu. In the centre, more traditional Melanesian cultural systems dominate. In the south, a system involving grants of title with associated privileges has developed.

Young men undergo various coming-of-age ceremonies and rituals to initiate them into manhood, usually including circumcision.

Most villages have a nakamal or village clubhouse which serves as a meeting point for men and to as a place to drink kava.

Villages also have male and female-only sections. These sections are situated all over the villages, in nakamals, special spaces for females when they are in their menstruation period.

The traditional music of Vanuatu is still thriving in the rural areas of Vanuatu. Musical instruments consist mostly of idiophones: drums of various shape and size, slit gongs, as well as rattles, among others. Another musical genre that has become widely popular during the 20th century in all areas of Vanuatu, is known as string band music. It combines guitars, ukulele, and popular songs. More recently the music of Vanuatu, as an industry, grew rapidly in the 1990s and several bands have forged a distinctive ni-Vanuatu identity. Popular genres of modern commercial music, which are currently being played in town include zouk music and reggaeton. Reggaeton, a variation of hip-hop rapped in Spanish, played alongside its own distinctive beat, is especially played in the local nightclubs of Vanuatu with, mostly, an audience of Westerners and tourists.

There are few prominent ni-Vanuatu authors, but women’s rights activist Grace Mera Molisa, who died in 2002, achieved international notability as a very descriptive poet.

Cricket is very popular in Vanuatu. There are 8000 registered cricketers. Sport varies depending on the gender of those involved. Volleyball is considered a ‘girls’ sport’ and males play soccer.

The cuisine of Vanuatu (aelan kakae) incorporates fish, root vegetables such as taro and yams, fruits, and vegetables. Most island families grow food in their gardens, and food shortages are rare. Papayas, pineapples, mangoes, plantains, and sweet potatoes are abundant through much of the year. Coconut milk and cream are used to flavor many dishes. Most food is cooked using hot stones or through boiling and steaming; very little food is fried.

Economy Economy – overview: This South Pacific island economy is based primarily on small-scale agriculture, which provides a living for over 70% of the population. Fishing, offshore financial services, and tourism, with more than 167,000 visitors in 2007, 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. In response to foreign concerns, the government has promised to tighten regulation of its offshore financial center. In mid-2002 the government stepped up efforts to boost tourism through improved air connections, resort development, and cruise ship facilities. Agriculture, especially livestock farming, is a second target for growth. Australia and New Zealand are the main suppliers of tourists and foreign aid.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $1.01 billion (2008 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $560 million (2008 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 6.5% (2008 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP): $4,700 (2008 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 26%
industry: 12%
services: 62% (2000 est.)
Labor force: 76,410 (1999)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 65%
industry: 5%
services: 30% (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate: 1.7% (1999)
Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Budget: revenues: $78.7 million
expenditures: $72.23 million (2005)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3.9% (2007 est.)
Central bank discount rate: 6% (31 December 2007)
Commercial bank prime lending rate: 8.16% (31 December 2007)
Stock of money: $107.1 million (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money: $421.8 million (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit: $229.5 million (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $NA
Agriculture – products: copra, coconuts, cocoa, coffee, taro, yams, fruits, vegetables; beef; fish
Industries: food and fish freezing, wood processing, meat canning
Industrial production growth rate: 1% (1997 est.)
Electricity – production: 46 million kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – consumption: 39.99 million kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – exports: 0 kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – imports: 0 kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Oil – production: 0 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – consumption: 660 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil – exports: 0 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – imports: 671 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – proved reserves: 0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas – production: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – consumption: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – exports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – imports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – proved reserves: 0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance: -$60 million (2007 est.)
Exports: $40 million f.o.b. (2006)
Exports – commodities: copra, beef, cocoa, timber, kava, coffee
Exports – partners: Thailand 58.3%, India 18.5%, Japan 11.3% (2007)
Imports: $156 million c.i.f. (2006)
Imports – commodities: machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, fuels
Imports – partners: Australia 20.7%, Singapore 11.8%, NZ 11.2%, Norway 8.5%, US 8.3%, Fiji 8.1%, China 7.2%, New Caledonia 4.5% (2007)
Economic aid – recipient: $39.48 million (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $40.54 million (2003)
Debt – external: $81.2 million (2004)
Currency (code): vatu (VUV)
Currency code: VUV
Exchange rates: vatu (VUV) per US dollar – NA (2007), 111.93 (2006), NA (2005), 111.79 (2004), 122.19 (2003)
Communications Telephones – main lines in use: 8,800 (2007)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 26,000 (2007)
Telephone system: general assessment: NA
domestic: NA
international: country code – 678; satellite earth station – 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 2, FM 4, shortwave 1 (2001)
Radios: 67,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 1 (2004)
Televisions: 2,300 (1999)
Internet country code: .vu
Internet hosts: 990 (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: 17,000 (2007)
Transportation Airports: 31 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2007)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 28
914 to 1,523 m: 6
under 914 m: 22 (2007)
Roadways: total: 1,070 km
paved: 256 km
unpaved: 814 km (1999)
Merchant marine: total: 54
by type: bulk carrier 32, cargo 8, container 1, liquefied gas 2, passenger 1, petroleum tanker 1, refrigerated cargo 4, vehicle carrier 5
foreign-owned: 54 (Australia 2, Belgium 4, Canada 5, Estonia 1, Greece 1, Japan 29, Monaco 1, Poland 7, Russia 2, Switzerland 1, US 1) (2008)
Ports and terminals: Forari, Port-Vila, Santo (Espiritu Santo)
Military Military branches: no regular military forces; Vanuatu Police Force (VPF), Vanuatu Mobile Force (VMF; includes Police Maritime Wing (PMW)) (2008)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 58,900 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 41,533
females age 16-49: 42,837 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 2,368
female: 2,272 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures: NA
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: Matthew and Hunter Islands east of New Caledonia claimed by Vanuatu and France