Map Page 1128 Area 4,758 square mi (12,200 square km) Capital Port-Vila Population 199,414 Highest Point 6,194 ft (1,877 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP per capita $2,900 Primary Natural Resources manganese, hardwood forests, fish.
UPON ACHIEVING independence from FRANCE and Great Britain in 1980, the peoples of the islands known as the New Hebrides renamed the island nation Vanuatu-" forever our land"-in a strident attempt to break with one of the most turbulent colonial histories of the developing world.
The Y-shaped chain of four main islands and 80 smaller islands, 1,240 mi (2,000 km) northeast of AUSTRALIA, has contended with violent competition between French and British colonial authorities, determinedly zealous Christian missionaries, and unscrupulous planters and pirates, not to mention the violence of its own indigenous intertribal conflicts and the natural dangers of life on some of the most active volcanic islands on the planet.
On the border between the South PACIFIC and the Coral Sea, the islands of Vanuatu were formed from volcanic activity along the colliding Pacific and Indo- Australian continental plates.
Geological activity contributes frequent EARTHQUAKES, TSUNAMIS, and volcanic eruptions-more than six volcanoes are currently active- which in places has been turned to economic advantage: Mount Yasur, on the island of Tanna, is one of the most accessible erupting volcanoes in the world, and visits (primarily at night) are an important part of most tourist itineraries.
The land is mostly mountainous, with low coastal plains.
Espiritu Santo and Malakula are the largest islands, with nearly half of the total land area, though the capital, Port Vila, and much of the population are on Efate.
The other large town is Luganville on Espiritu Santo.
Some of the smaller islands are coral and limestone, rather than volcanic, but only one is purely a coral atoll.
Sir Francis Drake named the islands New Hebrides, after the islands off the coast of Scotland, when he passed through in the early 17th century.
Lying between two competing colonial zones in MELANESIA, the islands were approached by rival European traders and missionaries: British from the SOLOMON ISLANDS to the north, and French from NEW CALEDONIA to the south.
First attracted to the large amounts of tropical hardwood (notably sandalwood), Europeans soon shifted their interests to the population themselves, shipping them off in great numbers to work plantations in Australia, FIJI, New Caledonia and the Samoas, leaving much of the islands under-populated.
Both British and French settlers established plantations and conflicts between these groups led to the establishment of an Anglo-French condominium administration in 1906.
Unique in the world of colonial administrations (it has been called an "elaborate joke"), the shared government resulted in virtually no government at all.
Three separate administrations-one for the French residents, one for the British residents, and one for the Melanesians, who also continued to maintain their traditional tribal governments-meant that there was very little concerted effort at developing of roads or government, and the islands were largely unprepared for independence when it finally came in 1980.
Most of the population relies on subsistence or smallscale agriculture.
Most of the French population was not eager for independence, since much of the land faced confiscation by a Melanesian-run government, and pro-French militant groups had to be put down with assistance from Australia and PAPUA NEW GUINEA.
France itself is wary of influence on neighboring New Caledonia, which continues to struggle for independence, and also contends with Vanuatu over possession of Matthew and Hunter islands, far to the south.
- China’s glass-bottom bridge appeared to be not as strong as everybody expected
"The glass on the bottom got cracked just underneath the tourists
It is reported that one of the tourists dropped a metal mug on the bridge floor while visiting this new place of interest. It resulted in a glass crack. When this happened all the tourists were immediately evacuated and the bridge itself was closed to the public.
The representatives of the Shiniuzhai geological park, where the bridge is placed state that the accident didn’t threaten the visitors’ security as there was only 1 of the 3 glass layers that got cracked. The glassmaker also agrees that there was nothing to worry about and the glass cracks don’t pose any risk to the tourists. However, it’s hard to believe, but that is not the first material flaw produced by this company. A year ago the glass floor placed at one of the skyscrapers in Chicago got cracked and was supplied by the same company. "
- Tourists from Germany and Poland have stolen a gondola
"Two tourists from Germany and Poland “have borrowed” a gondola while its owner was absent and started their romantic cruise along the Venetian canals. They didn’t manage to go far away as the police arrested them. And now the tourists are facing a sentence: they have already been charged for stealing and creating a hazardous situation on the traffic artery of the city.
The angry owner of the gondola adds more fuel to the fire. Despite the fact that his vessel is undamaged he is on the point of applying to court for compensation for moral damage. He actually may be understood as the price for the cheapest gondola equals to the price for the premium class car. "