Vanuatu’s History

This small archipelago has undergone some amazing changes over the centuries. Archaeologists reckon there are artefacts on Vanuatu dating back to 1,000 B.C. We can never be sure which islands existed when because there has been (and to some extent still is) volcanic activity in the region.

The Melanesian people were the original inhabitants. The Portuguese, British and French have all been involved over previous centuries. Captain James Cook did a Cook’s tour of the islands and their name became the New Hebrides. Sandalwood was harvested to extinction and many of the natives were kidnapped to work on sugar plantations in Australia. In World War 2 the Allies used the islands as a base for the war in the Pacific.

In 1980, Vanuatu achieved independence, changed its name to Vanuatu, meaning home or land stand. Democratic elections are held to form the local government and, like many other democracies, politicians come in and go out of favour on a regular basis.