Unity Day

To celebrate the struggles of previous generations and the subsequent unification of these differing groups into one nation, Unity Day has been established as an annual event in Vanuatu on November 29. To celebrate this day, representatives from all of Vanuatu’s peoples come to the capital city of Port Vila. High chiefs from all of the islands attend the festivities, which include performances by native dancers in their traditional dress and a parade. Celebrations also occur throughout Vanuatu, which typically include picnics, parades, concerts, sporting events and local performances by native dancers in traditional dress.

The nation of Vanuatu is an archipelago of 83 islands, 113 languages, and a host of different tribal groups. These tribal groups had inhabited the islands for thousands of years when Captain Cook encountered the archipelago in 1774 and named it the New Hebrides. After the Europeans discovered the region’s natural resources, they took control of the islands and imposed a system of indentured servitude on the local population. By the early 20th century, the French and British had joint control over the islands, with the native population holding little power. But the 1970s saw the rise of an independence movement and in 1977, in the middle of the ensuing strife, Unity Day was established to remind the country’s diverse population of its shared struggles and interests. The independent Republic of Vanuatu was eventually officially created in 1980.

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