Vanuatu History and Politics

By | June 27, 2021

Early days

Already in the third millennium BC BC people probably lived on the small atolls and archipelagos that make up the island state of Vanuatu today. They settled the islands from Micronesia. There was an exchange with Polynesia. However, the remoteness of the small islands prevented greater exchange through trade. The islands remained isolated from the rest of the world for a long time. It tells of a chief named Roy Mata, who managed to unite the different tribes that lived on the islands. This chief is revered to this day.

A mistake – Vanuatu was not the longed-for southern continent

In 1606 a Portuguese named Pedro Fernandez de Queiros came to the islands. He was of the opinion that he would have found the ” southern continent ” that all seafaring nations were looking for at the time. But he was wrong. Although the island was now discovered, it remained isolated and did not become a colony.

The next Europeans

That only changed in 1768. A Frenchman named Louis Antoine de Bougainville became interested in the islands. The famous bougainvillea plant, which you can find on many islands in the Pacific, was named after him. He also cleared up the mistake that Vanuatu was the southern continent. As a result, the first French came to Vanuatu, a country in Oceania defined by directoryaah.

James Cook and the “New Hebrides”

James Cook, another famous seafarer and explorer, landed on Vanuatu in 1779 and gave the islands a name: “New Hebrides”. They also had this name for a long time. In 1825 a trading post was established and European immigrants followed with the intention of exploiting the land.

So the interest of the colonial powers Great Britain and France in the islands increased and an agreement was reached. The New Hebrides were to be placed under joint French and British administration. Above all, the island’s rich forests were exploited. A tree grew here, the sandalwood tree, with which good business could be done. No mercy was granted to those who resisted exploitation by the residents.

Long road to independence

Even if the French gave up large parts of their colonial empire after World War II, they kept Vanuatu because of the raw materials. During the Second World War, Vanuatu was briefly under the rule of the United States, who stationed troops here, but gave up the country again after 1945. Even if the residents were given further rights over time, it was still a long time before they achieved their real independence in 1980.

A young state

Vanuatu is still very young as a state. The British retained their influence and ousted the French, who largely left the island. The governments changed. The result was great poverty in the country. The islets had their own parliaments and these became more and more important. The central government has long been weak. So government followed government and only in the last few years, with the growing tourism, has more money come into the small state and the people are better off.

Parliamentary Republic of Vanuatu

Vanuatu has been a parliamentary republic since 1980 and a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The head of state is a president who is elected every five years. This has been Baldwin Lonsdale since September 2014. But there is also a council of chiefs called the National Council of Chiefs, which advises the government. The chiefs still have a certain say in political decisions.

Vanuatu History

Typical Vanuatu

Happy people

Although Vanuatu is little known, everyone was talking about the small island nation in 2006. This time it wasn’t a cyclone that made the country headline news, it was a poll. In 2006, for example, a survey was carried out to measure the satisfaction of the population worldwide.

Are you happier on an island?!

Life expectancy and environmental issues were also included in the survey. In the end, it was found that the probability of being happier on an island is greater than on the mainland. However, nobody has found out the causes and reasons for this. And this survey also found that the inhabitants of the island of Vanuatu are among the happiest on earth.

Satisfied with little

The islanders are very fortunate that they are satisfied with little and thus simply have a greater chance of being happy. Maybe we should cut a slice of it. For example, the residents think about how one could do good to others. Maybe not a bad luck recipe at all and recommended for imitation?

Life in the village

Many people live in small villages that are often difficult to reach. They often still live here as they did many years ago. They have preserved their culture, customs and traditions. Many of these small villages have fewer than 50 inhabitants. In the photo opposite you can see a man who still makes a fire in the traditional way by rubbing wood on wood. The children seem to be very interested. Especially on the island of Malekula the people still live so originally. In the cities, life looks very different, of course.

What is naghol

An important event that takes place annually on Pentecost Island is the Naghol. This festival is always celebrated after the yam is harvested on Saturdays in April or May. Men plunge into the depths from diving platforms built especially for this purpose. They only hang on a vine. It’s pretty dangerous. If the rope is too long, then the jumpers have bad luck. It is said that bungee jumping evolved from this type of jumping. The lianas were then simply replaced by rubber ropes. In the photo you can see a man jumping off the tower. This is by no means recommended for imitation!