Vanuatu is an island country located in the southern Pacific Ocean. This archipelago is made up of 83 small islands of which around 65 are inhabited. Its nearest countries are Solomon Islands to the north west, Tuvalu to the north east, Wallis and Futuna and Fiji to the east, New Caledonia to the south west and Australia to the west.
One of the happiest places, Vanuatu has a lot to offer. From lush rainforests to amazing marine life and even lava spewing volcanoes, the country is filled with natural wonders. But before you plan a trip to this island nation, here are some interesting facts for you.
Interesting facts about Vanuatu
1. A lot of us give credit to New Zealand for introducing us to bungee jumping. But not many people know that this adventurous sport was invented in Vanuatu. When the yam crop begins to emerge in early April, locals build wooden towers between 20-30m high. Once completed, the village boys and men have to prove themselves by jumping from the towers with only vines around there ankles. This ritual is known as Nanggol.
AJ Hackett was inspired by the idea and he started the first commercial bungee jump in New Zealand.
2. They practiced cannibalism and the last recorded cannibal killing on Vanuatu was as recent as 1969. And even though it is no longer practiced, the customary cooking skills are still passed down through generations. Apparently the standard cooking time for a human is 3 to 5 hours. Now, why would you want to give ideas to people?
3. When it comes to natural disasters, Vanuatu is the most dangerous countries in the world. The country is positioned over the ring of fire and has high chances of experiencing earthquakes, storms, floods, droughts and sea level rises.
4. When talking about the volcanoes, let me tell you that the country is home to the world’s most accessible active volcano. Mount Yasur in Tanna Island is filled with furious molten rock. You can stand on the rim while the volcano is bursting lava in the air right in front of you. This will be definitely a unique experience.
5. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip visited the island nation in 1974. A war canoe paddler greeted the royal couple and was convinced that Prince Philip was the descendant of a Tanna spiritual ancestor. Since then the Tanna Island tribe is worshipping the prince. Today they have a Facebook page dedicated to “The Prince Philip Movement”. Prince Philip has also exchanged gifts with the islanders, including sending them a signed portrait of himself.
6. Vanuatu is not one of the richest countries in the world yet it remains one of the happiest. Vanuatu means “Land Eternal” and the people love their country. According to the law, all land in Vanuatu belongs to the native ni-Vanuatu population and cannot be sold to foreigners.
7. The people of Vanuatu speak 113 languages making it the second most linguistically diverse nations on the planet after Papua New Guinea.
8. The country is also known for its dense rainforests. The flying fox is an endemic bat species found here.
9. The national dish has a very interesting name – ‘lap-lap’. It is vegetable paste, coconut milk and meat cooked in a banana leaf.
10. Vanuatu is also making efforts to ban junk food. The island Torba is banning importation of Western food, to become totally organic. This is an attempt to eat healthy and ward off potential health problems.
11. You might have heard about underwater hotel and restaurants, but have you heard about an underwater post office? Yes, the world’s only underwater post office happens to be right here in Vanuatu, off the tropical reef of Hideaway Island. Send waterproof postcards from here to your loved ones while finding Nemo.
Trip leader Sakshi’s Recommendations if you are visiting Vanuatu
Wreck diving in Espiritu Santo Island: Vanuatu has one of the most acclaimed wreck dives in the world. The USS President Coolidge was a luxury liner that was converted to a troop ship during the Second World War. It was carrying 5,000 troops to the military base in Espiritu Santo Island when it hit two American mines and sunk just meters off the beach. Nearly everybody made it safely to the shore but the wreck has been a mecca for scuba divers ever since. It is regarded as the world’s largest and most accessible wreck, and easy to reach with just a snorkel and fin.
Mount Vasur: you cannot miss climbing the most accessible volcano in the world. The landscape around the mountain will make you believe that you are not on Earth. And when talking about the accessibility, you can practically drive till the top of the mountain. The experience from the top will be unforgettable as you see the red molten lava bubbling and the steam hissing towards the sky.
Matevulu Blue Hole: These blue holes are one of the prettiest natural swimming pools you will come across. Found on Espiritu Santo, these crystal clear pools are formed by fresh water springs rising through limestone. The pools are shaded by massive banyan trees and it’s a delight to watch locals swinging on their branches and into the pool. You can also grab your snorkel to experience the unique underwater landscapes.