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Wednesday 12th June
Vanuatu Information - Page 2
The first Europeans to visit the Vanuatu archipelago were led by Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, the Portuguese navigator, in the service of the King of Spain (1606). Around a hundred and sixty years later, the French, and then the British, arrived.

In 1887 the French and the British formed a Joint Naval Commission on the islands and in 1906 the two countries set up an Anglo-French Condominium to administer "Vanuatu".

In the early 1960s the NaGriamel movement was founded. NaGriamel was one of the political organizations in Vanuatu that wanted the return of land to the indigenous people.

Vanuatu achieved independence in 1980 and Father Walter Lini of the Vanua'aku Party became the first prime minister. Vanuatu retained links with the UK as a member of the Commonwealth.

In 2010 the Asian Development Bank cited Vanuatu as one of the fastest growing economies in the Pacific, with a seventh consecutive year of growth.

Services account for the largest percentage of the country's Gross Domestic Product. Offshore financial services are well developed and tourism is a provider of foreign currency.

Agriculture is the largest employer in Vanuatu, followed by services. Only a small percentage of the working population is employed in industry.

Agricultural products include coconuts (copra), bananas, citrus fruits, nuts, taro, yams, cocoa and coffee. Cattle and pigs are reared. Fishing and forestry are important industries. (2011)

Music, song and dance are a feature of traditional Ni-Vanuatu ceremonies. Story telling has transmitted history and cultural values from generation to generation. Ritual celebrations include the use of body paint, tattoos, masks and headdresses.

The Further Arts Organization promotes music, dance and culture in Vanuatu.

Ni-Vanuatu athletes take part in the Olympic Games and other international events. Football is a favourite team game.

Swimming is also popular and there is an annual Ocean Swim with a 3.2 km course around Iririki Island. Sandy beaches, clear seas, coral reefs and shipwrecks make the islands very attractive to divers and other water sports enthusiasts.

Vanuatu is a good destination for big-game fishing. Visitors can fish for blue marlin, tuna and sailfish.

National holidays in Vanuatu include Easter, Christmas, New Year's Day, Independence Day (30 July) and Constitution Day (5 October).

News from Vanuatu is available from Newslink.

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