Vanuatu

Vanuatu

As South Pacific paradises go, Vanuatu is neither predictable nor placid. This Y-shaped archipelago of small islands, located directly over the Pacific Ring of Fire, has live volcanoes and daring vine jumpers, and it happens to be located in a cyclone corridor. It also has an extraordinary collection of exotic rituals and taboos, thanks to the French, British, native Melanesians, Chinese and Vietnamese, all of whom have contributed their own flavors to Vanuatu’s ethnic patchwork quilt.

If you’re looking for a relaxed, accommodating island paradise that caters to your every whim, Vanuatu may not be what you’re looking for. But for adventurous travelers intrigued by its beautiful, tumultuous topography and its stubbornly traditional culture, Vanuatu does offer a glimpse of the South Pacific as it can rarely be experienced.

Geography

Vanuatu lies in the South Pacific 1,200 mi/1,920 km northeast of Brisbane, Australia, and 600 mi/960 km northwest of Fiji. Although the country consists of more than 80 islands stretching across some 500 mi/800 km, only about 12 of the islands have a significant population. The main islands are Tanna, Efate and Espiritu Santo. Because it lies directly over the shifting tectonic plates of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the archipelago is subject to constant seismic activity, from volcanoes to earthquakes and tremors.