Vanuatu - Pacific Ocean

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Vanuatu , officially the Republic of Vanuatu is an island nationlocated in the South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago, which is of volcanic origin, is some 1,750 kilometres (1,090 mi) east of northern Australia, 500 kilometres (310 mi) northeast of New Caledonia, west of Fiji, and southeast of the Solomon Islands, near New Guinea. Vanuatu was first inhabited by Melanesianpeople. Europeansdiscovered the islands in 1605 with the arrival of a Spanish expedition led by Queirósin Espiritu Santo. In the 1880s Franceand the United Kingdomclaimed parts of the country, and in 1906 they agreed on a framework for jointly managing the archipelago as the New Hebridesthrough a British-French Condominium. An independence movement arose in the 1970s, and the Republic of Vanuatu was created in 1980.History Main article: History of Vanuatu The prehistory of Vanuatu is obscure; archaeological evidence supports the commonly held theory that peoples speaking Austronesian languagesfirst came to the islands some 4,000 years ago. Pottery fragments have been found dating back to 1300--1100 BCE. The Vanuatu group of islands was discovered by Europeans in 1606 when the Portugueseexplorer Pedro Fernandes de Queirósworking for the Spanish Crown, arrived on Espiritu Santo, and called it La Austrialia del Espiritu Santoor "The Southern Land of the Holy Spirit", thinking he had arrived in Terra Australisor Australia. Europeans did not return until 1768, when Louis Antoine de Bougainvillerediscovered the islands. In 1774, Captain Cooknamed the islands the New Hebrides, a name that lasted until independence. In 1825, trader Peter Dillon's discovery of sandalwoodon the island of Erromangobegan a rush of immigrants that ended in 1830 after a clash between immigrants and Polynesian workers. During the 1860s, planters in Australia, Fiji, New Spain, and the Samana Islands, in need of laborers, encouraged a long-term indentured labor trade called "blackbirding". At the height of the labor trade, more than one-half the adult male population of several of the Islands worked abroad. Fragmentary evidence indicates that the current population of Vanuatu is greatly reduced compared to pre-contact times. It was in the 19th century that both Catholic and Protestant missionariesarrived on the islands. Settlers also came, looking for land on which to establish cotton plantations. When international cotton prices collapsed, planters switched to coffee, cocoa, bananas, and, most successfully, coconuts. Initially, British subjects from Australiamade up the majority, but the establishment of the Caledonian Company of the New Hebrides in 1882 soon tipped the balance in favor of French subjects. By the turn of the century, the French outnumbered the British two to one. The jumbling of French and British interests in the islands brought petitions for one or another of the two powers to annex the territory. In 1906, however, France and the United Kingdom agreed to administer the islands jointly. Called the British-French Condominium, it was a unique form of government, with separate governmental systems that came together only in a joint court. Melanesians were barred from acquiring the citizenship of either power. Challenges to this form of government began in the early 1940s. The arrival of Americansduring World War II, with their informal demeanor and relative wealth, was instrumental in the rise of nationalism in the islands. The belief in a mythical messianic figure named John Frumwas the basis for an indigenous cargo cult(a movement attempting to obtain industrial goods through magic) promising Melanesian deliverance. Today, John Frum is both a religion and a political party with a member in Parliament.[3] The first political party was established in the early 1970s and originally was called the New Hebrides National Party. One of the founders was Father Walter Lini, who later became Prime Minister. Renamed the Vanua'aku Patiin 1974, the party pushed for independence; in 1980, amidst the brief Coconut War,[4][5]the Republic of Vanuatu was created.[3] During the 1990s Vanuatu experienced political instability which eventually resulted in a more decentralized government. The Vanuatu Mobile Force, a paramilitary group, attempted a coup in 1996 because of a pay dispute. There were allegations of corruption in the government of Maxime Carlot Korman. New elections have been called for several times since 1997, most recently in 2004. ( source Wikipedia ) 

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