Vanuatu

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Overview
Known as the New Hebrides, the island group had the distinction of having two colonial rulers—at the same time. The British and French shared the islands with duplicating administrations and much confusion and inaction. When independence came, schisms developed between those used to using English and those used to using French. Some islands even rebelled and tried to secede. The rebellions were suppressed, with the help of troops from Papua New Guinea. Democracy seemed to prevail, as sometimes English speakers would win, and sometimes French. There are actually more than 100 indigenous languages and tribal groups, including the people of Pentecost Island who practice land diving, the inspiration for the “sport” of bungee jumping. For many Americans, Vanuatu is best known as the setting of James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific.
 
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Basic Information

Lay of the Land:  Vanuatu is south of the Solomon Islands and east of Australia. It consists of several large volcanic islands with rugged and heavily forested mountains in the interior and narrow plains around the coast.

 
Population:  215,000
 
Religions: Presbyterian 31.4%, Anglican 13.4%, Roman Catholic 13.1%, Seventh Day Adventist 10.8%, other Christian 13.8%, indigenous beliefs 5.6% (including Jon Frum cargo cult), other 9.6%, none 1%, unspecified 0.3%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Melanesian (Ni-Vanuatu) 98.5%, other 1.5%.
 
Languages: About 114 indigenous languages spoken by 72.6%, Pidgin (Bislama) 23.1%, English 1.9%, French 1.4%, other 0.3%, unspecified 0.7%.
 

 

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History
Vanuatu was settled by Melanesians about 3,000 years ago. They were divided into more than a hundred tribal groups, each with its own language, and they developed some interesting traditions including, on the island of Pentecost, land diving. European explorers eventually stumbled across the islands and they were soon followed by sandalwood traders. The abuses caused by these traders resulted in missionaries being attacked and killed. Various missionaries persevered, and slowly they made converts. When a measles outbreak wiped out thousands of islanders, missionaries were blamed and some were killed. Then blackbirders showed up, and more abuses were heaped on the people of Vanuatu. Both Britain and France were interested in the group, with traders and missionaries from both having settled in the islands. In 1906, Britain and France, in an unusally bizarre arrangement, agreed to share Vanuatu in a government known as “condominium.” There were two of everything: two police systems, two court systems, two education systems, two customs and immigration systems. Very little was accomplished during this period.
          
After World War II, the condominium government stumbled along, accomplishing little. Full independence was achieved in 1980. Upon independence, on some islands, fighting broke out between French-leaning and English-leaning factions. The government was dominated by Anglophones, and many Francophones felt disenfranchised. The largest island of Espiritu Santo seceded from the country and there were anti- government activities on Tanna as well. Neither Britain nor France would do anything because they supported different factions. The new Vanuatu government sought help from Papua New Guinea (PNG), which sent troops. The PNG troops occupied Espiritu Santo, crushed the rebellion, and arrested the leaders. This caused strained relations with France, but later a Francophone government was elected and Vanuatu-French relations improved.

 

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Vanuatu's Newspapers
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History of U.S. Relations with Vanuatu

During World War II, the United States established a huge base on Espiritu Santo and another at Port-Vila. The massive amounts of supplies and equipment brought in encouraged the people’s cargo cult beliefs, which had developed in the era of the traders. (In an unusually wasteful move, a military officer, as the base was being closed and the soldiers sent home, ordered hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of heavy equipment thrown into the sea.) Practitioners of cargo cults believe that if they say the right prayers and practice the right rituals, some day planes and ships will come, bringing goods just for them. Wartime Vanuatu was the main setting for James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific 

 
The United States was not happy when Vanuatu signed a fishing treaty with the Soviet Union in 1987. The treaty only lasted a year, as the Soviet Union fell apart. The United States was also critical of Vanuatu’s contacts with Libya and Cuba. Vanuatu had taken a pro-Melanesian stance, especially with regard to the independence movements in New Caledonia and Papua, the Indonesian half of New Guinea, and the overthrow of Indian-dominated governments in Fiji. The concern was that Vanuatu would harbor and train revolutionaries who would be infiltrated into New Caledonia or Papua to help the revolutions there and perhaps create instability in other groups in the Pacific. But by 1990 a pro-French government had been elected in Vanuatu, no terrorist camps were ever established, and the United States’ concerns melted away.
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Current U.S. Relations with Vanuatu
more less
Where Does the Money Flow

In 2007 the United States imported $885,000 worth of goods from Vanuatu, about half being tobacco, waxes, and non-food oils. This was down from $2,259,000 in 2006, a drop mostly in artwork and re-imports. The United States in 2007 exported goods worth $23,948,000, mostly in vessels and measuring, testing, and control instruments. The U.S. foreign aid request for Vanuatu for 2008 was only $115,000 to help train police to enforce maritime laws. However, this does not include the large Peace Corps presence in Vanuatu. Also, in 2006 the United States and Vanuatu singed an agreement which will provide Vanuatu $65.7 million dollars as part of the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation. This five-year agreement is to help improve transportation, trade, and tourism.

 
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Controversies
more less
Debate
more less
Past Ambassadors

Robert W. Fitts 9/11/03-10/2/06 (also accredited to Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea)

Susan S. Jacobs 11/7/00-8/1/03 (also accredited to Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea)
Arma Jane Karaer 4/15/97-5/28/00 (also accredited to Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea)
Richard W. Teare 11/23/93-7/14/96 (also accredited to Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea)
Robert William Farrand 5/1/90-9/13/93 (also accredited to Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea)
Everett E. Bierman 11/11/86-10/30/89 (also accredited to Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea)
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Vanuatu's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Kalpokas, Donald

Donald Kalpokas became Vanuatu’s ambassador to the United States in November 2007. He is also Vanuatu’s permanent representative to the United Nations. Kalpokas is a graduate of Ardmore Teacher’s College in New Zealand (1967) and the University of the South Pacific in Fiji (1974). He has spent a total of 10 years as a teacher. In 1988 he became Vanuatu’s Foreign Minister. Kalpokas was Prime Minister briefly in 1991, and opposition leader from 1991 to 1995. He became Prime Minister again from 1998 to 1999. From 2000 to 2004 he was a member of parliament and State Minister. Kalpokas speaks English, Bislama, and some Efate Island dialects.
 

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Vanuatu's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.

Vanuatu does not have an embassy in the United States. It does have a permanent mission to the United Nations.

 
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Vanuatu to the United Nations
800 Second Avenue, Suite 400B, New York, NY 10017
Telephone: (212) 661-4323/4303
Telefax: (212) 422-3427, 661-5544
E-mail: vanunmis@aol.com
more less

Comments

Kristen M. Carlson 7 years ago
My name is Kristen M. Carlson; I live at 1086 Greenhills Dr. Ann Arbor, MI, 48105. I am a Venezuelan; Pacific Islander. I hope to relocate to the Solomon Islands of Venezuela. I thought that you should know that I am a Pacific Islander. I appreciate your moral support. I am retired from the state of Michigan and hope to relocate to the torrid zone, as a Pacific Islander soon. Sincerely, Kristen M. Carlson

Leave a comment

U.S. Ambassador to Vanuatu

Taylor, Teddy
ambassador-image

Teddy B. Taylor, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service holding the rank of Minister Counselor, was sworn in as the U.S. Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu on September 21, 2009.  In a move sure to win hearts and minds in Papua New Guinea, Taylor and his wife, fellow Foreign Service officer Antoinette Corbin-Taylor, have partnered with her college sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, in a project to develop mobile library services in and for Papua New Guinea. Born circa 1953 in Washington, DC, Taylor graduated High School in the D.C. public schools, earned his B.A. in Political Science at Florida A&M University in 1975, and is a brother in the Omega Psi Phi fraternity.  

 
Taylor joined the Foreign Service in 1978, serving his first tour as a consular/economic officer at the American Embassy in Guatemala City, Guatemala, from 1978 to 1980.  He also served as a consular officer at the American Embassies in Panama City, Panama, from 1981 to 1983, and Tegucigalpa, Honduras, from 1983 to 1985. Returning stateside in 1985, Taylor served in a succession of roles, including Deputy Director of Press and Public Affairs in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs from 1985 to 1987, Deputy Policy Officer for Latin America at the former United States Information Agency from 1987 to 1988, Deputy Director for East Asian and Pacific Assignments in the Bureau of Human Resources from 1988 to 1991, Deputy Examiner in the Board of Foreign Service Examiners, Bureau of Human Resources from 1991 to 1992, and Special Assistant in the Office of Visa Services in the Bureau of Consular Affairs from 1992 to 1993. After eight years in Washington, DC, Taylor was assigned overseas again, this time at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest, Hungary, where he served as consular affairs officer from 1995 to 1999. Back in Washington in 1999, Taylor was the first African American Director of the Orientation Division at the Foreign Service Institute to 2001. He then served as U.S. Consul General at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, Cuba, from 2001 to 2003, and as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and Director of the Office of Employee Relations in the Bureau of Human Resources. 
 
Taylor has tried to play an active role in the lives of young people. During his tour at the US Embassy in Panama, he coached a 13-15 year old basketball team in the former Panama Canal Zone.  While in Hungary, Taylor was the Chairperson of the Cub and Boy Scout parent organization, and also served as a merit badge instructor and Chairman of the Eagle Scout Board of Review committee.  
 
Taylor speaks Spanish, Turkish, and Hungarian. He and his wife Antoinette have two children, Tina and Ashton. 
 
 
 
 

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Vanuatu

Rowe, Leslie
ambassador-image

The United States Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Leslie V. Rowe, began her appointment on October 15, 2006. She is also the ambassador to the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Rowe received a B.A. from Washington State University, an M.A. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and an M.Ed from Northeastern University. She also received a certificate from the Sorbonne in Paris, France, and was a Fulbright scholar in Germany. She taught foreign languages in high school and became the Director of the International Office of Tufts University.
           
Joining the Foreign Service in 1983, Rowe served in San Jose, Costa Rica and Sao Paulo, Brazil. She was Principal Officer at the U.S. Consulate in Recife, Brazil; country desk officer for Chile; Director of the Office of Children’s Issues at the Department of State; Consul General in Lisbon, Portugal; and Consul General in Bangkok, Thailand. Her most recent posting before taking her position as ambassador to Papua New Guinea, the Solomons and Vanuatu was as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy n Nairobi, Kenya. Rowe speaks French, Portuguese, and Spanish.
 
 

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Bookmark and Share
News
more less
Overview
Known as the New Hebrides, the island group had the distinction of having two colonial rulers—at the same time. The British and French shared the islands with duplicating administrations and much confusion and inaction. When independence came, schisms developed between those used to using English and those used to using French. Some islands even rebelled and tried to secede. The rebellions were suppressed, with the help of troops from Papua New Guinea. Democracy seemed to prevail, as sometimes English speakers would win, and sometimes French. There are actually more than 100 indigenous languages and tribal groups, including the people of Pentecost Island who practice land diving, the inspiration for the “sport” of bungee jumping. For many Americans, Vanuatu is best known as the setting of James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific.
 
more less
Basic Information

Lay of the Land:  Vanuatu is south of the Solomon Islands and east of Australia. It consists of several large volcanic islands with rugged and heavily forested mountains in the interior and narrow plains around the coast.

 
Population:  215,000
 
Religions: Presbyterian 31.4%, Anglican 13.4%, Roman Catholic 13.1%, Seventh Day Adventist 10.8%, other Christian 13.8%, indigenous beliefs 5.6% (including Jon Frum cargo cult), other 9.6%, none 1%, unspecified 0.3%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Melanesian (Ni-Vanuatu) 98.5%, other 1.5%.
 
Languages: About 114 indigenous languages spoken by 72.6%, Pidgin (Bislama) 23.1%, English 1.9%, French 1.4%, other 0.3%, unspecified 0.7%.
 

 

more less
History
Vanuatu was settled by Melanesians about 3,000 years ago. They were divided into more than a hundred tribal groups, each with its own language, and they developed some interesting traditions including, on the island of Pentecost, land diving. European explorers eventually stumbled across the islands and they were soon followed by sandalwood traders. The abuses caused by these traders resulted in missionaries being attacked and killed. Various missionaries persevered, and slowly they made converts. When a measles outbreak wiped out thousands of islanders, missionaries were blamed and some were killed. Then blackbirders showed up, and more abuses were heaped on the people of Vanuatu. Both Britain and France were interested in the group, with traders and missionaries from both having settled in the islands. In 1906, Britain and France, in an unusally bizarre arrangement, agreed to share Vanuatu in a government known as “condominium.” There were two of everything: two police systems, two court systems, two education systems, two customs and immigration systems. Very little was accomplished during this period.
          
After World War II, the condominium government stumbled along, accomplishing little. Full independence was achieved in 1980. Upon independence, on some islands, fighting broke out between French-leaning and English-leaning factions. The government was dominated by Anglophones, and many Francophones felt disenfranchised. The largest island of Espiritu Santo seceded from the country and there were anti- government activities on Tanna as well. Neither Britain nor France would do anything because they supported different factions. The new Vanuatu government sought help from Papua New Guinea (PNG), which sent troops. The PNG troops occupied Espiritu Santo, crushed the rebellion, and arrested the leaders. This caused strained relations with France, but later a Francophone government was elected and Vanuatu-French relations improved.

 

more less
Vanuatu's Newspapers
more less
History of U.S. Relations with Vanuatu

During World War II, the United States established a huge base on Espiritu Santo and another at Port-Vila. The massive amounts of supplies and equipment brought in encouraged the people’s cargo cult beliefs, which had developed in the era of the traders. (In an unusually wasteful move, a military officer, as the base was being closed and the soldiers sent home, ordered hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of heavy equipment thrown into the sea.) Practitioners of cargo cults believe that if they say the right prayers and practice the right rituals, some day planes and ships will come, bringing goods just for them. Wartime Vanuatu was the main setting for James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific 

 
The United States was not happy when Vanuatu signed a fishing treaty with the Soviet Union in 1987. The treaty only lasted a year, as the Soviet Union fell apart. The United States was also critical of Vanuatu’s contacts with Libya and Cuba. Vanuatu had taken a pro-Melanesian stance, especially with regard to the independence movements in New Caledonia and Papua, the Indonesian half of New Guinea, and the overthrow of Indian-dominated governments in Fiji. The concern was that Vanuatu would harbor and train revolutionaries who would be infiltrated into New Caledonia or Papua to help the revolutions there and perhaps create instability in other groups in the Pacific. But by 1990 a pro-French government had been elected in Vanuatu, no terrorist camps were ever established, and the United States’ concerns melted away.
more less
Current U.S. Relations with Vanuatu
more less
Where Does the Money Flow

In 2007 the United States imported $885,000 worth of goods from Vanuatu, about half being tobacco, waxes, and non-food oils. This was down from $2,259,000 in 2006, a drop mostly in artwork and re-imports. The United States in 2007 exported goods worth $23,948,000, mostly in vessels and measuring, testing, and control instruments. The U.S. foreign aid request for Vanuatu for 2008 was only $115,000 to help train police to enforce maritime laws. However, this does not include the large Peace Corps presence in Vanuatu. Also, in 2006 the United States and Vanuatu singed an agreement which will provide Vanuatu $65.7 million dollars as part of the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation. This five-year agreement is to help improve transportation, trade, and tourism.

 
more less
Controversies
more less
Debate
more less
Past Ambassadors

Robert W. Fitts 9/11/03-10/2/06 (also accredited to Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea)

Susan S. Jacobs 11/7/00-8/1/03 (also accredited to Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea)
Arma Jane Karaer 4/15/97-5/28/00 (also accredited to Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea)
Richard W. Teare 11/23/93-7/14/96 (also accredited to Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea)
Robert William Farrand 5/1/90-9/13/93 (also accredited to Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea)
Everett E. Bierman 11/11/86-10/30/89 (also accredited to Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea)
more less
Vanuatu's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Kalpokas, Donald

Donald Kalpokas became Vanuatu’s ambassador to the United States in November 2007. He is also Vanuatu’s permanent representative to the United Nations. Kalpokas is a graduate of Ardmore Teacher’s College in New Zealand (1967) and the University of the South Pacific in Fiji (1974). He has spent a total of 10 years as a teacher. In 1988 he became Vanuatu’s Foreign Minister. Kalpokas was Prime Minister briefly in 1991, and opposition leader from 1991 to 1995. He became Prime Minister again from 1998 to 1999. From 2000 to 2004 he was a member of parliament and State Minister. Kalpokas speaks English, Bislama, and some Efate Island dialects.
 

more less
Vanuatu's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.

Vanuatu does not have an embassy in the United States. It does have a permanent mission to the United Nations.

 
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Vanuatu to the United Nations
800 Second Avenue, Suite 400B, New York, NY 10017
Telephone: (212) 661-4323/4303
Telefax: (212) 422-3427, 661-5544
E-mail: vanunmis@aol.com
more less

Comments

Kristen M. Carlson 7 years ago
My name is Kristen M. Carlson; I live at 1086 Greenhills Dr. Ann Arbor, MI, 48105. I am a Venezuelan; Pacific Islander. I hope to relocate to the Solomon Islands of Venezuela. I thought that you should know that I am a Pacific Islander. I appreciate your moral support. I am retired from the state of Michigan and hope to relocate to the torrid zone, as a Pacific Islander soon. Sincerely, Kristen M. Carlson

Leave a comment

U.S. Ambassador to Vanuatu

Taylor, Teddy
ambassador-image

Teddy B. Taylor, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service holding the rank of Minister Counselor, was sworn in as the U.S. Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu on September 21, 2009.  In a move sure to win hearts and minds in Papua New Guinea, Taylor and his wife, fellow Foreign Service officer Antoinette Corbin-Taylor, have partnered with her college sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, in a project to develop mobile library services in and for Papua New Guinea. Born circa 1953 in Washington, DC, Taylor graduated High School in the D.C. public schools, earned his B.A. in Political Science at Florida A&M University in 1975, and is a brother in the Omega Psi Phi fraternity.  

 
Taylor joined the Foreign Service in 1978, serving his first tour as a consular/economic officer at the American Embassy in Guatemala City, Guatemala, from 1978 to 1980.  He also served as a consular officer at the American Embassies in Panama City, Panama, from 1981 to 1983, and Tegucigalpa, Honduras, from 1983 to 1985. Returning stateside in 1985, Taylor served in a succession of roles, including Deputy Director of Press and Public Affairs in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs from 1985 to 1987, Deputy Policy Officer for Latin America at the former United States Information Agency from 1987 to 1988, Deputy Director for East Asian and Pacific Assignments in the Bureau of Human Resources from 1988 to 1991, Deputy Examiner in the Board of Foreign Service Examiners, Bureau of Human Resources from 1991 to 1992, and Special Assistant in the Office of Visa Services in the Bureau of Consular Affairs from 1992 to 1993. After eight years in Washington, DC, Taylor was assigned overseas again, this time at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest, Hungary, where he served as consular affairs officer from 1995 to 1999. Back in Washington in 1999, Taylor was the first African American Director of the Orientation Division at the Foreign Service Institute to 2001. He then served as U.S. Consul General at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, Cuba, from 2001 to 2003, and as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and Director of the Office of Employee Relations in the Bureau of Human Resources. 
 
Taylor has tried to play an active role in the lives of young people. During his tour at the US Embassy in Panama, he coached a 13-15 year old basketball team in the former Panama Canal Zone.  While in Hungary, Taylor was the Chairperson of the Cub and Boy Scout parent organization, and also served as a merit badge instructor and Chairman of the Eagle Scout Board of Review committee.  
 
Taylor speaks Spanish, Turkish, and Hungarian. He and his wife Antoinette have two children, Tina and Ashton. 
 
 
 
 

more

Previous U.S. Ambassador to Vanuatu

Rowe, Leslie
ambassador-image

The United States Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Leslie V. Rowe, began her appointment on October 15, 2006. She is also the ambassador to the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Rowe received a B.A. from Washington State University, an M.A. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and an M.Ed from Northeastern University. She also received a certificate from the Sorbonne in Paris, France, and was a Fulbright scholar in Germany. She taught foreign languages in high school and became the Director of the International Office of Tufts University.
           
Joining the Foreign Service in 1983, Rowe served in San Jose, Costa Rica and Sao Paulo, Brazil. She was Principal Officer at the U.S. Consulate in Recife, Brazil; country desk officer for Chile; Director of the Office of Children’s Issues at the Department of State; Consul General in Lisbon, Portugal; and Consul General in Bangkok, Thailand. Her most recent posting before taking her position as ambassador to Papua New Guinea, the Solomons and Vanuatu was as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy n Nairobi, Kenya. Rowe speaks French, Portuguese, and Spanish.
 
 

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