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The Republic of Vanuatu is a group of 83 islands. It is located in the Pacific Ocean in the middle of the triangle Fiji, Solomon Islands and New Caledonia. From Australia it is reached by plane in around three hours of flight time. The country has been experiencing a steady growth in tourism over the past decade or so, mainly from Australia and New Zealand.
Vanuatu was under British and French rule until it's Independence in 1980
. English and French are therefore both official languages and widely spoken. The first national language, however,  is Bislama, a variation of Pidgin English spoken in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Beside that, there are over 100 distinct local languages spoken. The population of Vanuatu is around 240'000 people.
Due to its particular location and make up of the society, Vanuatu depends on imports - virtually everything is imported - which in return are taxed heavily, providing the country with the almost only source of revenue apart from aid money. This leaves Vanuatu as one of the most expensive countries in the world while at the same time being one of the poorest in the world. Wealth is very unevenly distributed between expatriate residents and the local population. Crime and prostitution have been on the rise and local education and healthcare are in a desolate state.
Not everything is looking that bleak, though. When one leaves the two urban centers and goes to the villages, especially on outer islands, life is simple and still quite untouched from modern civilization and the people want you to believe that they are happy that way.
Spiritually Vanuatu is not unlike other Pacific Island nations. Thoroughly evangelized during the 19th century the country embraced Christianity with much joy. Under the surface, though, things are not that simple. Animism is still the dominant worldview and even one might attend every church program there is, consulting the witchdoctor and the use of black magic are still very common and accepted. The people are generally very open to anything spiritual and religious groups such as the Mormons, JWs, Bahai and other cults have quite a large and growing following. More recently, Islam has stepped foot on the islands and a growing number of local people are joining the Muslim faith community.



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