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A Country of Sandy Beaches, Volcanos, and Golden Passports: Unknown Facts about Vanuatu

Vanuatu is among the countries that grant their citizenship to foreign investors. It takes only a couple of months to obtain a Vanuatu passport and you don’t have to ever visit the country to become its citizen: you can send the application documents by mail, make a bank transfer, and they will mail your Vanuatu passport to wherever you are.

However, the fact that you don’t have to go to Vanuatu does not mean that you shouldn’t. Most nationalities have visa-free access to Vanuatu and visiting the country might be an especially good idea if you are planning to make it your second home. We assure you that the trip is going to be exotic indeed!

Vanuatu

Commonly known facts about Vanuatu

Brave natives jump off 30-meter ritual towers in Vanuatu. Cannibalistic practices were in existence until the 1960s on the islands. There is a cult of the late Prince Philippe who locals adore. This is probably all that you’ve heard about Vanuatu, a country lying between Fiji and Australia and consisting of 83 volcanic islands.  

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One more fact: you probably have never been to Vanuatu. Statistical information allows us to make this bold claim: only 20,000 tourists (around 0.00025% of the world population) visit Vanuatu per year. Most of them are Australians looking for quiet sandy beaches. When the COVID-19 restrictions were in force and the quarantine was strictly observed in Vanuatu, the number of foreign tourists was close to zero.

Reasons why tourists seldom go to Vanuatu

The main factors that limit the number of tourists in Vanuatu are the geographical position of the country and the climate. The local media regularly report earthquakes and hurricanes. Besides, the country is a truly remote one. Let’s consider the main factors that make Vanuatu unattractive for foreign tourists.

  • It’s hard to get to Vanuatu. Australians can reach Vanuatu within three hours by plane. However, few residents of Australia fly to Vanuatu because Australians are spoiled by the wide choice of paradise islands in the South Pacific region. As far as Europeans and Americans are concerned, they have to take a 36-hour flight to get to Vanuatu and they have to change planes at least twice.
  • Earthquakes. Earthquakes happen frequently in Vanuatu and sometimes they cause tsunamis. The archipelago previously known as New Hebrides is located at the border of two tectonic plates that constantly move. Another important factor is that many buildings in Vanuatu are vulnerable to earthquakes: they are built of wooden boards and they collapse when an earthquake occurs.  
  • Climate. The climate in Vanuatu is tough. Tropical cyclones and other natural disasters occur regularly in the region. The six months between November and April can be especially dangerous. In 2015, cyclone Pam ruined 80% of the infrastructure on the islands. Recently, cyclones Judy and Kevin hit Vanuatu four days apart.

Reasons why you should visit Vanuatu notwithstanding these facts

Should the facts cited above restrain you from visiting Vanuatu? After all, you can obtain a Vanuatu passport by investment from the comfort of your home… There are some good reasons, however, why you should take a trip to Vanuatu even though you need almost two days to get there. The main reasons include the following ones:

  • British and French past of Vanuatu and Chinese present. In the capital city of Port Vila sitting on the island of Efate, you can find numerous traces of the colonial past. The British and the French used to govern the islands together until 1980 when Vanuatu became an independent country. The French have left multiple boulangerie’s (bakery-cafés) and the British have left missionary churches. At the same time, a large part of the city belongs to the Chinese at present who build casinos and restaurants there. (We must note, however, that the name ‘city’ does not exactly fit a place where less than 50,000 people live, which is the case with Port Vila.
  • Authentic culture. You will love finding yourself among the friendliest and the most hospitable people in the world and immersing in their culture. Go outside Port Vila and find the authentic culture of Vanuatu. The authenticity is found not only in the absence of traffic lights and speed limits in Vanuatu: it is important to follow the local Melanesian customs. On the island of Malecula, for example, natives often engage in ritual dancing and for some ceremonies, they put on traditional clothes. Malecula is also the place of the last registered act of cannibalism in Vanuatu that happened in 1969. A local man killed and ate his wife’s lover and then he ate his wife too. However, many people in the community were sympathetic with the man and the local chief decided not to punish him. Lelepa Island is nearby and the only UNESCO world heritage site in Vanuatu is found there. This is Feles Cave where Chief Roi Mata found his death. He wanted to put an end to tribal warfare but he was poisoned by his enemies. The site of his death has rock paintings showing whales, birds, and pigs. The animals have symbolic functions in Vanuatu as they are used for resolving disputes in the country.  
  • Cuisine. Most people in Vanuatu have gardens where they grow bananas, papaya, yams, cassava and many other crops. The crops help them make some additional money as they sell them at the roadside markets. You can buy ingredients or ready meals for instance, sticky yams soaked in coconut milk and wrapped in a leaf.  The most popular drink in Vanuatu is Kava. It can be found everywhere on the islands and it has narcotic properties. Almost all islanders grow kava and the name translates from Latin as ‘heady pepper’. There were times when only chiefs drank Kava but today, most men on the island drink it regularly at home or in barrooms. The drink is also popular in other countries in the region but Kava from Vanuatu is the headiest one and it has a distinctive green color. It symbolizes peace and hospitality. The tradition requires that the guest should stand up, pour a drop of the drink on the ground (sharing it with the ancestors), and then drink the glass to the bottom. Kava tastes bitter and you’d better ‘chase’ it with a piece of watermelon. In rural areas, people start drinking Kava after 3 p.m. when men gather around ceremonial spots and start telling stories.
  • Volcanos. The most popular excursion in Vanuatu is a tour to Yasur volcano. This is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. If it were easy to get to the volcano, the excursion would become even more popular. You can drive most of the way to the top of the volcano but some hiking is also going to be required closer to the end of the trip if you want to reach the crater. The road to the crater passes villages with thatched house roofs and thick forests. Afterwards, you get to an ash plateau covered with patches of feldspar and brown pumice crusts. Yasur has been erupting non-stop for 870 years already. Captain Cook, the famous explorer, reported that the volcano was smoking in 1774. Today, it still emits ash and lava. Local guides say that most tourists find that the view from the top of the volcano makes you feel as if you were in a Jurassic park. You can hear the volcano roar and the sound is similar to the sound of cannon fire. With the persistent odor of sulfur in the air, you can really feel as if you were in the trenches. When the night comes, the crater becomes blood red and it spits lava. Yasur means ‘god’ and the islanders used to make sacrifices to the volcano: they brought pigs and chicken and prayed for luck. Tanna Island where the volcano is located is not very well developed. At the same time, you can still find a few guesthouses on the island. There you can also find a village whose residents worship Prince Philippe.

Vanuatu is a remote country indeed. It is on the other side of the globe for most people! If you find yourself in East Australia, Vanuatu is going to be within reach and you should definitely take a trip there to meet the people who stoically greet cyclones with a smile. If you have visited Vanuatu, we would certainly like to hear your story!

Professional assistance in acquiring citizenship of Vanuatu

Against the background of the current political turmoil, the economic citizenship programs are becoming more and more popular. How can you feel safe when military conflicts are taking place in different parts of the world? A second passport is a must-have today if you can afford it.

Please don’t rush to ‘buy’ foreign citizenship, however. As the popularity of citizenship-by-investment programs is growing, so is the number of fraudsters. Offshore Pro Group has been working in the investment immigration industry for years and we know all the ins and outs of it. Please apply for a free consultation on obtaining second citizenship and request out professional assistance in the matter.

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