02/01/2005: Obscure Country of the Week V: Vanuatu
This week's Obscure Country is Vanuatu. (Previous Obscure Countries have
Vanuatu is an archipelago of eighty-three islands in the South Pacific, about a thousand miles east of Australia. Vanuatu was a joint colony of Britain and France, known then as "New Hebrides," until it was granted independence in 1980. It has a population of about 200,000, and its capital city is Port-Vila.
The three official languages of Vanuatu are English, French, and Bislama, a creole language. In addition, over one hundred local languages are spoken on the islands. The national anthem, "Yumi, Yumi, Yumi," (not to be confused with Yummy, Yummy, Yummy by Ohio Express) is in Bislama.
The primary economic activity is substistence agriculture. Other economic sectors include fishing, tourism, and offshore financial services. (Vanuatu serves as a tax haven, and does not report financial information to other governments or to law enforcement agencies.)
In November of 2004, then-Prime Minister Serge Vohor announced that his government would grant diplomatic recognition to Taiwan. Many senior officials objected, citing a need for Vanuatu to maintain ties with mainland China, and Vohor was ousted by a no-confidence vote in Parliament. His successor, Ham Lini, immediately reversed the decision, saying that Vanuatu "adheres to and respects the one-China policy."
Josh Parsons gives the flag of Vanuatu a C+ grade.
For more information on Vanuatu, see its Wikipedia entry, the CIA World Factbook, or its BBC Country Profile.
Disclaimer: the only criterion for being an Obscure Country of the Week is that I myself don't know much about it. This is an exercise in self-education as much as anything else.
Brock on 02.01.05 @ 07:14 PM CST