Port Vila /ˌpɔərt ˈviːlə/ is the capital and largest city of Vanuatu. Its population in the last census (2009) was 44,040, an increase of 50% on the previous census result (29,356 in 1999). In 2009, the population of Port Vila formed 18.8% of the country's population.
Situated on the south coast of the island of Efate, in Shefa Province, Port Vila is the economic and commercial centre of Vanuatu. Having won elections in 2005, as of 2008, Paul Avock Hungai is its mayor.
The area occupied by Port Vila has been inhabited by Melanesian people for thousands of years. In Autumn of 2004, an archaeological expedition known as Teouma discovered a burial site of 25 tombs containing three dozen skeletons of members of the Lapita culture. Pieces of ceramics found at the site were dated to the 13th century B.C.E.
In May of 1606, the first Europeans arrived at the island, led by Pedro Fernández de Quirós and Luis Váez de Torres. In the 19th century when the islands were known as the New Hebrides, the British possessed economic control of the zone, though by the end of 1880, the economic balance began to favor the French; this transition can be seen in its nickel mines of New Caledonia and plantations. French citizen Ferdinand Chevillard began buying and clearing land around Port Vila to be converted into the largest French plantation on the island. Instead, it was converted into the municipality of Franceville, which declared independence on August 9, 1889, though this only lasted until June of the following year. It was the first self-governing nation to practice universal suffrage without distinction of sex or race. Although the population at the time consisted of about 500 native islanders and less than 50 whites, only the latter were permitted to hold office. One of the elected presidents was a U.S. citizen by birth, R.D. Polk, a relative of American president James K. Polk.
After 1887, the territory was jointly administered by the French and the British. This was formalized in 1906 as an Anglo-French Condominium. During World War II, Port Vila was an American and Australian airbase. In 1987, cyclone Uma severely damaged the city. A powerful earthquake in January 2002 caused extensive damage in the capital and surrounding areas.
Port Vila is Vanuatu's most important harbour and the centre of the country's trade. The international airport, Bauerfield International (VLI) is also located in the city.
Vanuatu is a tax haven, and offshore financing in Port Vila is an important part of the economy.
Vanuatu is still dependent on foreign aid, most of which comes from Australia and New Zealand, although in recent years aid has also come from the People's Republic of China. Examples of aid have been New Zealand paying to train doctors selected from the local community, then paying part of their wages during the first year after qualification. Australia has paid consultants to work in Port Vila Central Hospital.
35.7% of exports leave from Port Vila and 86.9% of imports arrive in Port Vila.
The population is around 38,000; predominately Melanesian, with small Polynesian, Asian, Australian and European populations, mainly French and British.
Bislama is spoken by everyone as the day-to-day language. In addition, English and French are also widespread. Other Indigenous languages are also spoken in the city.
Christianity is the predominant religion across Vanuatu, followed by more than 90% of the population. The largest denomination is the Presbyterian Church, followed by one third of the population. Roman Catholicism and the Church of Melanesia are also common, each about 15%.
Port Vila has a tropical climate, with a dry season and a hot, wet season. Rainfall averages about 2,360 millimetres (94 in.) per year, and the wettest month is April. The driest month is September. There are 113 wet days in an average year. The area also has south-east trade winds. Temperatures do not vary very much at all throughout the year, and the record high is 34 C (93.2 F). The coldest month, August, has an average high of 24 C (75.2 F), and an average low of 18 C (64.4 F). The hottest month, February, has an average high of 29 C (84.2 F) and an average low of 23 C (73.4 F). The record low for Port Vila is 12 C (53.6 F). Humidity is often high.
|Climate data for Port Vila, Vanuatu|
|Record high °C (°F)||32 |
|Average high °C (°F)||28 |
|Average low °C (°F)||23 |
|Record low °C (°F)||19 |
|Precipitation mm (inches)||257 |
|Avg. rainy days||12||12||11||13||9||9||9||5||7||8||7||10||112|
|Source: BBC Weather|
Port Vila is one location of the University of the South Pacific, an educational institution co-owned by twelve Pacific countries. The Vanuatu campus is the only law school in the university, and it also teaches languages.
Port Vila was the location in August 1999 for the important UNESCO meeting ”2nd World Heritage Global Strategy Meeting for the Pacific Islands Region”. One of the major topics with reference to Vanuatu and the Pacific region was the question of the suitability of underwater heritage for inscription on the World Heritage List.
Port Vila is one of the eighteen constituencies in Vanuatu, and elects six Members of Parliament. Following the 2008 general election, its representatives are:
|Abel David||Shepherds Alliance|
|Edward Natapei||Vanua'aku Pati|
|Maxime Carlot Korman||Vanuatu Republican Party|
|Moana Carcasses Kalosil||Green Confederation|
|Patrick Crowby Manarewo||National United Party|
- Shanghai, People's Republic of China
- Vanuatu National Statistics Office 2009, The 2009 Vanuatu National Population And Housing Census, Government of Vanuatu, Port Vila.
- "Wee, Small Republics: A Few Examples of Popular Government," Hawaiian Gazette, 1 Nov 1895, p1
- "Contact Us." Air Vanuatu. Retrieved 22 June 2010.
- "BBC Weather Port Vila". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/weather/forecast/1967. Retrieved 24 July 2011.
- Second World Heritage Global Strategy Meeting for the Pacific, Port Vila (Vanuatu) 24–27 August 1999
- "Members of the 9th Legislature of Parliament", Parliament of Vanuatu