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An island country of the southern Pacific Ocean east of northern Australia. Inhabited primarily by Melanesian peoples, the islands were sighted by the Portuguese in 1606 and explored by Capt. James Cook, who named them "New Hebrides," in 1774. Under joint French and British control after 1906, New Hebrides achieved independence as Vanuatu in 1980. Port Vila, on Efate Island, is the capital.
Van′ua·tu′an adj. & n.
(Placename) a republic comprising a group of islands in the W Pacific, W of Fiji: a condominium under Anglo-French joint rule from 1906; attained partial autonomy in 1978 and full independence in 1980 as a member of the Commonwealth. Its economy is based chiefly on copra. Official languages: Bislama; French; English. Religion: Christian majority. Currency: vatu. Capital: Vila (on Efate). Pop: 261 565 (2013 est). Area: about 14 760 sq km (5700 sq miles). Official name: Republic of Vanuatu Former name (until 1980): New Hebrides
Va•nu•a•tu(ˌvɑ nuˈɑ tu)
a republic consisting of a group of islands in the SW Pacific, W of Fiji: formerly under joint British and French administration; gained independence in 1980. 189,036; ab. 4707 sq. mi. (12,190 sq. km). Cap.: Vila. Formerly, New Hebrides.
Va`nu•a′tu•an, adj., n.