What Is The Ethnic Composition Of Vanuatu?

Vanuatu's men dancing in traditional costume with tourists on Mystery Island. Editorial credit: EA Given / Shutterstock.com

Vanuatu is a Melanesian archipelago that comprises of 83 islands. It was formerly known as the New Hebrides. The country is famous for its astounding linguistic diversity. The population of Vanuatu is approximately 299,882. The majority of the population lives in the rural parts of the country. Vanuatu's ethnic groups comprise of Ni-Vanuatu and non-Melanesians (Europeans, Asians, and other Pacific Islanders).

The Ethnic Composition Of Vanuatu


The indigenous Ni-Vanuatu is the largest ethnic group in Vanuatu and comprise 99.2% of the country’s total population. This ethnic group predominantly Melanesian. Melanesia is an area located north of Australia and includes the nations of Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Nauru, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia. The Ni-Vanuatu are closely associated with the other Melanesian ethnic groups in the region. Most of the Ni-Vanuatu live in the country’s capital which is Port Vila while others live in Luganville and the rural parts of the country. The indigenous ni-Vanuatu speak a variety of languages and have 105 local dialects. Approximately 20,000 ni-Vanuatu are found in New Zealand and Australia.

Non-Melanesians In Vanuatu

The non-Melanesians are ethnic groups living in Vanuatu that are not native to the land. They comprise 0.8% of the country’s population which translates to approximately 2,000 people. Non-Melanesians in Vanuatu include Europeans, Asians such as the Chinese, Vietnamese, and other indigenous groups from neighboring countries. The latter include Futunans, i-Kiribati, and Wallisians. These native groups occupied Vanuatu in the condominium years in search of employment at the plantations. The i-Kiribati (also known as Gilbertese), migrated into Vanuatu in the early 1960s. These communities experienced many difficulties in obtaining Vanuatu citizenship and work permits prior to their settlement in the country. Majority of the Europeans who live in Vanuatu are British and French.

What Is The Ethnic Composition Of Vanuatu?

RankEthnicity% of total population

More in Society