Republic of Vanuatu
November 26

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Area 12,190 Twelve larger and 70 smaller islands southeast of the Solomon Islands in the SW Pacific. Formerly New Hebrides.

Population Ann.Gr. Density
2000 190,417 +2.44% 16 per sq. km.
2010 239,668 +2.28% 20 per sq. km.
2025 319,146 +1.70% 26 per sq. km.

Capital Vila 31,800 on Efate Island. Urbanites 20%.


Ni-Vanuatu 98.6%. Melanesian(102) 182,000; Polynesian(3) 4,000.

Caucasian 1%; mainly English- and French-speaking.

Other Pacific Islanders 0.4%. Wallisians, Fijians, Tongans, I-Kiribati, etc.

Literacy 53%. Official languages Bislama (Pidgin English), English, French. All languages 109, but only 36 local languages are spoken by more than 1,000 people. Languages with Scriptures 4Bi 5NT 29por 15w.i.p.


Over 80% of the population is involved in subsistence agriculture. Main exports are copra, beef, timber, cocoa. Vanuatu is becoming a noted tax haven and tourist destination. HDI 0.627; 116th/174. Public debt 16% of GNP. Income/person $1,290 (4% of USA).


Bizarre Anglo-French Condominium 1914-1980 with duplicated administration, police and education. Independent in 1980 as a parliamentary republic but politics still affected by the impact of dual colonialism with tensions between Francophone and Anglophone political parties. Recent years have been politically stable.


There is religious freedom.

Religions Population % Adherents Ann.Gr.
Christian 91.14 173,546 +2.7%
Traditional ethnic 3.00 5,713 -3.3%
Cargo cults 2.70 5,141 +0.3%
Baha'i 2.60 4,951 +4.1%
non-Religious/other 0.50 952 +2.4%
Chinese/Buddhist 0.06 114 -7.6%

Christians Denom. Affil.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Protestant 7 55.72 106 +3.6%
Independent 5 1.88 4 +7.2%
Anglican 1 16.02 30 +2.1%
Catholic 1 14.70 28 +1.5%
Marginal 8 3.41 6 +2.8%
Unaffiliated   1.87 4 n.a.
Doubly affiliated   -2.47 -5 n.a.

Churches MegaBloc Cong. Members Affiliates
Presbyterian P 400 40,000 57,000
Ch of Melanesia A 203 21,329 30,500
Catholic C 18 17,000 28,000
Assemblies of God P 77 12,001 20,000
Seventh-day Adventist P 47 13,253 19,000
Chs of Christ P 63 3,150 6,300
Apostolic P 31 1,400 2,800
Free Evangelical I 20 1,184 1,800
Latter-day Saints (Morm) M 4 420 600
Other denoms [13]   91 3,650 8,700
Doubly affiliated     -2,350 -4,700
Total Christians [22]   954 111,000 170,000

Trans-bloc Groupings pop. % ,000 Ann.Gr.


60 +4.5%


27 +8.8%


24 +10.1%

Missionaries from Vanuatu
P,I,A 7 in 3 agencies to 5 countries.

Missionaries to Vanuatu
P,I,A 34 in 8 agencies from 5 countries: USA 14, Australia 12.

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Answers to Prayer

1 There have recently been significant turnings to Christ from the John Frum cargo cultists. (These cults emerged as a result of World War II and a belief that ship- and plane-loads of supplies would come from 'John from' America.) The trigger for this was the ministry of a YWAM mercy ship.

2 The whole Bible in Bislama was published in 1998 after 30 years of work. Pray for its effective use.

Challenges for Prayer

1 Vanuatu's motto is "In God we stand". Pray that the leaders of this complex little nation may be an example in doing so. Christians played a major role in the attainment of independence and in subsequent governments.

2 The Protestant church is numerically strong – mainly Anglicans in the north and Presbyterians in the centre and south. Some islands have been touched by revival and the AoG has grown rapidly; however, in other islands spiritual life is at a low ebb, few having heard a clear gospel presentation. Pray for the training of leaders in the AoG, Church of Christ, Anglican, Apostolic and two Presbyterian Bible colleges. Pray for Spirit-filled leaders who know how to apply Scripture to life.

3 Missionary martyrs in evangelizing these islands have been many. Today the Church welcomes missionaries in a supportive role for teaching the Word; the largest agencies are SIL (12 workers), Australian Churches of Christ (10), and US AoG (2). Pioneer work is also still needed for a number of smaller, superficially evangelized peoples, especially in Bible translation and literacy work.

4 The spiritual challenges for Christians:

a) There are pockets of traditional ethnic religion on Tanna, Aniwa, Santo, Vao and other islands.

b) There are many who still follow 'custom' or have been led astray by cargo cults.

c) How to counteract increased Mormon missionary activity.

d) Muslim missionaries are active in setting up mosques and offering free schooling.

Pray for decisive demonstrations of God's power and of holy-living Christians that will win the rising generation of Ni-Vanuatu.

5 Bible translation, vernacular literacy and training Ni-Vanuatu are major ongoing tasks. At least 20, and probably more, languages require NT translations or revisions. UBS and SIL are involved in 13 projects. Pray for wisdom as to which of the small language groups warrant the effort, and for Bible translation/literacy teams of expatriates and people from Vanuatu.

6 Christian media:

a) GRN have increased their range of recordings to 63 language. Pray that this medium may be well-used in this polyglot nation.

b) The JESUS film is being widely shown in Bislama.

c) EHC have seen good response since 1986 to their nation-wide literature distribution campaign.

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