Map of Malakula
|Area||2,041 km2 (788 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||879 m (2,884 ft)|
|Population||30,000 (as of 2000)|
|Density||14.7 /km2 (38.1 /sq mi)|
Malakula Island (coordinates Vanuatu, in the Pacific Ocean region of Melanesia. There is an urban myth that the name was coined by James Cook, and was apparently derived from the French mal au cul (literally, 'pain in the arse'). This was allegedly inspired by the presence of cannibals, volcanic activity and other unpleasant features of the island at the time of its discovery. Captain Cook, however, recorded that the inhabitants called the island Mallicollo and the 'pain in the arse' etymology is presumably a sailors derivation from the original name.), also spelled Malekula, is the second-largest island in the nation of
It is separated from the islands of Espiritu Santo and Malo by the Bougainville Strait. Lakatoro, capital of Malampa Province, is situated on its eastern shore and is the largest settlement in the island. On the northeastern side of the island there is a group of islands called Small Islands, amongst them (from N to S) Vao, Atchin, Wala (island), Rano (island), Norsup, Uripiv and Uri (island).
During 1914 and 1915 the British anthropologist John Layard lived on the island taking anthropological notes as well as phononographic and photographic records during his fieldwork. On his return to Britain he donated copies of the more than 400 photographs on plates to the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge.
According to the latest census information, from 2000, Malakula has a population of over 30,000 inhabitants.
There are nearly thirty different languages spoken on the island. The two tribes living are Big Nambas in the North and the Small Nambas in the central part of the southern area, whose names stem from the size of the penis sheath they wear, made out of banana or pandanus leaves.
It was, until recently, the culture to bind infants' skulls to alter the shape of their heads. Cone-shaped skulls were said to be a sign of higher social status.
Malakula's economy is largely based on agriculture with extensive copra plantations on the eastern coastal plains around Norsup and Lakatoro. In 1939, a copra cooperative was set up at Matanvat in northern Malakula. In no time, it took on some of the cargo cult traits, up until 1950, after which it returned to its original purpose, copra production. Today, the largest copra-producing plantation in Vanuatu is located at Norsup.
Lakatoro has more stores, a market house, a National Bank of Vanuatu branch, an Air Vanuatu office, the main wharf and it is the administrative centre for MALAMPA province (Malekula, Ambrym, Paama). Norsup has the provincial hospital. Both Norsup and Lakatoro have telephones and 24 hour electricity.
The interior of Malekula is mountainous, rugged and forest-covered with good walking and bird watching. There are old cannibal sites hidden in the bush on north Malekula, but at many the bones and skulls have been removed or buried. The Maskelynes and the small offshore islands along the east coast of Malekula have sand beaches and coral reefs with good snorkeling and diving.
Lakatoro is Malekula's road transport hub. The best place to find trucks is at the Lakatoro Trading Centre. There are several trucks along the northeast coast as far as Vao.
- Haidy Geismar and Anita Herle: Moving images. John Layard, fieldwork and photography on Malakula since 1914, Crawford House Publishing Australia, Aelaide, South Australia, 2009 ISBN 978-1-86333-319-1
- in Bislama language
- John Layard long Malakula 1914 - 1915, Vanuatu Cultural Centre
- Kerr, Robert (1824). A General History and Collection of Voyages 14. Retrieved 2013-02-10.
- Malekula, Vanuatu – island travel, accommodation, culture, reefs, beaches, rivers, forests
- Rienzi, M.L. Historia de la Oceanía, o quinta parte del mundo Barcelona, 1845-1846, vol IV, p.107
- Languages of Malakula
- Malakula island of Vanuatu
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