Port Vila

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Port Vila
Capital City
Aerial view of central Port Vila
Aerial view of central Port Vila
Flag of Port Vila
Flag
Port Vila is located in Vanuatu
Port Vila
Port Vila
Location in Vanuatu
Coordinates: 17°45′S 168°18′E / 17.750°S 168.300°E / -17.750; 168.300Coordinates: 17°45′S 168°18′E / 17.750°S 168.300°E / -17.750; 168.300
Country  Vanuatu
Province Shefa Province
Island Efate
Government
 • Mayor Ulrich Sumptoh
Population (2009)
 • Total 44,040
Time zone VUT (UTC+11)

Port Vila /ˌpɔərt ˈvlə/ is the capital and largest city of Vanuatu.

Its population in the last census (2009) was 44,040,[1] 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. The current mayor is Ulrich Sumptoh, of the Union of Moderate Parties, elected in January 2014; his deputy is Leimara Malachi, of the Vanua'aku Pati.[2]

History[edit]

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 BC.

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.[3]

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.

Economy and Transportation[edit]

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. Air Vanuatu has its head office in the Vanuatu House in Port Vila.[4]

Major industries in the city remain agriculture and fishing. Tourism is also becoming important, especially from Australia and New Zealand. There were over 50,000 visitors in 1997.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

Demographics[edit]

The population is around 45,000; predominately Melanesian, with small Polynesian, Asian, Australian and European populations, mainly French and British.

Language[edit]

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.

Religion[edit]

Christianity is the predominant religion across Vanuatu, followed by more than 90% of the population. The largest denomination is the Presbyterian Church in Vanuatu, followed by one third of the population. Roman Catholicism and the Church of Melanesia are also common, each about 15%. Cathédrale du Sacré-Coeur is a modern Roman Catholic cathedral in Port Vila. The seat of the Diocese of Port Vila,[5] the church is dedicated to the sacred heart of Joan of Arc.[6]

Climate[edit]

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
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 32
(90)
32
(90)
34
(93)
31
(88)
29
(84)
30
(86)
30
(86)
29
(84)
29
(84)
29
(84)
30
(86)
31
(88)
34
(93)
Average high °C (°F) 28
(82)
29
(84)
29
(84)
27
(81)
26
(79)
25
(77)
24
(75)
24
(75)
24
(75)
26
(79)
27
(81)
28
(82)
26.4
(79.5)
Average low °C (°F) 23
(73)
23
(73)
23
(73)
22
(72)
21
(70)
19
(66)
19
(66)
18
(64)
19
(66)
20
(68)
21
(70)
22
(72)
20.8
(69.4)
Record low °C (°F) 19
(66)
19
(66)
18
(64)
16
(61)
15
(59)
14
(57)
14
(57)
12
(54)
13
(55)
13
(55)
16
(61)
17
(63)
12
(54)
Precipitation mm (inches) 257
(10.12)
272
(10.71)
282
(11.1)
338
(13.31)
244
(9.61)
127
(5)
158
(6.22)
125
(4.92)
99
(3.9)
137
(5.39)
165
(6.5)
201
(7.91)
2,405
(94.69)
Avg. rainy days 12 12 11 13 9 9 9 5 7 8 7 10 112
 % humidity 87 88 87 85 82 82 83 80 81 82 83 86 83.8
Source: BBC Weather[7]

Culture and Sights[edit]

The capital of Vanuatu has various sights to offer. There are several memorials, e.g. opposite the Parliament where two traditional totem poles and a monument representing a pig's tusk can be seen. The Presbyterian Church of Port Vila is an impressive and sightworthy building opposite the Independence Park. A colourful wall painting can be seen on the administration building opposite the market hall. Another noteworthy wall painting is on the façade of the post office. The City Hall of Port Vila is an oblong and sightworthy building on a hill in the city center.

The Vanuatu Cultural Centre[edit]

The Vanuatu Cultural Centre, hosting the Vanuatu National Museum, is located at the Saralana Park in front of the national parliament, close to the National Library and the Malvatumauri (Vanuatu National Council of Chiefs). This institution is an important place for the preservation and promotion of the different aspects of the local culture. Traditional artifacts from several islands are on display in the museum. The centre host also the National Audiovisual Archives which is the most important fund of documents from the late 19th century until today.

Cityscape
Presbyterian Church 
Wall painting opposite the market 
Vanuatu Parliament 
Memorial opposite the Parliament 
Port Vila market 
Port Vila post office. The building once marked the unofficial demarcation between the two sectors of Port Vila, the British Paddock to the south and the Quartier français to the north 
Port Vila natural harbour as viewed from town looking out at sea with Iririki Island to the left 
City Hall, Port Vila 

Government[edit]

The municipality of Port Vila is divided into four wards and administered by a council consisting of 14 members. The four wards are

  1. Malapoa-Tagabe: Western and far northern neighborhoods
  2. Anabrou-Melcofe-Tassiriki: Northern and eastern neighborhoods
  3. Centre: Nambawan and Seaside neighborhoods
  4. South: Nambatu, Nambatri, and Elluk neighborhoods

Malapoa-Tagabe and South are alotted three representatives each to the Council while Anabrou-Melcofe-Tassiriki and Centre have four.[8]

The municipality handles primary education, primary healthcare, regional planning, road maintenance/construction, trash collection, cemeteries, parks and open spaces and the promotion of tourism.

Education[edit]

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.

World Heritage[edit]

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.[9]

Constituency[edit]

Port Vila is one of the eighteen constituencies in Vanuatu, and elects six Members of Parliament. Following the 2008 general election, its representatives are:[10]

Member Party
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
Ralph Regenvanu Independent

Sister cities[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Vanuatu National Statistics Office 2009, The 2009 Vanuatu National Population And Housing Census, Government of Vanuatu, Port Vila.
  2. ^ "New mayor for Vanuatu's Port Vila", Radio New Zealand International, 27 January 2014
  3. ^ "Wee, Small Republics: A Few Examples of Popular Government," Hawaiian Gazette, 1 Nov 1895, p1
  4. ^ "Contact Us." Air Vanuatu. Retrieved 22 June 2010.
  5. ^ "Cathédrale du Sacré-Coeur". GCatholic.org. Retrieved 9 May 2013. 
  6. ^ Les Missions catholiques (in French). 1938. p. 294. Retrieved 9 May 2013. 
  7. ^ "BBC Weather Port Vila". BBC News. Retrieved 24 July 2011. 
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ Second World Heritage Global Strategy Meeting for the Pacific, Port Vila (Vanuatu) 24–27 August 1999
  10. ^ "Members of the 9th Legislature of Parliament", Parliament of Vanuatu
  11. ^ "Port Vila strengthens sister agreement with Luganville". Vanuatu Daily Post. 26 September 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2013. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Port Vila at Wikimedia Commons