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Womtelo Map-Banks-Vanuatu 1000.png
Location of Merelava in the Banks Islands
Location Pacific Ocean
Coordinates 14°27′S 168°03′E / 14.45°S 168.05°E / -14.45; 168.05Coordinates: 14°27′S 168°03′E / 14.45°S 168.05°E / -14.45; 168.05
Archipelago Vanuatu, Banks Islands
Province Torba Province
Population 650 (2009)

Merelava (or Mere Lava) is an island in the Banks Islands of northern Vanuatu.

It is situated in the southeastern part of the archipelago near Mota and Merig. The island is administratively part of Torba Province. Merelava has also been known as Star Island. It is located about 50 kilometres (31 miles) east of Gaua.


Merelava was first sighted by Europeans during the Spanish expedition of Pedro Fernández de Quirós, from 25 to 29 April 1606. The island’s name was then charted as San Marcos.[1]

Population and language[edit]

The island has about 650 inhabitants.[2] They all speak an Oceanic language known as Mwerlap or Merlav.[3]


The inhabitants of Merelava call their own island Mwerlap, phonetically [ŋʷɞrlap], in the language of the same name.

The name Merelava (sometimes wrongly transcribed Mere Lava) reflects the way it is called in the neighbouring Mota language, phonetically [ŋ͡mʷereˈlaβa].


  1. ^ Kelly, Celsus, O.F.M. La Austrialia del Espíritu Santo. The Journal of Fray Martín de Munilla O.F.M. and other documents relating to the Voyage of Pedro Fernández de Quirós to the South Sea (1605-1606) and the Franciscan Missionary Plan (1617-1627) Cambridge, 1966, p.39, 62.
  2. ^ "2009 National Census of Population and Housing: Summary Release" (PDF). Vanuatu National Statistics Office. 2009. Retrieved October 11, 2010. 
  3. ^ François (2005:444)


External links[edit]