Vanuatu Independence Day

Vanuatu Independence Day

July 31
The most important national holiday in Vanuatu, Independence Day is celebrated throughout the country. It marks the end of colonial rule by the French and British. This archipelago of 83 islands is located about 1,000 miles northeast of Australia.
The first Europeans to visit Vanuatu were Spanish explorers in 1605, but it was the French who established the first permanent settlements in the 1850s. By the early 1900s, the islands were ruled under a joint French-British agreement. In the 1960s, secessionist ideas began to spread throughout the island chain, and in May 1980 an insurrection in Tanna brought the matter to the forefront. Self-rule came to Vanuatu in July of that same year. Father Walter Lini, a former Anglican priest, became the country's first prime minister.
The largest Independence Day celebrations take place in the capital city of Port Vila. A number of sporting events are held, as well as canoe and yacht races in the harbor. A military parade takes place in Independence Park. Dancing takes place and aerobics groups from throughout Vanuatu perform, and a string band competition is held.
CONTACTS:
Vanuatu Tourism Office—North America
995 Holly Ct.
Monteagle, TN 37356
931-924-5253; fax: 931-924-1866
www.vanuatutourism.com
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