Vanuatu is a volcanic island chain in the south west Pacific Ocean, between Fiji and New Caledonia. There are about 84 islands with a total land area of 12,189 square kilometres reaching 900 km in a north-south direction.
The capital of Vanuatu is Port Vila, on the island of Efate. As you can see from the space photograph of Efate, most of the islands are lush green tropical forest. Except for two urban areas, Port Vila and Luganville on Santo, the ni-Vanuatu people live in rural villages.
Security, peace, a sense of wonder at the scenic splendour of nature, garnished with a culture that goes back thousands of years. These are some of the reasons people come from Europe, Asia, the United States, Australia and New Zealand to visit or live in Vanuatu.
The people of Vanuatu are Melanesians and have a very strong and enduring attachment to their islands and their environment. In the more remote islands the people still follow their ancestral traditions and their artwork, dances, music, and dress will transport you to an era before the concept of time began.
Their sense of community and culture give the ni-Vanuatu people a kind of peace and friendliness that extends to visitors and residents from other lands. They are, in a word, nice.
Most of the small and widely distributed population (there are about 170,000 people living in the Republic of Vanuatu) are natives living in villages with their extended families. The expatriate community is only a few thousand individuals, many of whom have been here for generations.
The ni-Vanuatu people are multilingual. Everyone speaks their own village language plus the universal Bislama, an English/French pidgin that you will quickly pick up. Most of the people also speak English and French.
The people of Vanuatu love beauty and friendship. A genuine smile is one of Vanuatu's most valued currencies and is freely traded everywhere.
There is so much to appreciate everywhere you go. On Saturday, in Port Vila, walk to the village market to enjoy an impromptu show of the most beautiful flowers you have ever seen. Then shop through benches overflowing with fresh, organically grown vegetables.
You simply won't believe the size and wonderful taste of the papaya's, pineapples, bananas and avocados.
Corn, lettuce, pumpkins, peanuts, tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers, are heaped between the more exotic Vanuatu fruits and vegetables like soursop, sugar apples, nauli nuts, dozens of varieties of peppers, taro and cassava. All the locally grown produce is very reasonably priced.
The local supermarkets - within an easy stroll of Waterfront Quays, have an excellent selection of imported French, Australian and New Zealand foods.
Locally grown beef is the most delicious and tender you have ever tasted and the prices will delight you as well.
Vanuatu's seas are filled with tuna, mackerel, mahi-mahi, sailfish, marlin, and a host of other fish, lobsters and crabs that appear regularly at the markets.
The wines and spirits come from around the world and are of the very best quality.
And if you don't feel much like cooking yourself Port Vila has a wonderful array of fine restaurants - with one of the best (the Waterfront Bar & Grill) right next door.
The European and Asian community of people living in Port Vila is very much oriented towards outdoor activities.
There are beaches to visit, trails to walk, volcanoes to see, wrecks to dive on, coral reefs to photograph, sailboats to race, tennis, golf, marathon races and fish to catch.
If you want some really fascinating adventure, visit the outer islands -
Some of the smaller islands - like Tongoa - have marvellous coral reefs to dive on.
Tanna and Ambrym have live volcanoes. You can walk right up to the crater rim and look down into the molten lava and see the earth being created.
Moto Lava in the northern Banks Islands have some of the most astonishing custom dances you could ever imagine.
If you are planning to visit or move to Vanuatu be sure to order the Rocket Guide to Vanuatu; the most complete travel planner for Vanuatu ever produced.
If you decide to become a permanent resident of Vanuatu the procedure is not very complex and there are several firms in Port Vila that can handle the entire process for you.