Vanuatu Country Report
Vanuatu's political atmosphere is turbulent – politicians regularly defect to rival parties, and no-confidence votes against leaders are frequent. Prime Minister Charlot Salwai, heading the Unity for Change coalition, came to power in February 2016 and has survived several no-confidence votes. The economy is heavily reliant on tourism and agriculture, with beef and cattle providing the most important export industry. The country's narrow economic base imposes limitations, but heightened foreign investment is possible, particularly as Vanuatu's tax environment is geared towards the offshore business market. Vanuatu remains vulnerable to natural disasters. In September 2017 the eruption of the Manaro volcano forced the evacuation of 11,000 people from Ambae Island, placing thecountry in a state of emergency. The risk of crime is low but increasing, particularly in urban areas.
Vanuatu's government welcomes development, but the poor state of the country's transport infrastructure remains a key operational constraint. Corruption is an enduring problem, and there is a significant risk of donor aid being subject to mismanagement. Political influence over the oversized bureaucracy, for example, in the distribution of diplomatic passports or the allocation of land leases, is a recurrent issue. Vanuatu's workforce is largely engaged in subsistence agriculture; union activity is permitted but is rare in practice. Natural disasters are also an occasional occurrence and can cause major damage to infrastructure.
There have been no recorded terrorist incidents in the recent past, and Vanuatu's isolated geographic position ensures that the risk of terrorism will remain very low over the next two years.
The risk of interstate war will remain very low with Vanuatu having good relations with its neighbours. Rivalries within the police force continue to undermine its effectiveness but are unlikely to threaten state stability. There is a low risk of tribal violence.
There is a moderate risk of civil unrest over the next year. Strikes and protests in the capital Port Vila centred on tribal, labour, and land disputes are the key sources of instability. Government offices and Chinese-owned businesses are likely targets.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
No vaccinations are required to enter the country.
Hepatitis A : a vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B : a vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio : a booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Typhoid Fever : if your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
For Children : all standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
Malaria, recommended preventive medication : mefloquine (sometimes marketed as Lariam) or doxycycline (sometimes marketed as Doxypalu).
The country is located along an active volcanic belt (situated in the Pacific “Ring of Fire”) and frequently experiences earthquakes (e.g. a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck on May 27, 2010; a magnitude 6.0 earthquake that struck on August 6, 2013) and tidal waves. In June 2011, Mount Yasur (on Tanna Island) entered a phase of intense volcanic activity. In early September 2014, two of the archipelago’s most active volcanoes erupted, leading to concern among local authorities who subsequently raised the alert level for areas near Mount Ambrym (1334 meters) from 1 to 2, while Ambae volcano (northeast; 1500 meters) emitted large quantities of gases.
Cyclones (between November and April) and typhoons (between January and April) regularly strike the archipelago. There are regular reports of sharks around the islands of Espiritu Santo and Malakula.
Foreign visitors should note that roads are only paved on the islands of Efate and Espiritu Santo. Due to geographic constraints, the majority of travel within the country is done by boat ‒ which can be unsafe ‒ or by air.
Vanuatu has a tropical climate. During the summer (November to March) the average temperature is 28°C and conditions are hot and humid. Winter lasts from April to October and the average high is 23°C; cyclones sometimes strike during this period.
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