And Now Vanuatu

On January 12, 2010 · Comments Off on And Now Vanuatu

I love it when a new visitor arrives on the Twelve Mile Circle from a geographic location previously unrepresented. It offers me an opportunity to focus on another spot on the globe while simultaneously carving a new notch on my visitor map. The South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu checked in today.

Some of you are probably thinking, “enough with the visitors already… let’s get back to the geo-oddities” and for those folks I’ll offer a few words of comfort: unrepresented countries on this website have become increasingly obscure so the chance of recording new visitors decreases correspondingly, meaning, I’ll have fewer opportunities to do this in the future. Also, I have plenty of oddities sitting in the hopper waiting for articles to be written. No worries, we’ll get back to them. In the meantime I hope you’ll forgive my relentless need to count things.



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Vanuatu occupies a volcanic archipelago situated northeast of Australia, southeast of New Guinea and west of Fiji. It became the Republic of Vanuatu (Ripablik blong Vanuatu), an independent nation, in 1980. For much of the Twentieth Century however it was known as the New Hebrides and it was administered through one of the rarest forms of government in existence, a condominium. That’s a situation where two or more sovereign nations share equal domain over a single territory.

A Condominium is an unwieldy form of government that often breaks down under its own weight which is why so few of them exist today in any meaningful form. We’ve discussed a couple of these previously including one between Luxembourg and Germany and another between France and Spain. However it reached particular heights of absurdity in the New Hebrides.

That has all been left in the past now although English and French continue to be official languages along with Bislama (a form of Creole English). They all compete with over 100 indigenous languages spread along the archipelago, a place "with the highest density of languages per capita in the world."

The total population of Vanuatu is only about 250,000 strung along four primary islands and lots of its 80 smaller islands. It’s also pretty small geographically with 12,189 square kilometres of land, placing Vanuatu at 163rd on the list of nations by size (that’s slightly larger than the U.S. state of Connecticut for the benefit of my blogger friend from CTMQ). It’s amazing that a visitor from Vanuatu came to the website considering that it’s home to a small, primarily non-English speaking nation that’s distributed among a string of islands that probably have minimal Internet connectivity outside of a handful of the larger towns.

Specifically my mystery visitor arrived from a location in Port Vila, the capital city.



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Port Vila is also the largest city in Vanuatu with a population of probably 30,000-40,000 people. It is also the economic engine for the nation. A campus of the University of the South Pacific is located there, which undoubtedly hosts a number of well-educated, English-proficient students. It also contains the seat of government as well as commercial centers which would imply a higher probability of English speakers at least as a secondary language. Port Vila would be a logical guess for a website visitor from Vanuatu, and indeed that’s the case.

On January 12, 2010 · Comments Off on And Now Vanuatu

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12 Mile Circle:
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