Vanuatu, country in the south western Pacific Ocean, consisting of a chain of 13 principal and many smaller islands located about 500 miles (800 km) west of Fiji and 1,100 miles (1,770 km) east of Australia.
The islands extend north-south for some 400 miles (650 km) in an irregular Y shape. The Torres Islands are the northernmost group. Southward from the Torres group, the main islands are Vanua Lava and Santa Maria (Gaua) in the Banks Islands group, Espiritu Santo, Aoba (Ambae), Maéwo, Pentecost, Malakula, Ambrym, Épi, Éfaté, Erromango, Tanna, and Anatom.
Some 200 miles (320 km) to the southeast of Anatom, two uninhabited islands, Hunter and Matthew, are claimed by both Vanuatu and France (as part of New Caledonia).
Formerly the jointly administered Anglo-French condominium of the New Hebrides, Vanuatu achieved independence in 1980. The name Vanuatu means “Our Land Forever” in many of the locally used Melanesian languages. The capital, largest city, and commercial centre is Port-Vila (Vila), on Éfaté.