Destination

South Pacific

Destination Vanuatu Paradise logo
29th edition
        2019

10

 

 

 

Population, culture

and customs

 

Since the days of the explorers, the local people
have remained deeply attached to their culture.
Nature is as generous as ever. In Vanuatu,
independent since July 1980, nothing seems
to have changed, or hardly...

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

10

 

 

Population

Estimated at approximatively 280,000 inhabitants, the population of Vanuatu is comprised of a majority of Melanesians and is 84% Catholic. Two thirds are distributed among the four main islands: Efate, Santo, Malekula and Tanna. A very young population, with 45% under 15 years.

Culture and customs

To the rhythm of centuries-old rites and celebrations, ancient culture is still very much alive. At the core of this culture,  

 

custom governs thesocial life, promotes respect and ensures law and order maintained within the community. 
The significance of custom is apparent in every major event – marriages, funerals, circumcisions, rites of passage. Singing and dancing are always part of everything. While the people ensure the upholding of traditions so future generations can also live in peace and harmony, these traditions have inevitably evolved with the passage
of time.
For instance, the nakamal, “the men’s meeting place”, where kava is served, is now opening up to women .

Traditional clothing

The “nambas”, or penis sheath, worn by men, is made from the bark or the leaves of the pandanus.
Women wear skirts made of leaves, woven mats or burao bark. These are the basic items of clothing, then depending on the ceremony, the people may also wear masks (sometimes made of backed clay
or tree ferns), head-dresses and ornaments.

 

Arts & Crafts

Varying from one island to
another, arts and crafts remain
very rich in Vanuatu. To a large
extent, it reflects life in the
olden days, through items of
daily use or used for custom
ceremonies.

Specialized shops and
galleries of Port-Vila offer
craftsmen’s fashion, jewellery,
wooden dishes depicting
stylised turtles, birds, fish,
intended for preparing food.
But also pestles, knives, clubs,
spears, bows. Most carvings
represent human faces.
Present everywhere , pottery is found today only on the western part of Santo. Women use their knees to mold the terracotta, round it up and give it a bowl shape. Basket weaving is still widespread, with women making mats, bags or baskets from pandanus and coconut leaves or bourao stems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Population, culture and customs

Since the days of the explorers, the local people have remained deeply attached to their culture.
Nature is as generous as ever. In Vanuatu, independent since July 1980, nothing seems to have changed, or hardly...

Population

Estimated at approximatively 280,000 inhabitants, the population of Vanuatu is comprised of a majority of Melanesians and is 84% Catholic. Two thirds are distributed among the four main islands: Efate, Santo, Malekula and Tanna. A very young population, with 45% under 15 years.

Culture and customs

To the rhythm of centuries-old rites and celebrations, ancient culture is still very much alive. At the core of this culture, custom governs thesocial life, promotes respect and ensures law and order maintained within the community. 
The significance of custom is apparent in every major event – marriages, funerals, circumcisions, rites of passage. Singing and dancing are always part of everything. While the people ensure the upholding of traditions so future generations can also live in peace and harmony, these traditions have inevitably evolved with the passage of time.
For instance, the nakamal, “the men’s meeting place”, where kava is served, is now opening up to women .

Traditional clothing

The “nambas”, or penis sheath, worn by men, is made from the bark or the leaves of the pandanus.
Women wear skirts made of leaves, woven mats or burao bark. These are the basic items of clothing, then depending on the ceremony, the people may also wear masks (sometimes made of backed clay or tree ferns), head-dresses and ornaments.

Arts & Crafts

Varying from one island to another, arts and crafts remain very rich in Vanuatu. To a large extent, it reflects life in the olden days, through items of daily use or used for custom ceremonies.
Specialized shops and galleries of Port-Vila offer craftsmen’s fashion, jewellery, wooden dishes depicting stylised turtles, birds, fish, intended for preparing food. But also pestles, knives, clubs, spears, bows. Most carvings represent human faces.
Present everywhere , pottery is found today only on the western part of Santo. Women use their knees to mold the terracotta, round it up and give it a bowl shape. Basket weaving is still widespread, with women making mats, bags or baskets from pandanus and coconut leaves or bourao stems.