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Vanuatu Country Report

Country Risk Level



Executive Summary

Vanuatu's politics are 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, won power in February 2016 and has survived several no-confidence votes. He has no term limit: he will remain in office for as long as he has the parliament's confidence.The small island economy is heavily reliant on tourism and agriculture as well as foreign aid-driven infrastructure investment projects. Vanuatu is extremely vulnerable to a wide range of natural disasters, and has spent much of the past four years rebuilding after a succession of significant cyclones.In September 2017 the eruption of the Manaro volcano forced the evacuation of 11,000 people from Ambae Island, placing the country under a state of emergency (now lifted). The risk of crime is low but increasing, particularly in urban areas.

Operational Outlook

The dilapidated state of the country's transport infrastructure remains a major operational constraint. Corruption is an enduring problem, and there is an ongoing risk of donor aid being subject to mismanagement. Political influence peddling within the oversized bureaucracy is a recurrent issue. Nonetheless, in June 2018 the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) assessed that Vanuatu has made enough progress in its anti-money-laundering regulations to be removed from the FATF "grey list". Vanuatu's workforce is largely engaged in subsistence agriculture; union activity is permitted but rare in practice. Natural disasters are also a periodic occurrence and can cause major damage to infrastructure.



There is no known terrorist threat in Vanuatu.


Crime is an increasing problem in urban areas, notably the capital Port Vila. Small-scale petty theft, muggings, house burglaries, and organised theft targeting businesses are the main crime risks. The isolated location of Vanuatu and the dispersed nature of its many islands mean that the country's waters can be used as a transhipment point for smuggling drugs from Latin America to Australia and Asia. Incidents of violent crime, such as murder, are rare.

War Risks

Vanuatu maintains 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 small risk of tribal violence.

Social Stability

Strikes and protests in the capital Port Vila centred on tribal, labour, and land disputes are the key sources of unrest. Government offices and Chinese-owned businesses are likely targets.

Health Risk

Vaccinations required to enter the country

No vaccinations are required to enter the country.

Routine Vaccinations

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).

Other Vaccinations

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).

Natural Risks

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.

Practical Information


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.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +678
Police: 22 222
Fire Dept.: 22 333
Ambulance: 22 100


Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz


Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal