Vanuatu opens the doors to some of the best tropical beaches in the world, making it a premier destination for diving and snorkelling. It is also an ideal location for romance, family vacations, ecotourism and adventure seekers where the pristine white sandy beaches are complemented with crystal clear turquoise waters. Vanuatu is a "Y"-shaped archipelago of 83 islands lying in the South Pacific Ocean. The total land mass is around 13,000 sq. km. The islands range in topography from towering volcanic cones to others covered in dense rainforest to yet others which are raised coral islands with wide beaches and deep natural harbours.
The islands of Vanuatu first came into light when Portuguese explorer Pedro Fernández de Quirós landed on its shores. Untouched by western influences, the people of Vanuatu, a name meaning 'Land Eternal', were, predominantly, Melanesian. In the following decades, the islands were invaded and subsequently colonised by British and French forces. Until 1980 Vanuatu, then known as the New Hebrides, was jointly administered by France and Great Britain as a 'Condominium'. For some time, Melanesians began lobbying for independence, which was finally achieved on July 30, 1980.