Vanuatu - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

Vanuatu, an Island Nation in the South Pacific Ocean, over 1000 miles East of Northern Australia, has a total land area of 4,710 square miles and a population of over 243,000. Vanuatu, part of the Australasia ecozone, is categorized as a terrestrial ecoregion. The region is rich in sea life, with more than 4,000 species of marine mollusks. The growing population is squeezing the available natural resources. The major sectors of its economy are agriculture, tourism, offshore financial services, and cattle raising. Copra, kava, and cocoa are the major cash crops. The coral reefs of the South Pacific is a magnet for scuba divers and this sector has shown rapid growth. Vanuatu was a tax haven till 2008 but now bowing to international pressure by improving clarity.

Travel Resources:

April through October is the best time to visit Vanuatu. Scuba diving, game fishing,  windsurfing, yachting, mountain climbing, and hiking are the popular activities at Vanuatu. Mele Cascades, Mount Yasur, and Hideaway Island Marine Reserve are the oft-visited sights. The popular islands are the scenic Efate, Tanna, and Espiritu, which are home to its towns, Luganville and Port Vila. Cuisine is based on fish, root vegetables, fruits and other vegetables. Food is mostly steamed or boiled.


ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
Vanuatu and New Caledonia Lonely Planet Multi Country Guide978-1741047929$12A short introduction followed by Vanuatu (90 pages) with sections on Efate, Epi, Tanna, Makekula, Ambrym, Espiritu Santo, and Pentecost.
Vanuatu Country Map by Hema978-1865003870$91:1,000,000 Scale. Includes a street map of Port Villa. Enlarged insets of the islands of Espiritu Santo, Pentecost, Tanna, and Efate.
Vanuatu Grounded Adapter Plug Kit – GUB, GUC, and GUDB001FD5EI4$21

Philatelic Profile:

The first stamps of Vanuatu were a set of thirteen stamps released on July 30, 1980 showing local scenes. The set (Scott #280 to #292) catalogs for around $13 MNH and a little less for used. A variety with French Inscription was also issued and that set (Scott #280a to #292a) catalogs for around $15 MNH and around $13 for used. The designs show Erromango Island and kaori tree, archipelago and man making copra, Espiritu Santo Island and cattle, Efate Island and Post Office at Vila, Malakula Island and headdresses, Aoba and Maewo Islands and pig tusks, Pentecost Island and land diving, Tanna Island and Prophet John Frum’s Red Cross, Shepherd Island and canoe with sail, Banks Island and dancers, Ambrym Island and carvings, Aneityum Island and decorated baskets, and Torres Islands and fishing with bow and arrow. Parts of the country were claimed by both France and United Kingdom in the 1880s and in 1906 a British-French Condominium managed the archipelago as New Hebrides. Following an independence movement that arose in the 1970s, the Republic of Vanuatu was established on July 30, 1980.

Other issues of Vanuatu enjoying good philatelic interest include:
  1. A set of fifteen stamps released on July 15, 1987 showing Fish. The set (Scott #442 to #456) catalogs for around $25 MNH or used. The designs show blotched hawkfish, moorish idol, sharpnose pufferfish, red anemonefish, lined surgeonfish, six-banded wrasse, tuka anthias, white-tailed squirrelfish, clown triggerfish, six-line wrasse, pyramid butterflyfish, red lionfish, black-sided hawkfish, green triggerfish, and saddleback butterflyfish.
  2. A set of four stamps and a souvenir sheet released on May 22, 1992 to mark Vanuatu’s (New Hebrides) participation in World War II. The set (Scott #560 to #563 and #564) catalogs for around $25 MNH or used. The designs show Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat, Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless, Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina, USS Hornet, and Vought-Sikorsky OS2U-3.
  3. A set of sixteen stamps released on July 7, 1993 showing Island Scenes. The set (Scott #595 to #610) catalogs for around $25 MNH or used. The designs show Iririki Island at Port Vila, Iririki Island Yachts, Court House at Port Vila, Two Grils at Pentecost Island, women dancers at Tanna Island, market at Port Vila, man with canoe at Erakor Island, coconut trees at Champagne Beach, coconut trees at North Efate Islands, fish, sea fan at Tongoa Island, Espiritu Santo Island, sailboat at Sunset at Port Vila Bay, Mele Waterfall, Yasur Volcano at Tanna Island, and Erakor Island.
  4. A set of seven stamps released on July 14, 1999 showing Ceremonial Dancers. The set (Scott #746 to #752) catalogs for around $14 MNH or used. The designs show Banks Islands, Small Nambas at Laman-Malakula, Small Nambas at Malakula, Smol Bag Theatre, South West Bay at Malakula, Big Nambas at Malakula and Pentacost.
Numismatic Profile:

The first coins of Vanuatu were Republic Standard Coinage Nickel-Brass Vatus issued in 1983 showing National Arms in Obverse and Shell and Value in Reverse. In 1981, gold coins for the numismatic market was also issued and since then a number of commemorative proofs have been issued. The first gold proof was a 0.04 troy ounce 50 Vatu issue of 1998 showing National Arms in Obverse and the design of a Spanish 1704 gold coin in Reverse.

Numismatic items of Vanuatu include:


ItemPrice RangeDescription
Coins$1 and upCommon UNC Vatus starts around $1. Recent Year Sets in UNC, New Hebrides silver coins from the 1960s, etc start around $10. Recent Colored Silver Proofs starts around $25. Low Mintage Silver Proofs, Gold Proofs, etc start around $50 and go well into the 100s.
Paper Money$5 and upCommon UNC Vatus starts around $5. High Value Vatus in UNC, Consecutive UNC Banknotes of 5 pieces or more, etc start around $10. Rare Specimen Banknotes, Bundles, etc start around $50 and go into the 100s.


Collectible Memorabilia:

Woven bags, tam-tams, shells, wooden carvings, and watercolors are typical souvenirs of Vanuatu.


ResourcePrice RangeDescription
Antiques$20 and upMalekula Grade Currency, Dance Wands, etc start around $20. Malekula Masks, Amulet Figures, 18th century maps, etc start around $50. Vintage House Post Carvings, Palmwood Spears, Dance Clubs etc go well into the 100s.
Miscellaneous Collectibles$3 and upStickers, Flags, Patches, etc start around $3. Tagua Carved Earrings and Turtle Pins start around $25. Great Old Vanuatu Ironwood Ancestor Figures start in the $100 range.


Last Updated: 12/2015.

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