Provinces of Vanuatu

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I added data from the final 2009 census report (source [3]).

Sorin Cosoveanu points out that Vanuatu has municipalities which are not properly part of any of the provinces. They are Port Vila (established 1980), Luganville (1982), and Lenakel (2008). The first two are indeed reported separately in the census. I, along with the standards, have lumped each of them in with the provinces of which they are capitals.

International standard ISO 3166-2 was published on December 15, 1998. It superseded ISO/DIS 3166-2 (draft international standard). For Vanuatu, the draft standard showed eleven provinces. However, in 1994 the country was reorganized. The final standard shows the six new provinces, with their new codes. Change 2 to FIPS PUB 10-4, dated March 1, 1999, also shows this reorganization.

Country overview: 

Short nameVANUATU
ISO codeVU
LanguageEnglish (en), French (fr)
Time zone+11
CapitalPort Vila


At the beginning of the 20th century, the New Hebrides were an Anglo-French protectorate. On 1906-02-27 an agreement was reached making them a condominium of Britain and France. Thus they remained, until they attained independence on 1980-07-30 and took the name of Vanuatu.

Other names of country: 

  1. Bislama: Ripablik blong Vanuatu (formal)
  2. Danish: Vanuatu
  3. Dutch: Vanuatu, Republiek Vanuatu (formal)
  4. English: Republic of Vanuatu (formal), New Hebrides (obsolete)
  5. Finnish: Vanuatu
  6. French: Vanuatu m, Nouvelles Hébrides fp (obsolete)
  7. German: Vanuatu n
  8. Icelandic: Vanúatú
  9. Italian: Vanuatu
  10. Norwegian: Vanuatu, Republikken Vanuatu (formal)
  11. Portuguese: Vanuatu n (m in Brazil), República f de Vanuatu (formal)
  12. Russian: Республика Вануату (formal)
  13. Spanish: Vanuatu, República f de Vanuatu (formal)
  14. Swedish: Vanuatu
  15. Turkish: Vanuatu Cumhuriyeti (formal)

Origin of name: 

native phrase for "our land"

Primary subdivisions: 

Vanuatu is divided into six provinces.

ShéfaVU.SESEENH1878,7231,507582Port Vila
6 provinces234,02312,2814,742
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
  • ISO: Province codes from ISO 3166-2. For full identification in a global
    context, prefix "VU-" to the code (ex: VU-SAM represents Sanma).
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4, a U.S. government standard.
  • Population: 2009-11-16 census (source [3]).
  • Capitals provided by Karem Abdalla.

Further subdivisions:

See the Councils of Vanuatu page.

Territorial extent: 

Under each province, I list the pre-1994 councils that correspond to it, followed by the islands belonging to each council. Alternate names given in parentheses are usually older or rarer forms of the island name.

  1. Malampa: Ambrym includes Ambrym (Ambrim) island; Malakula includes Malakula (Malekula), Tomman (Ur), and the Maskelyne Islands; Paama includes Paama and Lopévi islands.
  2. Pénama: Aoba/Maéwo includes Aoba (Oba) and Maéwo (Aurora) islands. Pentecôte includes Pentecôte (Pentecost) islands.
  3. Sanma: Santo/Malo includes Santo (Espíritu Santo; Marina), Malo, Aoré, Tutuba, Mavéa, Lathi (Sakao), and other islands.
  4. Shéfa: Éfaté includes Éfaté (Vate), Nguna, Moso (Verao), Lélépa, Émao (Mau), and other islands. Épi includes Épi island. Shepherd includes the Shepherd Islands: Tongoa, Émaé (Mai), Tongariki, Makura, Mataso, and others.
  5. Taféa: Taféa includes Erromango, Tanna, Anatom (Aneityum), Aniwa, and Futuna islands.
  6. Torba: Banks/Torres includes the Banks Islands (Santa María (Gaua), Vanua Lava, Mota Lava (Saddle), Uréparapa (Norbarbar), Vatu Rhandi, etc.) and the smaller Torres Islands (Hiu, Tégua, Toga, and Loh).

The UN LOCODE page  for Vanuatu lists locations in the country, some of them with their latitudes and longitudes, some with their ISO 3166-2 codes for their subdivisions. This information can be put together to approximate the territorial extent of subdivisions.

Change history: 

  1. 1906-02-27: New Hebrides became a condominium, or joint colony, of England and France.
  2. Source [5] (1951) shows New Hebrides divided into fourteen islands. It's not clear whether these are considered administrative divisions.
Espiritu Santo4,000
Vanua Lava 
14 islands47,892
  • Population: 1946 estimates of
    native population. Total is from
    1946 census of non-natives.


Source [6] (1964) says that there are four districts, without mentioning any names. Source [2] contains a map dated 1970-11, showing New Hebrides divided into four districts (List A). Accompanying text says that they were subdivided into 13 local councils as of 1966. Source [4] shows a set of four districts with different names (List B), but with the same territory, except for the placement of Épi Island. Épi is in Malékoula on List A but in Central No. 1 on List B. FIPS PUB 10, as early as 1973, lists four districts with the same names as List B. I hypothesize that the districts changed from List A to List B in ~1968, but that it took a few years before the Office of the Geographer changed the map.

List AList BFIPSCapitalBecame
EfatéCentral No. 1NH01Port Vila (Vila)Éfaté, Épi, Shepherd
MalékoulaCentral No. 2NH02Lamap, Malakula I.Ambrym, Malakula, Paama, Pentecôte
SantoNorthernNH03LuganvilleAoba/Maéwo, Banks/Torres, Santo/Malo
  • List A: district name according to Geographic Report No. 16.
  • List B: district name according to New International Atlas.
  • FIPS: code according to FIPS PUB 10
  • Became: island councils formed from this district (according to List B)
  1. (Note: Vila is now more often known as Port Vila—usually Port-Vila in French.)
  2. 1980-07-30: New Hebrides became independent and took the name Vanuatu.
  3. ~1985: Districts of Vanuatu eliminated and replaced by eleven island councils. The new division is shown on the CIA map dated 1989-09; in a FIPS code update dated 1991-01-17; and in the 1990 edition of the Rand McNally International Atlas.
AmbrymVU.AMNH05NH02VU.ML7,170663Eas, Ambrym I.
Aoba/MaéwoVU.AONH06NH03VU.PM10,902653Longana, Aoba I.
Banks/TorresVU.BANH07NH03VU.TR5,985820Sola, Vanua Lava I.
ÉfatéVU.EFNH08NH01VU.SE30,4221,076Port Vila, Éfaté I.
ÉpiVU.EPNH09NH01VU.SE3,611455Ringdove, Épi I.
MalakulaVU.MANH10NH02VU.ML19,2982,060Lakatoro, Malakula I.
PaamaVU.PANH11NH02VU.ML1,69533Liro, Paama I.
PentecôteVU.PRNH12NH02VU.PM11,336439Loltong, Pentecôte I.
Santo/MaloVU.SMNH13NH03VU.SN23,9843,892Luganville, Espíritu Santo I.
ShepherdVU.SHNH14NH01VU.SE3,96586Morua, Tongoa I.
TaféaVU.TANH15NH04VU.TF22,3761,701Isangel, Tanna I.
11 councils140,74411,878
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes. If periods are replaced by
    hyphens, these are the same as the council codes from ISO/DIS 3166-2.
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4.
  • Dist: FIPS code for former district to which this area belonged under the condominium
    (see table above).
  • Prov: Code for the province formed in 1994 from this council, keyed to the table at top.
  • Population: 1989-05-16 census.
  • Area: You may note that the areas of the old provinces don't quite agree with the new
    ones. Sources don't usually explain how their areas were measured. One source may
    include inland water, or tiny islands neglected by another. The country may have
    recomputed its cadastral records.
  • Capital: Name of city, followed by the island it's on.


1994: Vanuatu reorganized from eleven island councils to six provinces. Each new province was formed by merging one or more island councils. The new province names are acronyms for the former councils that were merged to make them. For example, MALAMPA is the union of MALakula, AMbrym, and PAama.

Population history:



Note: Data from before 1994 are proleptic. Census data for 1967 and 1979 come from source [3].


  1. [1] 2009 Census Household Listing Counts , Vanuatu National Statistics Office (retrieved 2010-07-31).
  2. [2] Geographic Report No. 16, Office of the Geographer, Department of State, 1971-10-27.
  3. [3] Vanuatu National Statistics Office. 2009 National Population and Housing Census, Basic Tables Report, Volume 1  (retrieved 2011-03-28).
  4. [4] Rand McNally New International Atlas, 1969 and 1980 editions.
  5. [5] Encyclopædia Britannica World Atlas, 1951 edition.
  6. [6] Encyclopædia Britannica World Atlas, 1964 edition.
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