Vanuatu is an independent republic and part of the chain of Melanesian islands lying to the north east of Australia. Its capital, Port Vila, is only three and a half hours flying time from Sydney.
Most of Vanuatu's population lives in rural areas where subsistence farming, fishing and production of cash crops such as kava, coconut and cocoa are the main sources of livelihood, as well as the country's major exported goods.
Vanuatu's economic growth has been driven largely by tourism and construction. Prior to 2020, tourism and tourism-related services sectors (wholesale and retail trade, hotels and restaurants, and transport and communication) accounted for approximately 40 per cent of GDP and one third of people in formal employment.
Vanuatu is the largest source of Australia’s Seasonal Worker Programme workers and has participated strongly in the Pacific Labour Scheme, which provides visas for up to three years for semi-skilled work across all sectors in rural and regional Australia.
The focus of Australia's aid program in Vanuatu is to support the development of effective governance systems and institutions, facilitate economic growth and enable better-educated, healthier and resilient ni-Vanuatu people. Australia actively supports the Vanuatu government to respond to natural disasters, such as recent tropical cyclones Pam and Harold.