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Vanuatu, officially the Republic of Vanuatu, is an island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago, which is ofvolcanic origin, is some 1,750 kilometers (1,090 mi) east of northern Australia, 500 kilometers (310 mi) north-east of New Caledonia, westof Fiji, and south of the Solomon Islands. The island archipelago consists ofapproximately 82 relatively small, geologically newer islands of volcanicorigin (65 of them inhabited), with about 800 miles (1,300 km) northto south distance between the outermost islands. Two of these islands (Matthewand Hunter) are also claimed by the French overseas department of New Caledonia. The nation’s largest towns are the capital Port Vila, situated on Efate, and Luganvilleon Espiritu Santo.
Vanuatu has a population of 221,506. Most is rural, though PortVila and Luganville have populations in the tens of thousands. In 2006 the New Economics Foundation and Friends of the Earth environmentalist group rated Vanuatu as the happiest place to live out of 178 nations all over the worldusing the Happy Planet Index. There are three official languages: English, French, and Bislama. Bislama is a pidgin language, and now a creole in urban areas, whichessentially combines a typically Melanesian grammar with a mostly English vocabulary. The climate is sub-tropical with approximately nine months of warmto hot rainy weather and the possibility of cyclones and three to four monthsof cooler drier weather characterized by winds from the southeast.
This South Pacific island economy is based primarily onsmall-scale agriculture, which provides a living for 65% of the population. Fishing, offshore financial services, and tourism, with more than 60,000visitors in 2005, are other mainstays of the economy. Mineral deposits arenegligible; the country has no known petroleum deposits. A small light industry sector caters to the local market. Tax revenues come mainly from import duties. Economic development is hindered by dependence on relatively few commodity exports, vulnerability to natural disasters, and long distances from main markets and between constituent islands. In response to foreign concerns, the government has promised to tighten regulation of its offshore financial center. Inmid-2002 the government stepped up efforts to boost tourism through improvedair connections, resort development, and cruise ship facilities. Agriculture,especially livestock farming, is a second target for growth. Australia and New Zealand are the main suppliers of tourists and foreign aid.
Vanuatu is a tax haven that until 2008 did not release account information to other governments or law-enforcement agencies. International pressure, mainly from Australia, influenced the Vanuatu government to begin adhering to international norms to improve transparency. In Vanuatu, there are no income tax, no withholding tax, no capital gains tax, no inheritance taxes, or exchange controls. A disproportionately large number ofship-management companies choose to flag their ships under the Vanuatu flag,because of the tax benefits and favorable labor laws. Several file-sharinggroups, such as the providers of the KaZaA network of Sharman Networks and thedevelopers of WinMX, have chosen to incorporate in Vanuatu to avoid regulationand legal challenges.
There are many reasons for investing in Real Estate in Vanuatu. Some people wish to acquire a retirement home whilst others want the quality of life that comes from residing in Vanuatu. Still others seek to buy property purely as an investment, particularly as the relatively high rents make property ownership attractive.