This is an archipelago in the South West Pacific, consisting of 82 relatively small islands of volcanic origin. It used to be known as the New Hebrides. Most of the islands are inhabited.
It's current name comes from the words 'vanua' (land or home) and 'tu' (stand). It means Our Land Forever in many of the locally used Melanesian languages.
Vanuatu has three official languages, Bislama, English and French. Bislama, is a form of Pidgin.
The landscape on the islands varies from rugged mountains and plateaus to rolling hills and coastal terraces. You will also find many offshore coral reefs. The highest point in Vanuatu is Mount Tabwemasana, at 1,879 metres, on the island of Espiritu Santo.
You can see active volcanoes on several islands. There are underwater volcanoes too. The islands are prone to earthquakes. Seven earthquakes were recorded in 2011, all of which were at least 6.0 on the Richter Scale.
Vanuatu has no indigenous large mammals. The 19 species of reptiles native to the islands include the flowerpot snake, found only on the island of Efate. This harmless blind animal is often mistaken for an earthworm.
Vanuatu joined the Commonwealth in 1980.
It made its debut in the Brisbane 1982 Commonwealth Games and has been a regular competitor ever since. The National Olympic Committee is responsible for organising their country's participation in the Commonwealth Games and the Commonwealth Youth Games.