Ship Registration: Law and Practice
Vanuatu consists of a group of islands in the South Pacific, situated approximately 1,500 miles north-east of Sydney, Australia and 500 miles due west of Fiji. Captain Cook sailed through the islands in 1774, naming them the New Hebrides, after the group of islands off the north-west coast of Scotland. There is a population of some 283,000. From 1906 onwards, the islands were administered jointly by Britain and France as a condominium, the only one of its kind in the world. In 1980 the country became an independent republic and a member of the Commonwealth. The legislature consists of a single chamber of 50 elected members, with a general election being held every four years. Executive power is vested in the Prime Minister and a Council of Ministers who are responsible to Parliament. The head of State is the President who is elected for a term of five years. The capital is Port Vila on the island of Efate. Agriculture is the principal economic activity, followed by tourism.