Vanuatu is an archipelago that includes more than 80 islands, 65 of which are inhabited. Most of the islands are mountainous and of volcanic origin. Some have narrow plains along their coasts. The two largest islands account for nearly one-half of the total 4,739 square-mile land area. Exotic Vanuatu was the setting for the TV series, Survivor: Vanuatu—Islands of Fire in 2004.
The people of Vanuatu are friendly and easygoing. About 80 percent of them are engaged in agricultural activities. A 2006 New Economics Foundation study designated Vanuatu the world's happiest nation. However, the people are not without problems. The islands are susceptible to cyclones, volcanic activity, tsunamis, erosion, and drought. The language situation in Vanuatu is complex. There are three official languages—French, English and Bislama (a pidgin). Bislama is the most widely-spoken language, but education is mainly in French or English. Bislama is therefore sometimes described as the most common second language in Vanuatu.
For centuries, multiple waves of colonizers, each speaking a distinct language, migrated to the islands of Vanuatu. This accounts for the complex linguistic diversity that remains there to this day. The population of approximately 240,000 includes 112 distinct language groups. Many of the islands on which these groups are found are accessible only by air or boat. The task is enormous.
The Bible translation center is located in the capital city of Port Vila. From there, the Word of God is steadily being made available to the people who have yet to hear. Five missionary teams and ten national teams are working to translate the Bible into each of the languages of the Vanuatu islands. Wycliffe Associates volunteers and staff are working diligently in construction, computers, and other areas to make this goal a reality. Your gifts are vital to the support of this ongoing ministry to those who still wait for the Bible in their language.