Sunday, May 19, 2013

Geography of Vanuatu

Vanuatu (map) is an island nation located in Oceania between Australia and the United States state of Hawaii. It is an archipelago of volcanic origin and it is 1,090 miles (1,750 km) east of Australia. Vanuatu's other closest neighbors are New Caledonia, Fiji, the Solomon Islands and New Guinea.

Most recently Vanuatu has been in the news due to a series of large earthquakes that struck the island in both 2009 and 2010. In October 2009, several large earthquakes hit the islands and some were powerful enough to trigger tsunami warnings for neighboring islands. On May 28, 2010, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake hit Vanuatu and triggered a tsunami warning. In addition, on August 10, 2010, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake hit and was followed by several very large aftershocks.
Geography and Climate of Vanuatu
Vanuatu's archipelago includes more than 80 islands but only about 65 of them are inhabited. The islands are mainly of volcanic origin and they are mostly mountainous. They do however have, narrow coastal plains. The climate of Vanuatu is tropical but it is also moderated by southeast trade winds from May to October. In addition, the major rainy season on Vanuatu is from November to April and the islands are sometimes impacted by cyclones from December to April. Vanuatu's capital, Port-Vila, has an average December high temperature of 86˚F (30˚C) and an average July low of 64˚F (18˚C).

Biodiversity of Vanuatu

Despite its tropical locale and dense forests, Vanuatu is not very biodiverse in terms of its flora and fauna. For example, there are no native large mammals on the islands and most of the plants and animals found there are thought to have been brought in by colonists. Vanuatu is rich in sea life however - for example it has over 4,000 species of marine mollusks. Mangrove forests are also common along the islands' coastal areas.