As with that of other Melanesian countries, the history of Vanuatu has been strongly influenced by external factors. Its location in the middle of the Melanesia cultural area, close to the contact point with Micronesia and Polynesia, has made the contacts with Oceanic and European explorers sailing across the Pacific possible throughout history. In the 20th century, Vanuatu had been relegated to a peripheral location in a geopolitical context, but its inclusion in the Pacific Theatre of Operation during the Second World War had a considerable impact on islanders’ social life, developing peculiar ways of religious syncretism known as cargo, and nationalist movements driven by messianic beliefs.

First Settlements and Institutional Development

The origins of Vanuatu culture and social life are covered by a veil of mystery. ...

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