Vanuatu is an island nation located in the southern Pacific Ocean. The archipelago, which is of volcanic origin, is approximately 1,090 miles (about 1,750 kilometres) east of northern Australia, approximately 310 miles (about 500 kilometres) northeast of New Caledonia, west of Fiji and southeast of the Solomon Islands, near New Guinea. Located on Mélé Bay along the southwest coast of Éfaté, Port Vila is the capital and largest city of Vanuatu, as well as its commercial and economic centre. Although Port Vila's British and French influences are apparent, its multinational population includes ni-Vanuatu, British, French, Chinese, and Vietnamese citizens. An active commercial port, the city is home to hospitals, hotels, casinos, markets and shopping districts, a sports stadium, cultural centre, teacher-training institution, campus of the University of the South Pacific, and several meat- and fish-processing plants. The municipality of Port Vila is divided into four wards, Malapoa-Tagabe, Anabrou-Melcofe-Tassiriki, Centre and South. The area occupied by Port Vila has been inhabited by Melanesian people for thousands of years. In 2004, an archaeological expedition unearthed a burial site with 25 tombs, skeletons and pieces of ceramic pottery dating from 1300 B.C. The Vanuatu Islands first had contact with Europeans in 1606 with the arrival of Portuguese explorer Pedro Fernandes de Queirós. Europeans did not return until 1768, when Louis Antoine de Bougainville rediscovered the islands. In 1774, Captain Cook called the islands the 'New Hebrides', a name that would last until their independence in 1980. In 1825, sandalwood was discovered on the island of Erromango, prompting a rush of immigrants that included Catholic and Protestant missionaries from European and North America, as well as settlers looking for land to farm cotton, coffee, cocoa, bananas, and coconuts. British subjects from Australia made up the majority of settlers, but the establishment of the Caledonian Company of the New Hebrides in 1882 attracted more French subjects. The land around Port Vila was converted into the municipality of Franceville in 1889. By the start of the 20th century, the French outnumbered the British, and the two nations agreed to govern the islands jointly by way of the British-French Condominium. During World War II, Port Vila was an American and Australian airbase. The New Hebrides National Party was established in the early-1970s. Renamed Vanua'aku Pati in 1974, the party pushed for independence. In 1980, amidst the brief Coconut War, the Republic of Vanuatu was created. The economies of Port Vila and Vanuatu are supported by the agriculture, offshore financial services and cattle industries. However, the abundant tropical beauty of Vanuatu has made Port Vila a popular tourist destination for outdoor and nature enthusiasts alike. Renowned for its tropical climate and exquisite, white-sand beaches and world-class fishing, the archipelago is a region of spectacular geographic diversity that includes spectacular volcanoes, mountains and valleys, along with idyllic jungles, rainforests, botanical gardens, mineral springs, and waterfalls. What's more, Port Vila offers easy access to exploring the city, Vanuatu and the offshore islands that comprise this wonderful South Pacific island chain. Port Vila consists of a diverse blend of Melanesian, Eastern and Western cultures that presents a unique opportunity to discover the people, traditions and history of Vanuatu. Cultural village tours are a fantastic way to meet the locals and experience indigenous lifestyles and customs through storytelling, music, dance, kava-tasting, and a traditional Melanesian feast. The evolution of Port Vila and Vanuatu can be explored during visits to the Vanuatu Cultural Centre and Museum features a collection of historical artefacts from the Vanuatu Island. Additional historic landmarks include Independence Park, the French and British residencies, Supreme Court, Georges Pompidou Building, World War I and II memorials, Tanna Coffee-Roasting Factory, and more. Vanuatu's verdant canyons, jungle-covered mountain peaks, volcanoes, waterfalls, botanical gardens, mineral springs, white-sand beaches, and rainforests invite a wide array of picturesque, memorable and exciting sightseeing venues for outdoor enthusiasts. Land-based excursions include bird-watching, bicycling and motor-biking, eco-tours, hiking through jungle and rainforest nature trails, horseback-riding at the nearby Sea Horse Ranch or Club Hippique Adventure Park, helicopter or seaplane flight-seeing, dune-bugging the beaches and jungles, 'zorbing' down the hillsides, abseiling down a cascading waterfall, volcano trekking and sandboarding, zip-lining through the jungle canopy, and golfing at the stunningly beautiful Port Vila Golf and Country Club, the only 18-hole championship course in Vanuatu and home to the PGA-sanctioned Vanuatu Open. Picturesque and fun-filled water-based excursions include swimming, boating and sailing along the exquisite coast of Port Vila and Vanuatu, deep-sea fishing for enormous dolphin, marlin, wahoo, dorado, tuna, swordfish, and sailfish, jet-skiing and high-speed jet-boating, stand-up paddle-boarding, surfing, kite-surfing, and parasailing. The archipelago also offers some of the world's finest snorkelling and diving at venues such as the Hideaway Islands Marine Reserves, JoJo Beach Club, Havannah Beach and Boat Club, and Iririki Island.Due to its compact size, Port Vila can be easily explored in just a single day.