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Vanuatu is a South Pacific Ocean nation made up of roughly 80 islands that stretch 1,300 kilometers.
The islands offer scuba diving at coral reefs, underwater caverns and wrecks such as the WWII-era troopship SS President Coolidge.
Harborside Port Vila, the nation’s capital and economic center, is on the island of Efate.
The city is home to the Vanuatu National Museum, which explores the nation’s Melanesian culture.
The prehistory of Vanuatu is obscure; archaeological evidence supports the commonly held theory that peoples speaking Austronesian languages first came to the islands some 4,000 years ago. Pottery fragments have been found dating back to 1300–1100 BC.
The first island in the Vanuatu group discovered by Europeans was Espiritu Santo, when in 1606 the Portuguese explorer Pedro Fernandes de Queirós working for the Spanish crown, spied what he thought was a southern continent.
Europeans did not return until 1768. In 1774, Captain Cook named the islands the New Hebrides, a name that lasted until independence.
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