An island country of the southern Pacific Ocean east of northern Australia. Inhabited primarily by Melanesian peoples, the islands were sighted by the Portuguese in 1606 and explored by Capt. James Cook, who named them “New Hebrides,” in 1774. Under joint French and British control after 1906, New Hebrides achieved independence as Vanuatu in 1980. Port Vila, on Efate Island, is the capital.
Country on a group of islands in the SW Pacific, west of Fiji: formerly an Anglo-French condominium, it became an independent republic in 1980; member of the Commonwealth: 4,710 sq mi (12,200 sq km); cap. Vila.