Vanuatu is currently growing at a rate of 2.4% per year. The country has a fertility rate of 3.82 births per woman, which has declined over the last sixty years but remains high. The life expectancy is 71 years.
Most of the population of Vanuatu is rural, although Port Vila and Luganville have sizable populations. Port Vila is the largest city and capital with a population of 45,000, accounting for 19% of the country's total population.
The first inhabitants of Vanuatu were the Melanesian people. Europeans first visited the island through a Spanish expedition in 1605, claiming the archipelago for Spain. France and the United Kingdom claimed parts of the country in the 1880s and it was jointly managed in 1906. Vanuatu gained independence from France and the United Kingdom in 1980.
The inhabitants of Vanuatu are known as Ni-Vanuatu. 98.5% of the population are of Melanesian descent, with the rest comprised of a mix of Europeans, Asians and other Pacific Islanders. Three of the islands of Vanuatu were historically Polynesian.
There are also about 2,000 Ni-Vanuatu working and living in New Caledonia, about 300 miles away. Nearly 90% of the population fishes and eats fish, which has caused a great deal of pressure near villages as shore species are depleted.