Climate Change Overview

Country Summary

This page presents high-level information for Vanuatu's climate zones and its seasonal cycle for mean temperature and precipitation for the latest climatology, 1991-2020. Climate zone classifications are derived from the Köppen-Geiger climate classification system, which divides climates into five main climate groups divided based on seasonal precipitation and temperature patterns. The five main groups are A (tropical), B (dry), C (temperate), D (continental), and E (polar). All climates except for those in the E group are assigned a seasonal precipitation sub-group (second letter).  Climate classifications are identified by hovering your mouse over the legend. A narrative overview of Vanuatu's country context and climate is provided following the visualizations.

The Republic of Vanuatu is an island nation situated in the middle of Fiji, Solomon Islands, and New Caledonia. The country consists of 83 individual islands, over which is spread a population of over 299,800 people (2019) which has been growing rapidly. Only 12 islands could be called significant in terms of their economy and population. The nation is culturally diverse, exemplified by its 138 distinct languages, although there are only three languages officially recognized (English, French, and Bislama). Since Vanuatu declared independence, in 1980, it has been a constitutional representative democracy.

The economy of Vanuatu, like surrounding island states, is based predominantly on the service sector (67% of GDP value added), followed by agriculture (22%) and industry (11%). However, there is significant local dependence on subsistence agriculture and issues of poverty and undernourishment are prevalent. The nation has extensive natural resources, including forests, uplands, corals, and atolls which provide habitats for unique biodiversity and supplement the livelihoods of the 80% of the population that reside in rural areas.

Vanuatu’s economy remains strongly oriented towards agriculture (particularly in rural areas). Food products constituted around 85% of exports in 2011. Simultaneously, Vanuatu has a food trade deficit and dependence on imports for food security equivalent to over $50 per capita in 2011 giving it high vulnerability to price shocks and disaster events. Key agricultural crops include coconuts, kava, and cocoa plants. About one third of cultivable land is currently being farmed, with most being used to produce coconuts. Copra, which is the kernel inside coconuts, accounted for 35% of Vanuatu’s exports in 2007, and coconuts are also used as a source of food, drink, animal feed, and as a construction material by the islands’ communities.

Disasters resulting from natural hazards are a significant contributor to issues of social deprivation and impede economic development in Vanuatu, costing on average an estimated 6% of GDP every year. The nation’s exposure to natural hazards, extensive low-lying coastal zone, development context, and precarious natural resource base mean it is amongst the most vulnerable nations to climate change in the world.