], formerly New Hebrides
hĕbˈrĭdēz, officially Republic of Vanuatu, independent republic (2009 pop. 243,304), c.5,700 sq mi (14,760 sq km), South Pacific, E of Australia. Vanuatu is a 450-mi (724-km) chain of 80 islands, of which the most important are Espíritu Santo
(the largest), Efate
, Malakula, Malo, Pentecost, and Tanna. South of Vanuatu and east of New Caledonia are the uninhabited Matthew and Hunter islands, which are claimed by both. The capital, Port Vila
, is on Efate. Vanuatu's islands are forested and mountainous, formed by volcanic eruptions (and still subject to them). The highest peak (c.6,195 ft/1,890 m) is on Espiritu Santo.
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