Unity Day in Vanuatu in 2024

Unity Day in Vanuatu in 2024
Traditional performers from Futuna island, Vanuatu. Image by Graham Crumb , via Australian Department of Foreign Affairs
  How long until Unity Day?
Unity Day
  Dates of Unity Day in Vanuatu
2025 Vanuatu Sat, Nov 29 Public Holiday
2024 Vanuatu Fri, Nov 29 Public Holiday
2023 Vanuatu Wed, Nov 29 Public Holiday
2022 Vanuatu Tue, Nov 29 Public Holiday
2021 Vanuatu Mon, Nov 29 Public Holiday

This holiday began in 1977 to engender a spirit of national unity among Vanuatu's very diverse population.

When is Unity Day?

Unity Day is a national holiday in the Republic of Vanuatu on November 29th each year.

This aim of the holiday is to unite all peoples of Vanuatu into one single nation.

History of Unity Day

Vanuatu is an island nation of 83 small volcanic islands in the South Pacific Ocean, with a population of about 270,000. Despite these relatively small numbers, the people speak an impressive 113 indigenous languages - it is the country with the highest density of languages per capita in the world.

And although the majority of the population have the same ethnic background, the tribes that developed on the different islands also have their own unique customs and traditions as well as languages.

Since the start of the 20th century, the islands had been jointly administered by France and the United Kingdom and known as the New Hebrides. In the 1970s the movement for independence gained momentum with the establishment of the first political party, the New Hebrides National Party (renamed as the Vanua'aku Party in 1974). The  Vanua'aku Party proclaimed the creation of a provisional government in 1977. When the leaders of the party tried to raise a flag over the headquarters in Port Vila, the action was resisted by the police leading to violence and the loss of life.

The awakening of this political spirit and the ensuing strife led to Unity Day being established as a public holiday. Its aim is to engender a spirit of national unity among Vanuatu's very diverse population and remind the country’s diverse population of its shared struggles and interests.

To celebrate this day, representatives from all of Vanuatu's tribal groups come to the capital city of Port Vila.

High chiefs from the different islands attend the festivities, which include performances by native dancers in their traditional dress and a parade. The holiday's festivities typically include picnics, music concerts and sporting events.

In 2004 President Kalkot Mataskelekele asked that church leaders spend time during the day in special prayer for national unity.

Did you know?

The name of Vanuatu comes from two local words meaning "home" and "stand" was adopted on independence in 1980.

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