The Republic of Vanuatu observes Independence Day on 30 July. This is a celebration to remember the day in 1980 when the former colony of New Hebrides ended its period of rule by Britain and France and became the free nation of Vanuatu.
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Though the islands of what is now Vanuatu were discovered by Spanish explorers in 1606, no attempt to colonize followed. In 1768, French explorers arrived. And in 1774, the British followed under famed sea captain James Cook. These two colonial powers struggled for control over the islands and had it under their dual influence by 1830. Finally, in 1906, a joint French-British government was established over the colony of New Hebrides.
After World War II, the desire for independence became strong, and in 1970 a peaceful, politically organized push for independence began. A decade later, on 30 July, 1980, the dream became a reality.
Independence Day celebrations in Vanuatu begin in the afternoon and continue all night into the early hours of the next morning. They occur all over the entire archipelago and include such things as ceremonial flag-raising, military parades, traditional dancing, magic shows, drinking “kava,” face-painting, and dressing in traditional clothes.