- 1400 BC
Lapita people arrive in longboats with pottery.
- 11th Century AD
Polynesians arrive from the central Pacific with animals and plants.
- AD 1459
The volcano Kuwae erupts in Vanuatu, destroying an island in the huge explosion.
Portuguese explorer, Pedro Fernández de Quirós, sails into Big Bay in Santo on 3 May and names the islands Terra Australis del Espiritu Santo.
European explorer Peter Dillon discovers sandalwood trees on Erromango and quickly sets up trading routes.
Missionaries begin their attempts to try to bring Christianity to the islanders. Many get eaten.
Nearly 100 years after British explorer Captain James Cook charts the islands, Europeans flock to settle them.
With the last sandalwood gone from Erromango, blackbirding takes over, supplying cheap labour to nearby countries.
England and France decide to set up the Condominium government, and jointly administer it.
The John Frum cargo cult surfaces. The movement’s leaders are jailed by the British and mentioning the words ‘John Frum’ is outlawed.
A US fleet sets up a huge base on Santo as WWII begins its final phases.
On 26 October the troop-carrying USS President Coolidge is hit by a friendly mine while approaching Santo’s harbour.
The Anglo-French Condominium recognises the John Frum cargo cult as a religion.
The last ritualistic cannibal killing occurs.
Cruise ships start visiting, marking the start of Vanuatu as a tourist destination.
On the eve of independence, Nagriamel, a political movement led by Jimmy Stevens of Santo, declares Santo a separate nation (it’s short-lived).
Independence Day – New Hebrides becomes Vanuatu on 30 July.
George Sokomanu is elected as Vanuatu’s first president.
Hilda Lini and Maria Crowby are the first women elected to parliament.
Vanuatu sends its first athlete to the summer Olympic Games.
Teouma, the largest known cemetery in the Pacific islands, is discovered on Efate.
Vanuatu is removed from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s list of ‘uncooperative tax havens’.
Vanuatu qualifies for a US Millennium Grant of US$65 million, beginning a four-year period of financial and political stability.
Ambae’s Mt Manaro erupts, resulting in the evacuation of thousands of people from the island.
The New Economics Foundation declares Vanuatu to be the happiest country in the world. Part of the index measures people’s impact on the environment.
Chief Roi Mata’s domain (Hat Island) becomes the first Vanuatu site to be inscribed by Unesco.
The Asian Development Bank declares Vanuatu one of the fastest-growing economies in the Pacific.
Vanuatu becomes a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Cyclone Pam devastates much of the country in March.
Half of the serving parliament is convicted and jailed for corruption in October.