The Port of Port Vila is the biggest town and the capital of the Republic of Vanuatu. Located on the southwestern coast of the Island of Efate off Mele Bay, the Port of Port Vila is also the commercial center of Vanuatu. The city is home to a multi-cultural population, with residents of French, British, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Vanuatun descent. This busy city is home to a busy port as well as many hotels, markets, casinos, and shopping districts. In early 2002, a powerful offshore earthquake caused significant damage to the Port of Port Vila. In 2004, almost 37 thousand people lived in the Port of Port Vila.
The Port of Port Vila is the most important port in Vanuatu and the country's main center for trade. Over one-third of the country's exports and almost 90% of the country's imports pass through the Port of Port Vila. The port is complemented by the Bauerfield International Airport and major industries in the fishing and agriculture sectors. Tourism is an increasingly important contributor to the economy.
Melanesian peoples occupied the area of the Port of Port Vila and the islands of Vanuatu for thousands of years. In 1606, Pedro Fernandez de Quiros and Luis Vaez de Torres led the first Europeans to the island. The first Europeans to arrive in the Port of Port Vila were missionaries, whalers, and timber workers.
In the 1800s, French settlers established the city of Franceville on the island. In the 1860s, plantations were established to raise cotton, copra, and maize. In the early 1880s, Havannah Bay to the north was the main town on the island. But a 1882 drought and a malaria outbreak in Havannah Bay shifted the focus to the Port of Port Vila.
In 1889, the island declared its independence, and it became the first independent nation in the world to practice universal suffrage. At the time, the population was about 500 natives and fewer than 50 whites. One of the country's elected Presidents was US citizen R.D. Polk.
After 1887, the French and British jointly administered the territory of the Port of Port Vila. In 1906, the relationship was formalized, and the Port of Port Vila became an Anglo-French Condominium and the national capital. During the 1920s, the Port of Port Vila won a reputation as a frontier town with gambling, frequent gunfights, and guillotining.
During World War II, the United States and Australia used the Port of Port Vila as an important airbase. The United States established a military base in the area, and the city grew quickly.
In the 1970s, a nickel boom and the creation of the country as a tax shelter led to further growth in the Port of Port Vila. When cruise ships began to visit the island regularly, a wharf was built at the Port of Port Vila in 1972.
In the latter 20th Century, the Port of Port Vila suffered nature's fury. A 1987 cyclone did serious damage, and a 2002 earthquake created havoc in the Port of Port Vila and surrounding area.