Shefa is one of the six provinces of Vanuatu, located in the center of the country and including the islands of Epi and Efate and the Shepherd Islands.
The province's name is derived from the initial letters of SHepherd and EFAte.
It has a population of 78,723 people and an area of 1,455 km2. Its capital is Port Vila, which is also the capital of the nation.
In the 1860s, Havanna Harbour, north Efate, was the centre of development in Shefa, with cotton plantations the focus. With dwindling prices for cotton, agricultural administrators turned to maize and coffee, before settling mainly with coconuts and cattle which are the main agricultural products today.
The French and British continued to have conflicting interests in Vanuatu (then known as New Hebrides) and decided upon a Joint Naval Commission, or Condominium, in 1887, with the Joint Court opened in 1910, it is still used today.
Shefa Province was a strategic location during World War II for the mainly American troops. Major instalments were placed on northern Efate along Havanna Harbour including Tanaliou, Siviri and Saama, and some outer Efate Islands including Moso Island.
The Shefa Islands are volcanic and limestone/raised reef in origin.The one active volcano in the Province, on Epi is only sporadically active, and other underwater and extinct volcanos are scattered throughout Shefa.
Shefa is made up of approximately 27 islands, Efate being the most populated and also the location of the Vanuatu capital, Port Vila. It is at the south end of the province and is surrounded by several smaller islands, including Iririki, Ifira, Eratap, Erakor, Erueti Lep, Ekapum Lep, Eretoka (Hat), Lelepa, Moso, Nguna, Pele, Kakula, and Emao. To the north are the Shepherd Islands, a group that includes Naore, Etarik, Mataso, Makura, Emae, Buninga, Tongariki, Tongoa, Ewose, and Laika. At the north end is the other large island in the province, Epi, as well as nearby Tefala, Namuka and Lamen. Some of these islands are uninhabited.
There is plenty of reef accessible for snorkellers to the advanced diver including Pango Wall, and Mele Reef. There is even the opportunity to sight endangered species such as turtle and dugongs near Erakor Island and marine sanctuaries.
Some of the Shefa islands have no permanent watercourses and water must be collected for drinking and bathing from rain water, which can be a tenacious exercise during drier years. The rivers of Shefa include the Tagabe, the Epule, and the Rentapau River.
Marine sanctuaries are becoming an increasingly popular way to attempt to preserve marine life around Shefa, although traditional methods of conservation can be highly effective. This movement is also an attempt to increase tourism. Parks and Sanctuaries include the Efate Land Management Area. the Nikaura Marine Protected Area on Epi, the Nguna-Pele Marine Protected Area Network on Nguna and Pele, and the Hideaway Marine Sanctuary, Hideaway Island.
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The capital of Vanuatu, Port Vila is home to approximately 44,000 people, mostly the indigenous ni-Vanuatu, and Shefa home to an estimated 79,000 in the 2009 census.Both anecdotal and statistical information shows an increase in urbanisation which doubled between 1967 and 1999. Most of Shefa's population resides in coastal areas and Efate's interior is largely unoccupied.
The Shefa Provincial Council Headquarters are located in Port Vila; these humble offices house the political and administrative hub of the Shefa government. The representatives for Shefa Province number some 18 and are elected every two years, with the president, vice president, 2nd vice president, 3rd vice president and treasurer being nominated at that time. The current president is John Markal, representing Erakor constituent.
There are approximately five languages, apart from the national language of Bislama, spoken over Shefa including the Ifira-Mele, South Efate, Nakanamanga of North Efate and outer Efate islands, Namakir of Tongoa and parts of Emae, and Emae language (a Polynesian outlier, in contrast to the other Melanesian languages). French and English are also spoken widely through the province.
Shefa Province is home to the Chief Roi Mata Domain located in Northwest Efate covering the area from Mangililui and Mangaas to Lelepa Island to Eretoka (Hat) Island. Chief Roi Mata Domain was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. It is the first such site to be inscribed in Vanuatu and is a popular attraction for tourists.The legend of Roi Mata speaks of a mighty Chief who brought peace to Efate and its surrounding islands after years of clan fighting and warfare. Jealous of his status, the Chief's brother shot him with a poison dart. Chief Roi Mata succumbed to the poison within Fels Cave on Lelepa island. He was then interred on Eretoka. Many still-living men and women were buried alongside him. This oral history was passed down over 400 years until a French archaeologist confirmed the tale by excavating the burial site and found some 40 skeletons adorned with jewellery denoting high rank.
There are no kastom villages left in Shefa Province, that is, with people walking around in grass skirts and blowing conch shells on a daily basis; however, many traditional cultural practises are still strong in Shefa. Despite the inward-bound Western influence, people predominantly consume traditional foods, such as coconuts, bananas, and island cabbage, rather than packaged foods.
Along with tourism and hospitality, subsistence agriculture and fishing are major economic activities. Hospitality venues include the many and increasing kava bars, or ‘nakamals’, that are dotted around Port Vila and greater Shefa Province. Substantial financial boosts into communities generally come from land sales which in turn insights land disputes and displacement from traditional lands reducing the possibility for subsistence agriculture by some of the communities closer to Vila.
Shefa Province is the gateway for many tourists into other parts of Vanuatu. Underwater wonderlands, endangered aquatic species, lush bush, active volcanos, living culture make up the diverse landscapes and experiences that await the tourist to Shefa Province. Specific tourist attractions include the Mele-Maat Cascades, the world's first underwater post office off the shore of Hideaway Island, the Vanuatu Cultural Centre, and tours to Chief Roi Mata's Domain. Port Vila is noted for its many high-quality restaurants and international cuisine.
As the main industry of Shefa Province tourism and hospitality is gaining a lot of interest from ni-Vanuatu as a potential business, and there are plenty of bungalows located throughout the Province. The accommodation ranges from the flashy and boutique to the quaint and provincial to the rustic and island style and everything in between.
The market for Shefa tourism is currently honeymooners, cruise shippers and couples with the main draw cards for tourists being proximity to quality tourism infrastructure in Port Vila, Vanuatu culture, World War II history, and marine activities. With the wide and readily available bungalow market opening up there is increasing potential for backpacker tourism within Shefa Province, Vanuatu and the entire South Pacific.
The roads are not regularly maintained or graded and the few sealed roads are located close to Port Vila. Funding from the Millennium Challenge Account Vanuatu has been used to seal the entire ring road and satellite roads of Efate.
There are 5 airports in Shefa Province. The largest is the Bauerfield International Airport of Port Vila, serviced by numerous international carriers including Air Vanuatu, Qantas, Virgin Australia, Air New Zealand, and Fiji Airways. On Epi there are two regional airports, Lamen Bay Airport and Valesdir Airport. In the Shepherd Islands there are two more, Tongoa Airport and Siwo Airport on Emae. The regional airports are all serviced by Air Vanuatu.
Major wharfs are located in Port Vila, Efate and Lamen Bay, Epi Island, which are serviced by cargo and cruise ships.
Port Vila, or simply Vila, is the capital and largest city of Vanuatu and is on the island of Efate.
Air Vanuatu is an airline with its head office in the Air Vanuatu House, Port Vila, Vanuatu. It is Vanuatu's national flag carrier, operating to Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia and points in the South Pacific. Its main base is Bauerfield International Airport, Port Vila.
Efate is an island in the Pacific Ocean which is part of the Shefa Province in Vanuatu. It is also known as Île Vate.
The Central Vanuatu languages form a linkage of Southern Oceanic languages spoken in central Vanuatu.
Epi is an island in Shefa Province, Vanuatu, at the north end of the Shepherd Islands.
The Shepherd Islands are a group of islands lying between the larger islands of Epi and Éfaté, in the Shefa province of Vanuatu. The aggregate land area is 88 square kilometres. They were named by Captain Cook after Anthony Shepherd, a British astronomer and friend of Cook.
Emae is an island in the Shepherd Islands, Shefa, Vanuatu.
North Efate, also known as Nakanamanga or Nguna, is an Oceanic language spoken on the northern area of Efate in Vanuatu, as well as on a number of islands off the northern coast. Efate Island is an island in the center of Vanuatu, where North Efate subsists of a region that encompasses the regions bordered by Tuktuk Point in the South and Samoan point in the north. The influx of missionaries was characteristic of a change in indigenous perspectives where much of the traditions were destroyed or altered. Vanuatu has some of the highest language densities in the world. The population of speakers is recorded to be 9,500.
Roi Mata was a powerful 13th century Melanesian chief from what is now Vanuatu. His elaborate grave, containing the bodies of over 25 members of his retinue, was discovered by French archaeologist José Garanger in 1967 and inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2008. Garanger was able to locate the grave on Eretoka island by analyzing local folklore. According to legend, when Roi Mata conquered the land, his first goal was to unite the tribes to form an army.
Nguna Island is an outer island off the north coast of Efate, Vanuatu in Undine Bay.
Vanuatu, officially known as the Republic of Vanuatu, is an island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago, which is of volcanic origin, is some 1,750 kilometres (1,090 mi) east of northern Australia, 500 kilometres (310 mi) north-east of New Caledonia, west of Fiji, and southeast of the Solomon Islands, near New Guinea. The nation's largest town and the capital Port Vila is situated on Efate Island.
Emae is a Polynesian outlier language of Vanuatu.
Lelepa is an island in the southwestern Pacific island nation of Vanuatu. It is located off the northwest coast of the island of Efate.
Pélé Island, sometimes spelled Pele in English, is a volcanic island located 11,2 miles north of the island of Éfaté in the Shefa Province of the Republic of Vanuatu. It has a total area of 1.7 square miles, Pélé is inhabited by about 200-220 Ni-Vanuatu villagers residing in the four villages: Worsiviu, Worearu, Piliura, and Launamoa. Pélé Island is a part of the MPA Nguna-Pele Marine Protected Area, which was established in 2003, and is a popular Vanuatuan diving location. The Nguna-Pele Marine Protected Area covers a total area of 11.5 sq. mi., including numerous reefs, sea grass beds, mangrove forests and intertidal lagoons. The Nguna-Pele Marine Protection Agency is located in the village of Piliura, and mounts an exhibition and sells T-shirts. Income from tourism is distributed by the Village Tourism Committee and supports aims as village water supply projects. The island can be visited daily by boat from the Paonangisu area by the town of Emua on Éfaté's north coast. There are also yachts available both from Emua and Nguna for day and overnight charters to the island. The island is nearly adjacent to the island of Nguna, with a small passage no deeper than 33 yards separating the two. It has a tropical climate and has a maximum elevation of 650 feet at its highest. Much of the island is extremely steep and rocks prevent you from walking along the coastline around the island. White sandy beaches are found in Piliura, Worearu, Laonamoa, and Sake. Overpopulation has led to a steady migration from Pele villages to southern Nguna in recent times.
Mataso is an island in the Shefa of Vanuatu in the Pacific Ocean. The island is a part of Shepherd Islands archipelago.
Ifira is an offshore island of efate located in Shefa Province of Vanuatu in the Pacific Ocean.
Eretoka is a small uninhabited island in Shefa Province of Vanuatu in the Pacific Ocean. The island lies off the western coast of Efate Island. There is a lighthouse built in the 1960s.
Tongoa Island is an inhabited island in Shefa Province of Vanuatu in the Pacific Ocean.
Lamen Island is an inhabited island in Shefa Province of Vanuatu in the Pacific Ocean. The island is a part of Shepherd Islands archipelago.