Pentecost - History and Cultural Relations

The first contacts between ni-Vanuatu and Europeans took place in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but there was initial reluctance to trade with European navigators. From the early nineteenth century, Europeans sought whales, sandalwood, and bêche-de-mer in the islands with more success. In 1839 the London Missionary Society, and later the Presbyterians, set up missions in the southern islands and were followed by Anglicans, Marists, and, in the twentieth century, Seventh-Day Adventists and the Church of Christ. From 1857 thousands of men and some women were recruited as laborers to work on plantations in New Caledonia, Queensland, Fiji, and islands in Vanuatu. In 1906 the rivalry between British and French influences was resolved by the creation of the Condominium of the New Hebrides. Indigenous cash cropping of copra started in the late 1920s, and during World War II the island of Santo was a major staging base for American forces. Beginning in the late 1960s anticolonial and nationalist sentiments crystallized, and in 1980 Vanuatu achieved political independence.

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