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World's First Underwater Post Office and Philatelic Art

Late New Hebrides Rises from its Volcanoes

There are more than a few places around the globe with Scottish connections, but perhaps one of the most surprising is an idyllic collection of South Pacific Islands which was the inspiration for James Michener’s wartime memoirs that were immortalised as the musical South Pacific. Known for 70 years when they were an Anglo-French Condominium as the New Hebrides, they changed their name on independence in 1980 to Vanuatu. In 1987, following the devastation of the capital Port Vila by Cyclone Umma, its Prime Minister, Dr Father Walter Lini, asked Prestoungrange to establish a private, community based, action learning management school there which is today a successful member of the global International Management Centres Association as Revans University.

Like so many such small countries the ending of imperial rule was both good and bad news at one and the same time. They had to find new economic activities to sustain and generate wealth and in Vanuatu’s case they turned to tourism, offshore financial services and philately.

They had the whole philatelic world agog two years ago when they launched the world’s first underwater post office as their contribution to Xtreme Post which will shortly be followed by the opportunity to post mail from the top of a live volcano.

They have lately excelled with two recent stamp issues capturing attention in Scotland – Sunsets which are of course also one of the splendours of East Lothian; and the use of postage stamp design to tell their own history of the Lapita peoples who first settled their islands more than 3000 years ago.

Click on images to enlarge

Published Date: March 14th 2005

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