The former French and British condominium of New Hebrides became the independent state Vanuatu in 1980. Modern topographic mapping of the group was first carried out by the French Institut Géographique National (IGN) who established two series in the 1960s and 1970s. A 29-sheet 1:50,000 scale map with 20 m contours and 15-sheet 1:100,000 scale series with 40 m contours were published, but both series were not revised after independence. The British Directorate of Overseas Surveys (DOS) compiled 1:2,500 scale urban mapping of Port Vila and Luganville in the mid-1970s.
After 1980 the Vanuatu Department of Lands and Surveys (VDLS) took over responsibility for the mapping of Vanuatu. They revised the single-sheet 1:1,000,000 scale map of the islands and used overseas aid programs to establish a cadastral mapping capability in Port Vila. This program included urban mapping at 1:2,500, 1:5,000 and 1:10,000 scales for land registration. In the late 1980s new aerial coverage was flown, and Australian aid programs assisted topographic mapping. A new 1:50,000 scale map was started from 1993 using the Vanuatu Map Grid on the UTM projection, WGS 84. This map has different sheet lines from the earlier French 1:50,000 scale mapping.
Soviet military topographic mapping of Vanuatu exists at the following scale: 1:1,000,000 (5 sheets, complete coverage, published in 1973). This product is available in print, digital raster and digital vector GIS formats from East View Geospatial.
A two-sheet bathymetric map of the area was compiled by ORSTOM. The South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) has also compiled bathymetric charting of the seas around Vanuatu, while the British Hydrographic Office (HO) publishes nautical charting of the seas around the islands.
Geological mapping of the islands was undertaken by the British Directorate of Overseas Surveys (DOS) (now Ordnance Survey International (OSI)) in the 1970s, in conjunction with the British Geological Survey (BGS), resulting in a full-color 11-sheet 1:100,000 scale geological map. Some limited revision has taken place, including new mapping of the island of Efate and a single-sheet 1:1,000,000 scale map of Vanuatu.
In 1992 two uncontrolled color photomaps were published for Port Vila and Luganville, updating French urban mapping published a decade earlier.
Recent environmental inventorying of Vanuatu has been funded through Australian aid projects and has led to the establishment of a natural resources GIS based in the Vanuatu Forestry Unit.
The Institut Français de Recherche Scientifique pour le Développement en Coopération (ORSTOM) compiled an important thematic atlas of the islands in the 1970s which remains the most useful resource mapping of Vanuatu. This seven-volume work maps soil, relief, geology and vegetation for all major islands at 1:100,000 and 1:250,000 scales, with a separate French and English accompanying text.
Australian publishers Hema issues a general tourist map of the islands.