The New Student's Reference Work/New Hebrides

New Heb′rides, a chain of islands in Melanesia, west of Fiji and northeast of New Caledonia in the western Pacific, running from northeast to southwest. There are over 30 islands in the group, but only about 20 are populated. All are of volcanic origin, and some still have active volcanoes. The largest are Espiritu Santo, 70 miles by 40; Malikolo, 56 by 20; Ambrym, 22 by 17; Sandwich, 30 by 15; Erromango, 30 by 22; and Tanna, 18 by 10. All are high and well-wooded, and the moist, clear, warm atmosphere allows the cultivation of tropical fruits and products, as the yam, taro, banana, breadfruit, sugar cane, arrow-root and cocoanut. The people, who belong to the Papuan and Polynesian races, are cannibals. The chain was discovered by Quiros, the Portuguese, in 1606, and explored by Captain Cook in 1773. They are claimed by the British and by the French, and for the protection of life and property are under the authority of a mixed commission of French and English naval officers on Pacific stations. Population estimated at about 80,000.