Richard Butler | Exclusive Report by All About Vanuatu | DEC 13th, 2022

When I first visited Vanuatu, I was surprised by the outlying islands such as the Pentecost island native banking system. Here, pigs are considered money, and you can even pay for a wife with pigs! At first, I found this system quite confusing. But after living in Vanuatu for a while, I began to understand how it works.

The key to the Vanuatu banking system is pig tusks. Tusks are considered a form of currency, and they can be used to buy anything from food to houses. In fact, there’s even a saying in Vanuatu that goes, “pig tusk, big house.” This means that if you have enough pig tusks, you can afford a big house!!!

While pig tusks are the primary form of currency in Vanuatu, they’re not the only form. You can also use shells as currency. In fact, shells are often used for smaller transactions, such as buying lunch at the market.


So why do pigs have such value in Vanuatu? Well, pigs are considered a symbol of wealth and prosperity. They’re also an important part of the culture and diet here. In fact, most families keep at least one pig as a pet.

A local village mother was very proud of having 5 daughters. She stated that her retirement was already confirmed to be a good one as the daughters are married off and her equity level in the bank will spike up as this happens.

As someone who is new to the country, it took me some time to get used to the native banking system here in Vanuatu.
But now that I’ve been living here for a while,
I’ve come to appreciate it!

Special note Vanuatu has 5 traditional banks, all with swift for international cash transfers and the pig’s tusks are found on the national flag as well; as the local beer is called tusker, a most refreshing drink for the Tropics that I can confirm from personal experience 🙂