New Hebrides, a group of volcanic islands in the S. Pacific ocean, N. E. of New Caledonia, between lat. 13° 15' and 20° 10' S., and Ion. 166° 30' and 170° 10' E.; area, about 5,700 sq. m.; pop. about 134,000. Besides a great number of islets and rocks, they comprise about 20 islands of considerable size, the most important of which are Espiritu Santo, 70 m. long by about 25 m. broad; Mallicollo, 60 by 28 m., with a good harbor called Port Sandwich, in lat. 10° 25' S., Ion. 167° 46' E.; Erromango, Tanna, Ambrim, Annatom, Banks, Sandwich, and Whitsuntide. Aurora, one of the most fertile of the group, said to have been 36 m. long by more than 5 m. broad, disappeared in 1871, leaving no trace of its existence. There is an active volcano in Tanna. Most of the islands are hilly, and there are high mountains. With the exception of Erromango and some smaller ones, they are all well wooded and supplied with good water, and present a luxuriant vegetation. Sandal wood and ebony are found. Yams, taro, shaddocks, bananas, limes, cucumbers, cocoanuts, and a species of sweet potato are cultivated. There are few animals; the most remarkable is a diminutive species of hog, which when full-grown is not larger than a rabbit.
The natives, of the Papuan negro race, are less intelligent than the other South sea islanders, and are accused of cannibalism. Their habits are disgusting, their persons filthy, and their faces smeared with turmeric and charcoal. The use of betel nut and chunam is general; and the language is said to possess a similarity to the Malay. They have no canoes, and use a sort of raft, on which they only venture a few hundred yards from the shore. - The group was discovered by Quiros in 1606; but he only saw the N. and largest island, and supposing it to be a portion of the long-sought southern continent, he named it Australia del Espiritu Santo. He speaks of it as one land, and made no attempt to verify his conjecture. Bougainville, more than a century and a half later, ascertained that the N. portion consisted of several islands, which he called the Great Cyclades. Cook discovered the greater part of the S. chain in 1773, and called the whole group the New Hebrides; and as his discovery much exceeded in extent those previously made, this name has superseded that applied by Bougainville. Erromango, one of the most southerly islands, was the scene of the murder of the well known missionary the Rev. John Williams (Nov. 20, 1839).