Malakula Island is the second-largest island in the nation of Vanuatu, in the Pacific Ocean region of Melanesia. Its name, coined by James Cook, is apparently derived from the French mal au cul (literally, 'pain in the arse') and was inspired by the presence of cannibals, volcanic activity and other unpleasant features of the island at the time of its discovery.
It is separated from the islands of Espiritu Santo and Malo by the Bougainville Strait. Lakatoro, capital of Malampa Province, is situated on its eastern shore and is the largest settlement in the island.On the northeastern side of the island there is a group of islands called Small Islands, amongst them (from N to S) Vao, Atchin, Wala (island), Rano, Norsup, Uripiv and Uri (island).
It has a maximum elevation of 879 m. It is called as Mt. Liambele. In 1768, Bougainville gave his name to the straits which separate Malakula from Santo.
During 1914 and 1915 the British anthropologist John Layard lived on the island taking anthropological notes as well as phononographic and photographic records during his fieldwork. On his return to Britain he donated copies of the more than 400 photographs on plates to the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge.