Bislama is an English based pidgin, related to the Solomon Islands Pijin and the Papua New Guinea Tok Pisin. It is a national language in the Republic of Vanuatu (Ripablik blong Vanuatu) and one of the three official languages of this country, along with English and French. The vast majority of Bislama words come from English; the rest come from French or the indigenous languages of Vanuatu.
Bislama serves as the lingua franca in Vanuatu, where over 100 other languages are spoken. It enables islanders to communicate amongst themselves, and also to communicate with English-speakers foreigners. There are about 6,200 native speakers of Bislama, and 200,000 people who speak it as a second language.
The name of Bislama comes from Beach-la-Mar, which is an anglicized version of the French bêche de mer (sea cucumber), which itself is a gallicized version of the Portuguese bicho do mar. During the 19th century and the pidgin language that developed between local labourers to communicate amongst themselves and with their overseers was named after the sea cucumbers being gathered.
The first Bislama dictionary was published in 1995 and this helped to standardise the spelling of written Bislama.