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Republic of the Fiji Islands
Matanitu Tu-Vaka-i-koya ko Viti  (Fijian)
Fijī Ripablik
फ़िजी द्वीप समूह गणराज्य
  (Fiji Hindi)
Flag Coat of arms
MottoRerevaka na Kalou ka Doka na Tui
Fear God and honour the Queen
AnthemGod Bless Fiji
(and largest city)
18°10′S 178°27′E / 18.167°S 178.45°E / -18.167; 178.45
Official language(s) English, Bau Fijian, and Hindi[1]
Demonym Fiji Islander, Fijian
Government Military junta and Parlimentary Republic
 -  Paramount Chief of Fiji Queen Elizabeth II1
 -  President Epeli Nailatikau
 -  Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama
 -  GCC Chairman Ratu Epeli Nailatikau
Independence from the United Kingdom 
 -  Date 10 October 1970 
 -  Total 18,274 km2 (155th)
7,056 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) negligible
 -  2009 estimate 849,000[2] (156th)
 -  Density 46.4/km2 (148th)
120.3/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $3.678 billion[3] 
 -  Per capita $4,196[3] 
GDP (nominal) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $3.589 billion[3] 
 -  Per capita $4,094[3] 
HDI (2007) 0.762 (medium) (92nd)
Currency Fijian dollar (FJD)
Time zone (UTC+12)
 -  Summer (DST)  (UTC+13[4])
Drives on the left
Internet TLD .fj
Calling code 679
1 Recognised by the Great Council of Chiefs.

Fiji en-us-Fiji.ogg /ˈfiːdʒiː/ (Fijian: Matanitu ko Viti; Fijian Hindustani: फ़िजी), officially the Republic of the Fiji Islands (Fijian: Matanitu Tu-Vaka-i-koya ko Viti; Fijian Hindustani: फ़िजी द्वीप समूह गणराज्य,[citation needed] fiji dvip samooh ganarajya), is an island nation in the South Pacific Ocean east of Vanuatu, west of Tonga and south of Tuvalu. The country comprises an archipelago of about 322 islands, of which 106 are permanently inhabited, and 522 islets. The two major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, account for 87% of the population.



Fiji's main island is known as Viti Levu and it is from this that the name "Fiji" is derived, though the common English pronunciation is based on that of their island neighbors in Tonga. Its emergence was best described as follows:

Fijians first impressed themselves on European consciousness through the writings of the members of the expeditions of Cook who met them in Tonga. They were described as formidable warriors and ferocious cannibals, builders of the finest vessels in the Pacific, but not great sailors. They inspired awe amongst the Tongans, and all their Manufactures, especially bark cloth and clubs, were highly esteemed and much in demand. They called their home Viti, but the Tongans called it Fisi, and it was by this foreign pronunciation, Fiji, first promulgated by Captain James Cook, that these islands are now known.[5]


Pottery excavated from Fijian towns shows that Fiji was settled before or around 3500–1000 BC, although the question of Pacific migration still lingers. It is believed that the Lapita people or the ancestors of the Polynesians settled the islands first but not much is known of what became of them after the Melanesians arrived; they may have had some influence on the new culture, and archaeological evidence shows that they would have then moved on to Tonga, Samoa and Hawai'i.

The first settlements in Fiji were started by voyaging traders and settlers from the west about 3500 years ago. Lapita pottery shards have been found at numerous excavations around the country. Aspects of Fijian culture are similar to Melanesian culture to the western Pacific but have stronger connection to the older Polynesian cultures such as those of Samoa and Tonga. Trade between these three nations long before European contact is quite obvious with Canoes made from native Fijian trees found in Tonga and Tongan words being part of the language of the Lau group of islands. Pots made in Fiji have been found in Samoa and even the Marquesas Islands. Across 1000 kilometres from east to west, Fiji has been a nation of many languages. Fiji's history was one of settlement but also of mobility. Over the centuries, a unique Fijian culture developed. Constant warfare and cannibalism between warring tribes was quite rampant and very much part of everyday life.[6] During the 19th century, Ratu Udre Udre is said to have consumed 872 people and to have made a pile of stones to record his achievement.[7] According to Deryck Scarr ("A Short History of Fiji", 1984, page 3), "Ceremonial occasions saw freshly-killed corpses piled up for eating. 'Eat me!' was a proper ritual greeting from a commoner to a chief." Scarr also reported that the posts that supported the chief's house or the priest's temple would have sacrificed bodies buried underneath them, with the rationale that the spirit of the ritually sacrificed person would invoke the gods to help support the structure, and "men were sacrificed whenever posts had to be renewed (Scarr, page 3). Also, when a new boat, or drua, was launched, if it was not hauled over men as rollers, crushing them to death, "it would not be expected to float long" (Scarr, page 19"). Fijians today regard those times as "na gauna ni tevoro" (time of the devil). The ferocity of the cannibal lifestyle deterred European sailors from going near Fijian waters, giving Fiji the name Cannibal Isles, in turn Fiji was unknown to the rest of the outside world.[8]

The Dutch explorer Abel Tasman visited Fiji in 1643 while looking for the Great Southern Continent.[9] Europeans settled on the islands permanently beginning in the nineteenth century.[10] The first European settlers to Fiji were Beachcombers, missionaries, whalers and those engaged in the then booming sandalwood and bêche-de-mer trade.

Ratu Seru Epenisa Cakobau was a Fijian chief and warlord from the island of Bau, off the eastern coast of Viti Levu, who united part of Fiji's warring tribes under his leadership. He then styled himself as King of Fiji or Tui Viti and then to Vunivalu or Protector after the Cession of Fiji to Great Britain. The British subjugated the islands as a colony in 1874, and the British brought over Indian contract labourers to work on the sugar plantations as the then Governor and also the first governor of Fiji, Arthur Charles Hamilton-Gordon, adopted a policy disallowing the use of native labour and no interference in their culture and way of life. In 1875-76, measles epidemic killed over 40,000 Fijians,[11] about one-third of the Fijian population.[12] The population in 1942 was approximately 210,000 of whom 94,000 were Indians, 102,000 native Fijians, 2,000 Chinese and 5,000 Europeans.[13]

The British granted Fiji independence in 1970. Democratic rule was interrupted by two military coups in 1987 because the government was perceived as dominated by the Indo-Fijian (Indian) community. The second 1987 coup saw the British monarchy and the Governor General replaced by a non-executive President, and the country changed the long form of its name from Dominion of Fiji to Republic of Fiji (and to Republic of the Fiji Islands in 1997). The coups and accompanying civil unrest contributed to heavy Indian emigration; the population loss resulted in economic difficulties but ensured that Melanesians became the majority.[14]

In 1990, the new Constitution institutionalised the ethnic Fijian domination of the political system. The Group Against Racial Discrimination (GARD) was formed to oppose the unilaterally imposed constitution and to restore the 1970 constitution. Sitiveni Rabuka, the Lieutenant Colonel who carried out the 1987 coup became Prime Minister in 1992, following elections held under the new constitution. Three years later, Rabuka established the Constitutional Review Commission, which in 1997 led to a new Constitution, which was supported by most leaders of the indigenous Fijian and Indo-Fijian communities. Fiji is re-admitted to the Commonwealth of Nations.

History of Fiji
Coat of Arms of Fiji
This article is part of a series
Early history
Discovery of Fiji
The rise and fall of Cakobau
Colonial Fiji
Modern history of Fiji
Constitutional crisis of 1977
Coups of 1987
Military-church relations
Coup of 2000
Timeline · Mutinies · Aftermath
Mara deposed · Iloilo plot
Investigations · Trials
Court Martial · Military unrest
Reconciliation Commission
Supporters · Opponents
Qualified positions · Military opposition
Religious reaction · Foreign reaction
Crisis of 2005–2006
Timeline · Reaction
Baledrokadroka incident
Coup of 2006
2009 Fijian constitutional crisis

Fiji Portal
 v • d • e 
Levuka, 1842.

The new millennium brought along another coup, instigated by George Speight, that effectively toppled the government of Mahendra Chaudhry, who became Prime Minister following the 1997 constitution. Commodore Frank Bainimarama assumed executive power after the resignation, possibly forced, of President Mara. Fiji was rocked by two mutinies at Suva's Queen Elizabeth Barracks, later in 2000 when rebel soldiers went on the rampage. The High Court ordered the reinstatement of the constitution, and in September 2001, a general election was held to restore democracy, which was won by interim Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase's Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua party.[citation needed]

In 2005, amid much controversy, the Qarase government proposed a Reconciliation and Unity Commission, with power to recommend compensation for victims of the 2000 coup, and amnesty for its perpetrators. However, the military strongly opposed this bill, especially the army's commander, Frank Bainimarama. He agreed with detractors who said that it was a sham to grant amnesty to supporters of the present government who played roles in the coup. His attack on the legislation, which continued unremittingly throughout May and into June and July, further strained his already tense relationship with the government. In late November 2006 and early December 2006, Bainimarama was instrumental in the 2006 Fijian coup d'état. Bainimarama handed down a list of demands to Qarase after a bill was put forward to parliament, part of which would have offered pardons to participants in the 2000 coup attempt. He gave Qarase an ultimatum date of 4 December to accede to these demands or to resign from his post. Qarase adamantly refused to either concede or resign and on 5 December President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, was said to have signed a legal order dissolving Parliament after meeting with Bainimarama.

In April 2009, the Fiji Court of Appeal ruled that the 2006 coup had been illegal. This began the 2009 Fijian constitutional crisis. President Iloilo abrogated the constitution, removed all office holders under the Constitution including all judges and the Governor of the Central Bank. He then reappointed Bainimarama as Prime Minister under his "New Order" and imposed a "Public Emergency Regulation" limiting internal travel and allowing press censorship.

For a country of its size, Fiji has large armed forces, and has been a major contributor to UN peacekeeping missions in various parts of the world. In addition, a significant number of former military personnel have served in the lucrative security sector in Iraq following the 2003 US-led invasion.[citation needed]


Politics of Fiji normally take place in the framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister of Fiji is the head of government, the President the head of state, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Parliament of Fiji. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Since independence there have been four coups in Fiji, two in 1987, one in 2000 and one in late 2006. The military has been either ruling directly, or heavily influencing governments since 1987.


2006 Military takeover

Citing corruption in the government, Commodore Josaia Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama, Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, staged a military takeover on the 5th of December 2006 against the Prime Minister that he himself had installed after the 2000 coup. There had been two military coups in 1987 and one in 2000. The commodore took over the powers of the presidency and dissolved the parliament, paving the way for the military to continue the take over. The coup was the culmination of weeks of speculation following conflict between the elected Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, and Commodore Bainimarama. Bainimarama had repeatedly issued demands and deadlines to the Prime Minister. At particular issue was previously pending legislation to pardon those involved in the 2000 coup. Bainimarama named Jona Senilagakali caretaker Prime Minister. The next week Bainimarama said he would ask the Great Council of Chiefs to restore executive powers to President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo.[15]

On 4 January 2007, the military announced that it was restoring executive power to President Iloilo,[16] who made a broadcast endorsing the actions of the military.[17] The next day, Iloilo named Bainimarama as the interim Prime Minister,[18] indicating that the Military was still effectively in control.

In the wake of the take over, reports have emerged of intimidation of some of those critical of the interim regime. It is alleged that two individuals have died in military custody since December 2006. These deaths have been investigated and suspects charged but not yet brought to court.

On 9 April 2009 the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court decision that Bainimarama's take-over of Qarase's government was legal, and declared the Interim Government illegal. Bainimarama agreed to step down as Interim PM immediately, along with his government, and President Iloilo was to appoint "a distinguished person independent of the parties to this litigation as caretaker Prime Minister, ..... to direct the issuance of writs for an election ..."

On 10 April 2009 President Iloilo suspended the Constitution of Fiji, dismissed the Court of Appeal and, in his own words, "appoint[ed] [him]self as the Head of the State of Fiji under a new legal order".[19] As President, Iloilo had been Head of State prior to his abrogation of the Constitution, but that position had been determined by the Constitution itself. The "new legal order" did not depend on the Constitution, thus requiring a "reappointment" of the Head of State. "You will agree with me that this is the best way forward for our beloved Fiji", he said. Bainimarama was re-appointed as Interim Prime Minister; he, in turn, re-instated his previous Cabinet.

On 13 July 2009, Fiji became the first nation ever to be expelled from the Pacific Islands Forum, for its failure to hold democratic elections by that date.[20]

On 1 September 2009, Fiji became only the second country to be suspended from the Commonwealth of Nations. The action was taken because Commodore Frank Bainimarama refused to hold elections by 2010, elections that the Commonwealth of Nations had demanded after the 2006 coup. He states a need for more time to end a voting system he claims favours ethnic Fijians. Critics claim that he has suspended the constitution and was responsible for human rights violations by arresting and detaining opponents.[21][22]


Ethnic groups

Native Fijian women, 1935

The population of Fiji is mostly made up of native Fijians, who are Melanesians (54.3%), although a few also have Polynesian ancestry, and Indo-Fijians (38.1%), descendants of Indian contract labourers brought to the islands by the British in the nineteenth century. Most of these Indo-Fijians are or are descendants of Bhojpuri-speaking Biharis. The percentage of the population of Indian descent has declined significantly over the last two decades due to migration for various reasons.[23] The Fiji coup of 2000 has provoked a violent backlash against the Indo-Fijians.[24][25] There is also a small but significant group of descendants of indentured laborers from Solomon Islands.

About 1.2% are Rotuman — natives of Rotuma Island, whose culture has more in common with countries such as Tonga or Samoa than with the rest of Fiji. There are also small, but economically significant, groups of Europeans, Chinese, and other Pacific island minorities. The total membership of other ethnic groups of Pacific Islanders is about 7300. Tongans, who as traders and warriors have lived in Fiji for hundreds of years, form the largest part of this community. In the old days there was active commerce between Tonga and Fiji, and later in the history of this relationship the Fijians in the Lau Islands became vassals to the King of Tonga. One particular reason Tongans and Samoans came to Fiji was to build drua (large double-hulled canoes) which they couldn’t build on their own islands because of the lack of proper timber.[citation needed]

Relationships between ethnic Fijians and Indo-Fijians at a political level have often been strained, and the tension between the two communities has dominated politics in the islands for the past generation. The level of tension varies between different regions of the country.[26]


Within Fiji, the term Fijian refers solely to indigenous Fijians: it denotes an ethnicity, not a nationality. Constitutionally, citizens of Fiji are referred to as "Fiji Islanders" though the term Fiji Nationals is used for official purposes. In August 2008, shortly before the proposed People's Charter for Change, Peace and Progress was due to be released to the public, it was announced that it recommended a change in the name of Fiji's citizens. If the proposal were adopted, all citizens of Fiji, whatever their ethnicity, would be called "Fijians". The proposal would change the English name of indigenous Fijians from "Fijians" to itaukei, the Fijian word for indigenous Fijians.[27]

Deposed Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase reacted by stating that the name "Fijian" belonged exclusively to indigenous Fijians, and that he would oppose any change in legislation enabling non-indigenous Fijians to use it.[28] The Methodist Church, to which a large majority of indigenous Fijians belong, also reacted strongly to the proposal, stating that allowing any Fiji citizen to call themselves "Fijian" would be "daylight robbery" inflicted on the indigenous population.[29]

In an address to the nation during the constitutional crisis of April 2009, military leader and interim Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, who has been at the forefront of the attempt to change the definition of "Fijian", stated:

"I know we all have our different ethnicities, our different cultures and we should, we must, celebrate our diversity and richness. However, at the same time we are all Fijians. We are all equal citizens. We must all be loyal to Fiji; we must be patriotic; we must put Fiji first."[30]


Indigenous Fijians are mostly Christian (97.2% at the 1996 census), and the Indo-Fijians mostly Hindu (70.7%) and Muslim (17.9%). Breakdown per the CIA world factbook: Christian 64.5% (Methodist 34.6%, Roman Catholic 9.1%, Assembly of God 5.7%, Seventh Day Adventist 3.9%, Anglican 0.8%, other 10.4%), Hindu 27.9%, Muslim 6.3%, Sikh 0.3%, other or unspecified 0.3%, none 0.7% (2007 census).

The largest Christian denomination is the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma. With 36.2% of the total population (including almost two-thirds of ethnic Fijians), its share of the population is higher in Fiji than in any other nation. Roman Catholics (8.9%), the Assemblies of God (4%), the Seventh-day Adventists (2.9%) and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) (2.2%), also are significant. Fiji also is the base for the Anglican Diocese of Polynesia (part of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia). These and other denominations also have small numbers of Indo-Fijian members; Christians of all kinds comprise 6.1% of the Indo-Fijian population. Much major Roman Catholic missionary activity was conducted through the Vicariate Apostolic of Fiji, which has since been renamed the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Suva, which spans the whole of Fiji.[citation needed]

Hindus belong mostly to the Sanatan sect (74.3% of all Hindus) or else are unspecified (22%). The small Arya Samaj sect claims the membership of some 3.7% of all Hindus in Fiji. Muslims are mostly Sunni (59.7%) and Shia (36.7%), with an Ahmadiyya minority (3.6%) regarded as heretical by more orthodox Muslims. The Sikh religion comprises 0.9% of the Indo-Fijian population, or 0.4% of the national population in Fiji. Their ancestors came from the Punjab region of India. The Bahá'í Faith has over 21 Local Spiritual Assemblies throughout Fiji and Baha'is live in more than 80 localities.[31] The first Baha'i in the islands was a New Zealander who arrived in 1924.[31] There is also a small Jewish population. Every year the Israeli Embassy organises a Passover celebration with approximately 100 people attending.[citation needed]

Political divisions

Map of the divisions of Fiji

Fiji is divided into Four Major Divisions:

These divisions are further divided into 14 provinces:

Fiji was also divided into 3 Confederacies or Governments during the reign of Cakobau, though these are not considered political divisions, they are still considered important in the social divisions of the indigenous Fijians:


Map of Fiji
Scenery on Monuriki

Fiji covers a total area of some 194,000 square kilometres (75,000 sq mi) of which around 10% is land.

Fiji is the hub of the South West Pacific, midway between Vanuatu and the Kingdom of Tonga. The archipelago is located between 176° 53′ east and 178° 12′ west. The 180° meridian runs through Taveuni but the International Dateline is bent to give uniform time to all of the Fiji group. With the exception of Rotuma, the Fiji group lies between 15° 42′ and 20° 02′ south. Rotuma is located 400 kilometres north of the group, 670 km from Suva, 12° 30′ south of the equator.

Fiji consists of 322 islands (of which 106 are inhabited) and 522 smaller islets. The two most important islands are Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. The islands are mountainous, with peaks up to 1,300 metres (4,250 ft), and covered with thick tropical forests. Viti Levu hosts the capital city of Suva, and is home to nearly three quarters of the population. Other important towns include Nadi (the location of the international airport), and the second city -Lautoka (the location of a large sugar mill and a seaport). The main towns on Vanua Levu are Labasa and Savusavu. Other islands and island groups include Taveuni and Kadavu (the third and fourth largest islands respectively), the Mamanuca Group (just outside Nadi) and Yasawa Group, which are popular tourist destinations, the Lomaiviti Group, outside of Suva, and the remote Lau Group. Rotuma, some 500 kilometres (310 mi) north of the archipelago, has a special administrative status in Fiji. Fiji's nearest neighbour is Tonga. The climate in Fiji is tropical and warm most of the year round.


Fiji, endowed with forest, mineral, and fish resources, is one of the more developed of the Pacific island economies, though still with a large subsistence sector. Natural resources include timber, fish, gold, copper, offshore oil potential, hydropower. Fiji experienced a period of rapid growth in the 1960s and 1970s but stagnated in the 1980s. The coup of 1987 caused further contraction. Economic liberalization in the years following the coup created a boom in the garment industry and a steady growth rate despite growing uncertainty of land tenure in the sugar industry. The expiration of leases for sugar cane farmers (along with reduced farm and factory efficiency) has led to a decline in sugar production despite a subsidized price. Subsidies for sugar have been provided by the EU and Fiji has been the second largest beneficiary after Mauritius.

Urbanization and expansion in the service sector have contributed to recent GDP growth. Sugar exports and a rapidly growing tourist industry — with 430,800 tourists in 2003[32] and increasing in the subsequent years — are the major sources of foreign exchange. Fiji is highly dependent on tourism for revenue. Sugar processing makes up one-third of industrial activity. Long-term problems include low investment and uncertain property rights. The political turmoil in Fiji has had a severe impact on the economy, which shrank by 2.8% in 2000 and grew by only 1% in 2001. The tourism sector recovered quickly, however, with visitor arrivals reaching pre-coup levels again during 2002, which has since resulted in a modest economic recovery. This recovery continued into 2003 and 2004 but grew by 1.7% in 2005 and grew by 2.0% in 2006. Although inflation is low, the policy indicator rate of the Reserve Bank of Fiji was raised by 1% to 3.25% in February 2006 due to fears of excessive consumption financed by debt. Lower interest rates have so far not produced greater investment for exports. However, there has been a housing boom from declining commercial mortgage rates. The tallest building in Fiji is the fourteen-storey Reserve Bank of Fiji Building in Suva, which was inaugurated in 1984. The Suva Central Commercial Centre, which opened in November 2005, was planned to outrank the Reserve Bank building at seventeen stories, but last-minute design changes made sure that the Reserve Bank building remains the tallest.

Trade with Fiji has been criticized due to the country's military dictatorship. In 2008, Fiji's interim Prime Minister and coup leader Frank Bainimarama announced election delays and that it would pull out of the Pacific Islands Forum in Niue, where Bainimarama would have met with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark.[33]


Huts in the Nausori Highlands

Fiji's culture is a rich mosaic of indigenous, Indian, Chinese and European traditions, comprising social polity, language, food (based mainly from the sea, casava, dalo & other vegetables), costume, belief systems, architecture, arts, craft, music, dance and sports.

The indigenous culture is very much active and living, and is a part of everyday life for the majority of the population. However, it has evolved with the introduction of old cultures like the Indian and Chinese ones, as well as a large influence from Europe, and from various Pacific neighbours of Fiji, mainly the Tongan and Samoan. The culture of Fiji has created a unique communal and national identity.[citation needed]


This is a list of holidays in Fiji:

The exact dates of public holidays vary from year to year, but the dates for this year and recent years can be found at the Fiji Government Web Site


Fijian is an Austronesian language of the Malayo-Polynesian family spoken in Fiji. It has 350 000 first-language speakers, which is less than half the population of Fiji, but another 200,000 speak it as a second language. The 1997 Constitution established Fijian as an official language of Fiji, along with English and Hindustani, and there is discussion about establishing it as the "national language", though English and Hindustani would remain official. Fijian is a VOS language.

The Fiji Islands developed many languages, some similar and some very different. Missionaries in the 1840s chose the language of one island off the southeast of the main island of Viti Levu, to be the official language of Fiji. This island, Bau, was home to Cakobau, the chief that eventually became the self forged "King" of Fiji. Missionaries were interested in documenting a language and in standardizing all of Fiji on one official language to make their job of translating and teaching in Fiji a bit easier. Standard Fijian is based on the language of Bau, which is an East Fijian language. There are many other dialects that make up the West Fijian languages including dialects spoken in the Nadroga/Navosa and those of the western island groups and provinces.


The national sport of Fiji is considered to be rugby union (see rugby union in Fiji). The national rugby union team is very successful given the size of the population of the country, and has competed at four Rugby World Cups, the first being in 1987, where they reached the quarter-finals. The Fiji national side did not match that feat again until the 2007 Rugby World Cup when they upset Wales 38–34 to progress to the quarter-finals. Fiji also competes in the Pacific Tri-Nations and the Pacific Nations Cup. The sport is governed by the Fiji Rugby Union which is a member of the Pacific Islands Rugby Alliance, and contributes to the Pacific Islanders rugby union team. At the club level there are the Colonial Cup and Pacific Rugby Cup. The Fiji sevens team is one of the most successful rugby sevens teams in the world, having won the two world cup titles and the 2006 IRB Series.

Rugby league is also widely played. The Fiji national rugby league team, known as Fiji Bati, has competed in the Rugby League World Cup on three occasions, with their best result coming when they made the semi-finals of the 2008 competition. The team also competes in the Pacific Cup.

Other than the codes of rugby, association football is also popular in Fiji. Fiji participates in FIFA in the Oceania Confederation. They defeated New Zealand 2–0 in the 2008 OFC Nations Cup.[34]

See also


  1. ^ Dr. A. Tschentscher, LL.M.. "Section 4 of Fiji Constitution". Retrieved 2009-05-03. 
  2. ^ Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division (2009) (.PDF). World Population Prospects, Table A.1. 2008 revision. United Nations. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Fiji". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ PDF article from Fiji Government on Line, section on Europeans in Fiji.
  6. ^ Peggy Reeves Sanday. "Divine hunger: cannibalism as a cultural system". p.151.
  7. ^ Peggy Reeves Sanday. "Divine hunger: cannibalism as a cultural system". p.166.
  8. ^ Pacific Peoples, Melanesia/Micronesia/Polynesia, Central Queensland University.
  9. ^ Abel Janszoon Tasman Biography,
  10. ^ Oceania - A Short History of Fiji, Jane Resture's Oceania Page
  11. ^ "Historical Timeline". Fiji Government Online.
  12. ^ "Timeline: Fiji " BBC News.
  13. ^ "World Battlefronts: Yanks in the Cannibal Isles". TIME. October 26, 1942.
  14. ^ Lal, Brij V (April 2003). "Fiji Islands: From Immigration to Emigration". Migration Policy Institute. Retrieved 2009-06-14. 
  15. ^ Phil Taylor (2006-12-06). "Fiji – alone under the gun". NZ Herald. Retrieved 2007-09-30. 
  16. ^ "Commander hands back Executive Authority to Ratu Iloilo". Fijivillage. 2007-01-04. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. 
  17. ^ "I support army takeover: Iloilo". Fijilive. 2007-01-04. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. 
  18. ^ "President swears in interim PM". Fijilive. 2007-01-05. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. 
  19. ^ "President's Address to the Nation", April 10, 2009 (Fiji government website)
  20. ^ "John Key firm on Fiji expulsion". TVNZ. 2009-07-13. Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ BBC NEWS
  23. ^ Fiji Islands: From Immigration to Emigration. Migration Information Source.
  24. ^ "Future bleak for Fiji's Indians". BBC News. July, 2000.
  25. ^ "Dealing with the dictator". The Australian. April 16, 2009.
  26. ^ Minority Rights Groups International, Fiji Islands Overview,, retrieved 2009-09-03 
  27. ^ "Charter proposes common Fijian name", August 4, 2008
  28. ^ "The Name “Fijian” Belongs to Indigenous - Qarase", FijiVillage, August 8, 2008
  29. ^ "Communalism is ‘to love thy neighbour'", Fiji Times, August 29, 2008
  30. ^ "PM Bainimarama - Address to the nation following appointment of Cabinet - 11 April 2009", Fiji government website
  31. ^ a b "Graceful trees mark anniversary". Baha'i World News Service. 2005-04-12. Retrieved 2006-12-09. 
  32. ^ Fiji Economy and Politics,Economy and Politics in Fiji,Economy and Politics at Fiji. Retrieved 10 May 2008.
  33. ^ Zealand, New (2008-08-19). "Democracy hopes dashed after Fiji pulls out of Pacific Forum". Retrieved 2009-05-03. 
  34. ^ Oceanian Nations Cup 2008,, retrieved 2009-09-06 


  • Wright, Ronald (1986). On Fiji Islands. Original from the University of Michigan, Digitized 5 December 2006. ISBN 067080634X.  Traces the colonization of the Fiji Islands, explains how the Fijians have managed to keep their language and culture intact, and describes modern Fiji society.
  • Derrick, Ronald Albert (1951). The Fiji Islands: A Geographical Handbook. Govt. Print. Dept Fiji, 334 pages, Original from the University of Michigan, Digitized 11 July 2006.  Details on Fiji its history and Geography.
  • Lal, Brij V. (1992). Broken Waves: A History of the Fiji Islands in the Twentieth Century. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0824814185.  Details of Fiji's History, Geography, Economy.
  • Back to the Chessboard: The Coup and the Re-Emergence of Pre-colonial Rivalries in Fiji. In: Kolig/Mückler (eds.) (2002). Politics of Indigeneity in the South Pacific. LIT Verlag, Hamburg. pp. 143–158. ISBN 3825859150. 
  • Miller, Korina; Jones, Robyn; Pinheiro, Leonardo (2003). Fiji. Lonely Planet. ISBN 1740591348.  Travel guide.


  • Derrick, Ronald Albert (1957). A History of Fiji. Suva, Fiji: Government Printer. 
  • Scarr, Deryck (1984). Fiji: A Short History. Sydney, Australia: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 0868613193. 
  • Waterhouse, Joseph (1998). The King and People of Fiji. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0824819209. 

External links

General information

Coordinates: 18°S 179°E / 18°S 179°E / -18; 179

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Oceania : Fiji
Quick Facts
Capital Suva
Government republic
Currency Fijian dollar (FJD)
Area 18,270 sq km
Population 905,949 (July 2006 est.)
Language English (official), Fijian, Hindustani
Religion Christian 58% (Methodist 36%, Roman Catholic 9%), Hindu 33.7%, Muslim 7%, Sikh 0.4%
Electricity 240V/50Hz (Australian plug)
Calling Code +679
Internet TLD .fj
Time Zone UTC +12 (no DST)

Fiji (sometimes called the Fiji Islands), [1] is a Melanesian country in the South Pacific Ocean. It lies about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand and consists of an archipelago that includes 332 islands, a handful of which make up most of the land area, and approximately 110 of which are inhabited.

Fiji straddles the 180 degree longitude line (which crosses land on a remote tip of Vanua Levu and again near the center of Taveuni), so the international date line jogs east, placing Fiji all in one time zone and, "ahead" of most of the rest of the world.


  • Viti Levu - main and largest island.
  • Vanua Levu - second largest and more northern islands.
  • Taveuni - third largest island, near Vanua Levu, with the 180th meridian, and exclusive habitat of the Tagimoucia Flower.
  • Kadavu - island south of Viti Levu.
  • Ovalau - sixth largest island, east of Viti Levu.
  • Yasawa Islands - north-western group popular for island-hopping holidays
  • Nananu-i-Ra Island - off the northern coast of Viti Levu.
  • Mamanuca Islands - tiny islands west of Viti Levu.
  • Lomaiviti Islands - central group of islands between Viti Levu and Lau Group.
  • Lau Islands - group of many small islands in eastern Fiji.
  • Rotuma - island of Polynesians to the north of the Fiji Group
  • Suva - the capital


Fiji is the product of volcanic mountains and warm tropical waters. Its majestic and ever-varied coral reefs today draw tourists from around the world, but were the nightmare of European mariners until well into the 19th century. As a result, Fijians have retained their land and often much of the noncommercial, sharing attitude of people who live in vast extended families with direct access to natural resources. When it came, European involvement and cession to Britain was marked by the conversion to Christianity, the cessation of brutal tribal warfare and cannibalism, and the immigration of a large number of indentured Indian laborers, who now represent nearly half of the population, as well as smaller numbers of Europeans and Asians. Today, Fiji is a land of tropical rainforests, coconut plantations, fine beaches, fire-cleared hills. For the casual tourist it is blessedly free of evils such as malaria, landmines, or terrorism that attend many similarly lovely places in the world.

Internal political events in the recent past resulted in a reduction in tourism. The Fiji tourism industry has responded by lowering prices and increasing promotion of the main resort areas that are far removed from the politics in and around the capital, Suva.


Tropical marine; only slight seasonal temperature variation. Tropical cyclonic storms (The South Pacific version of Hurricanes) can occur from November to April. Temperature sensitive visitors may wish to visit during the Southern Hemisphere winter.

The landscape of Yasawa, one of the smaller Fijian islands
The landscape of Yasawa, one of the smaller Fijian islands

Mostly mountains of volcanic origin

In most of the interior of the main islands there are some roads and always trails, and an amazing number of remote villages. Buses and open or canvas topped "carriers" traverse the mountains of Vanua Levu several times a day and the interior mountains of Viti Levu many times weekly (The Tacirua Transport "hydromaster" bus which leaves from Nausori in the morning and runs past the hydroelectric resevoir and mount Tomanivi to arrive the same day in Vatoukola and Tavua is the best and the scenery is truly spectacular in good weather!)


Fiji became independent in 1970, after nearly a century as a British colony. Democratic rule was interrupted by two military coups in 1987, caused by concern over a government perceived as dominated by the Indian community (descendants of contract laborers brought to the islands by the British in the 19th century). The coups and a 1990 constitution that cemented native Melanesian control of Fiji, led to heavy Indian emigration; the population loss resulted in economic difficulties, but ensured that Melanesians became the majority. A new constitution enacted in 1997 was more equitable. Free and peaceful elections in 1999 resulted in a government led by an Indo-Fijian, but a civilian-led coup in May 2000 ushered in a prolonged period of political turmoil. Parliamentary elections held in August 2001 provided Fiji with a democratically elected government led by Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase. There was a further military coup in 2006, led by Commodore Josaia Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama.

Get in

By plane

Nadi International Airport is Fiji's main international airport. Suva airport also has some international flights. Air New Zealand, and Air Pacific (Fiji majority owned) fly to Fiji directly from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in the USA, and from Incheon International Airport in South Korea, as well as many other locations. Korean Air has three flights weekly between Nadi and Seoul.

Exercise caution when making bookings with the travel agents at the airport. Fiji tourism is laden with 15-20% 'deposits' (commissions) that encourage agents to book with the resorts that provide the best commission, rather than the best holiday experience.

By boat

You can enter Fiji by boat from Australia through the Astrala shore connection.

Get around

Fiji has a variety of public transport options, including buses, "share taxis", and private taxis. Rates are very cheap: F$1-2 from Colo-i-Suva to Suva bus station by bus, F$17 from Nadi bus station to Suva by share-taxi (share-taxi's are usually white mini-vans that congregate together and set-off when they reach their capacity of 6-8), or approximately F$80 from Suva airport to Sigatoka by private taxi. On the main road circling Viti Levu buses run every half hour and taxis are a substantial proportion of traffic, while on western Taveuni buses make only a few runs per day and very little traffic is present.

The current going rate from resorts on Nadi beach to Nadi downtown is $6 per passenger, and $10 to the airport -- you should be able negotiate this price reasonably easily.

While there is rarely much traffic present, most vehicles run on diesel and pollution on major roadways can be severe. A national speed limit of 80 km/h is usually observed; village speed limits are all but entirely ignored, but drivers slow down for several speed humps distributed within each village. Seat belts are advised on taxis but are rarely evident and apparently never used.

Road travel tends to be more dangerous than many people are used to, and many embassies advise their citizens to avoid pretty much any form of road travel. Pot holes, washouts and dilapidated bridges are commonplace. Buses are the best, unless you are truly comfortable and capable of renting and driving a car on your own - most people are not even if they think they are. Avoid travel at night, especially outside of urban areas. Another option is hop-on, hop-off bus passes which allow you to tour Fiji at your own pace for a fixed price. These are a more expensive way to travel but feature inclusions like tours and activities. However, some like Feejee Experience [2] are limited to Viti Levu and trips to Beachcomber island and don't include the more remote islands.


South Sea Cruises [3] operates daily inter-island ferry transfers throughout Fiji's Mamanuca Island resorts. Awesome Adventures Fiji [4] provides daily ferry transfers out to the remote Yasawa Islands. Inter-island ferries are reasonably priced and the larger ones (especially those large enough to accommodate cars and trucks) have a good safety record, though they may be overcrowded at the beginning and end of school holiday periods.

Do not attempt to take a car to another island unless you own it or have made clear special arrangements - most rental companies forbid it and they do prosecute tourists who violate this clause in the contract.


Bicycles are becoming more popular in Fiji in recent years for locals and tourists alike. In many ways, Fiji is an ideal place for a rugged bike tour. However, the motor vehicle traffic can be intimidating on well-travelled roads, and there is a lack of accommodation along secondary roads. Cycling is a great way to see Fiji but make sure you carry all your own spares and supplies as bike shops are scarce. It is a good idea to carry plenty of water, a camelbak is great, as it is very hot and humid almost year round.

The main Road around the largest island, Viti Levu, is sealed except for a 40km section on the eastern side. A sturdy road, touring or hybrid bike is suitable.

Note for cycling enthusiasts: If you are coming in Suva, contact Dom Sansom velocityfijiATgmailDOTcom of the Velocity Cycling Club to link up other cyclists. There are some very nice cycling routes up the mountains behind Suva and Nadi. The sealed roads are smooth and do not have much traffic. The route takes you past waterfalls and you can arrange to drop in at Netani Kuila's farm, at Batiki for a local breakfast.



English is an official language and is the language of instruction in education, and is spoken by most in Nadi, Suva and any other major tourist area. On a few of the less touristy islands, English may be spoken with some difficulty. Fijian or Hindustani (Hindi/Urdu) is spoken by most adults and children, and learning even a few key phrases will help you gain the respect of the locals.

  • Bula! - A general greeting.
  • Vinaka - "Please" or "thank you."
  • Whitewater rafting, Rivers Fiji, P.O. Box 307 Pacific Harbour, Fiji Islands, 800-446-2411, [5]. Rivers Fiji operates whitewater rafting and sea kayaking trips six days a week.  edit


Inflation in Fiji is relatively high - it has increased an estimated 12%/year recently. Expect to pay prices similar to those of Australia in tourist regions.


Locals eat in the cafes and small restaurants that are found in every town. The food is wholesome, cheap, and highly variable in quality. What you order from the menu is often better than what comes out of the glass display case, except for places that sell a lot of food quickly and keep putting it out fresh. Many curries also taste better after sitting around for a few hours. Fish and Chips are usually a safe bet, and are widely available. Most of these local joints serve Chinese food of some sort along with Indian and sometimes Fiji-style fish , lamb, or pork dishes. Near the airport, a greater variety of food is found, including Japanese and Korean.

Local delicacies to try include fresh tropical fruits (they can be found at the farmer's market in any town when in season), paulsami (baked taro leaves marinated in lemon juice and coconut milk often with some meat or fish filling and a bit of onion or garlic), kokoda (fish or other seafood marinated in lemon and coconut milk), and anything cooked in a lovo or pit oven. Vutu is a local variety of nut mainly grown on the island of Beqa, but also available in Suva and other towns around January and February. A great deal of food is cooked in coconut milk, take note that everyone reacts different to increased fat levels in their diet.


A very popular drink in Fiji is yaqona ("yang-go-na"), also known as "kava " and sometimes referred to as "grog" by locals. Kava is a peppery, earthy tasting drink made from the root of the pepper plant (piper methysticum). Its effects include a numbed tongue and lips (usually lasting only about 5-10 minutes) and relaxed muscles. Kava is mildly intoxicating, especially when consumed in large quantities or on a regular basis and one should avoid taxi and other drivers who have recently partaken.

Kava drinking in Fiji became popular during the fall of cannibalism, and originated as a way to resolve conflict and facilitate peaceful negotiations between villages. It should not be consumed alongside alcohol.


Most Fiji travel agents will take a 'deposit' along with your booking, which is a commission usually between 15-20%. Since this is an up-front payment, it is often beneficial to only book one night initially, and then you may be able to negotiate a lesser rate for subsequent nights (if space is available).

Many smaller and simpler accommodations have "local rates" and can give discounts that are simply huge if you can book a room in person (or have a local do it for you) and give a legitimate local address and phone number. In the Suva area, the Raffles Tradewinds is nice and quiet and about a dollar by frequently running buses from central down town. Sometimes upon arrival at the airport in Nadi, you can stop at the Raffles Gateway across from the airport entrance and book a room at the Tradewinds at a good local rate if business is slow.

Turtle Island [6] is an island resort in the Yasawa islands that is gaining notoriety for its celebrity honeymooners (most recently Britney Spears).

Another exclusive private island resort is the Poseidon Resort [7], which is the world first and only underwater hotel, which also have exclusive beach bungalows with each one having a private beach (as well as as private golf course and an interesting cave system being available to guest). Guest will also have access to a private submarine to explore the reefs and aquatic life. Packages are two days in the underwater resort and 5 days above the water in the private bungalows. Guests are flown in via private plane.

Fijian Resort Shangri-La's [8] is located at Yanuca island in Sigatoka.

Suva has become a desirable destination for conventions, meetings and events. With so many exciting off-site activities so close to the hotel, options for a unique and rewarding event are endless.

Nadi is the hub of tourism for the Fiji Islands. You can get all the resources you need to explore your lodging options, hotels and resorts , activities and trips and tours. Nadi is a thriving community with many things to explore and experience. There is also a number of local activities and places to see when you are in Nadi as well.

Lautoka is Fiji's second largest city. The real charm of this dry western side of the island is the mountain ranges inland from Nadi and Lautoka. Koroyanitu National Park offers hiker overnight adventure through the semi-rainforest,waterfalls and small villages. Tours to the Garden of the Sleeping Giant are also very popular for the different ornamental orchids together with forest walks through botanical wonders. While in Lautoka, you can stay at the Tanoa Waterfront Hotel [9], just a twenty-five minute drive from Nadi Airport.

Tanoa Rakiraki [10] is a colonial township that captivates visitors with its old world charm and serenity. The hotel is two minutes from town.It is the half way point between Nadi and Suva, and presents a different Fiji, one that many visitors never see.

If you'd care to sample outer island life, Moanas Guest House [11] on Vanua Balavu in the remote Lau Group is worth considering. Vanua Balavu only receives one Air Fiji flight a week from Suva. There's hiking, snorkeling, caving, and fishing to keep you entertained.

  • University of the South Pacific [12], Suva
  • Fiji Institute of Technology [13]
  • The Fiji School of Medicine [14]

Stay safe

Most crime takes place in Suva and Nadi away from the resort areas. The best advice is to stick to hotel grounds after dark, and to Use extreme caution in Suva, Nadi and other urbanised areas after nightfall. Travelers have been victims of violent crime, particularly in Suva. Travelers have reported the regularity of petty robberies, muggings, and also home-invasions/rape, etc. You will notice the predominance of bars on most peoples' homes. Economic and ethnic strife has led to a low-level hum of violent crime. Some resorts and hotels have more extensive security measures than others which should be taken into account.

Muggings are often carried out by large groups of men so being in a group won't necessarily be a deterrent. Police forces sometimes have difficulties responding to crime, potentially for reasons as mundane as being unable to pay for petrol.

Fijian culture encourages sharing and sometimes small things like shoes will be "borrowed". Often by speaking with the village chief it can be arranged to get things returned.

Also, be aware that homosexual sex may be a crime in Fiji. While Fiji claims to welcome gay travelers, there has been a recent case where a visitor to the country was initially jailed for 2 years for paying a local for homosexual sex. He was later freed on appeal.

Fiji is still run by a military government, following a coup in December 2006. Although its effect has not been prominent in the resort areas of Nadi, it has led to economic decline, and a decrease in the rule of law. Journalists may be blacklisted for political reasons. Those whose employment involves reporting controversial political activities should take extra care to ensure that their visas are in order before visiting Fiji.

Stay healthy

Fiji is relatively free of disease compared to most of the tropics. Avoid mosquito-borne illnesses, such as dengue fever and even elephantiasis by covering up thoroughly or using repellents while outdoors at dawn or dusk. Local water is generally safe, though filtering or boiling is advisable when unsure. Urban tap water is treated and nearly always safe. When exceptions occasionally arise, there are public warnings or radio and print media warnings. Contaminated food is uncommon, though on occasion, mature reef fish can contain mild neurotoxins they accumulate in their bodies from freshwater algaes that wash into the ocean. The effects of such "fish-poisoning" are usually intense for only a day or two, but tingling lips and unusual sensitivities to hot and cold can linger for a long time.

Drownings are common, and automobile and other motor vehicle accidents (often involving animals or pedestrians) are very common. Local emergency medical care is very good on the basics in urban areas. Expect long waits in government-run clinics and hospitals. Treatment for serious conditions often requires an evacuation to New Zealand or Australia. Even the most basic medical care is usually not available outside of urban areas.

Fiji, like most of the South Pacific, can have intense solar radiation that can cause severe skin-burns in a short amount of time. Be sure to use hats, sunglasses and liberal amounts of high-SPF value sunblock on ALL exposed skin (including ears, noses and tops-of-feet) when out in the sun. On top of that tropical boils are a common inconvenience in Fiji, this can be avoided by giving those sweaty sections of the body a soapy scrub more than once a day.


Fiji, like many Pacific Island states, has a strong Christian moral society; having been colonised and converted to Christianity by missionaries during the 19th century. Do not be surprised if shops and other businesses are closed on Sunday. The Sabbath starts at 6PM the day before, and some businesses celebrate the Sabbath on a Saturday instead of a Sunday. Many Indians are Hindu or Muslim.

Also, dress modestly and appropriately. While Fiji is a tropical country, beach-wear should be confined to the beach. Take your cues from the locals as to what they consider appropriate dress for the occasion. When visiting towns and villages, you should be sure to cover your shoulders and wear shorts or sulus (sarongs) that cover your knees (both genders). This is especially true for visiting a church, although locals will often lend you a sulu for a church visit.

A Fijian considers his head sacred. Never touch a Fijian's head with your hand or any object for any reason.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

FIJI (Viti), a British colony consisting of an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, the most important in Polynesia, between 15° and 20° S., and on and about the meridian of 180°. The islands number about 250, of which some 80 are inhabited. The total land area is sq. m. (thus roughly equalling that of Wales), and the population is about 1 ,000. The principal island is Viti Levu, 98 m. in length (E. to W.) and 67 in .extreme breadth, with an area of 4112 sq. m. Forty miles N.E. lies Vanua Levu, measuring 117 m. by 30, with an area of 2432 sq. m. Close off the south-eastern shore of Vanua Levu is Taviuni, 26 m. in length by so in breadth; Kandavu or Kadavu, 36 m. long and very narrow, is 41 m. S. of Viti Levu, and the three other main islands, lying east of Viti Levu in the Koro Sea, are Koro, Ngau or Gau, and Ovalau. South-east from Vanua Levu a loop of islets extends nearly to 20° S., enclosing the Koro Sea. North-west of Viti Levu lies another chain, the Yasawa or western group; and, finally, the colony includes the island of Rotumah, 300 m. N.W. by N. of Vanua Levu.

The formation of the larger islands is volcanic, their surface rugged, their vegetation luxuriant, and their appearance very 1 The notation n! denotes the product 1.2. 3.... n, and is termed "t factorial n." Emery Walker sc.

is the chief stream of Vanua Levu. It breaches the mountains in a fine valley; for this island consists practically of one long range, whereas the main valleys and ranges separating them in Viti Levu radiate for the most part from a common centre. With few exceptions the islands are surrounded by barriers of coral, broken by openings opposite the mouths of streams. Viti Levu is the most important island not only from its size, but from its fertility, variety of surface, and population, which is over one-third of that of the whole group. The town of Suva lies on an excellent harbour at the south-east of the island, and has been the capital of the colony since 1882, containing the government buildings and other offices. Vanua Levu is less fertile than Viti Levu; it has good anchorages along its entire southern coast. Of the other islands, Taviuni, remarkable for a lake (presumably a crater-lake) at the top of its lofty central ridge, is fertile, but exceptionally devoid of harbours; whereas the well-timbered island of Kandavu has an excellent one. On the eastern shore of Ovalau, an island which contains in a small area a remarkable series of gorge-like valleys between commanding hills, is the town of Levuka, the capital until 1882. It stands partly upon the narrow shore, and partly climbs the rocky slope behind. The chief islands on the west of the chain enclosing the Koro Sea are Koro, Ngau, Moala and Totoya, all productive, affording good anchorage, elevated and picturesque. The eastern, islands of the chain are smaller and more numerous, Vanua Batevu (one of the Exploring Group) being a centre of trade. Among others, Mago is remarkable for a subterranean outlet of the waters of the fertile valley in its midst.

The land is of recent geological formation, the principal ranges being composed of igneous rock, and showing traces of much volcanic disturbance. There are boiling springs in Vanua beautiful; their hills rise often above 3000, and, in the case of a few summits, above 4000 ft., and they contrast strongly with the low coral formation of the smaller members of the group. There is not much level country, except in the coral islets, and certain rich tracts along the coasts of the two large islands, especially near the mouths of the rivers. The large islands have a considerable extent of undulating country, dry and open on their lee sides. Streams and rivers are abundant, the latter very large in proportion to the size of the islands, affording a waterway to the rich districts along their banks. These and the extensive mud flats and deltas at their mouths are often flooded, by which their fertility is increased, though at a heavy cost to the cultivator. The Rewa, debouching through a wide delta at the south-east of Viti Levu, is navigable for small vessels for 40 m. There are also in this island the Navua and Sigatoka (flowing S.), the Nandi (W.), and the Ba (N.W.). The Dreketi, flowing W., 3 P °. o° nd s uu R u Pt.



o r3 ° Un d 3 ° m°e Ringgold y0r{Wafa Vit? a ?u a a 18 IMO ,, ' ??; ° .;, s. S b - ' ` ' °S J4ytbeng?°? ai Leile% passage 'nKan(iatJu a -Group Thombra a ? 2 o 0' C' Q4 eWailangilala rrr ?.?? a ?o`P? sau,a s s age A bu`B ,.,„. co 3? Y a h or ? m Mt Sea: auiuni *.(1.4? p °r o .. ? tr,i s. .

? oro: r St :6,000,000 4Makongal Q n pWaAaya r,r tevuka !1 Ngau (Cocoanut l.) ThithiaA Na Lakemba a 0 .13 Moala 6lorua

OMothe p Matuku .Vatauua Levu and Ngau, and slight shocks of earthquake are occasionally felt. The tops of many of the mountains, from Kandavu in the S. W., through Nairai and Koro, to the Ringgold group in the N.E., have distinct craters, but their activity has long ceased. The various decomposing volcanic rocks - tufas, conglomerates and basalts - mingled with decayed vegetable matter, and abundantly watered, form a very fertile soil. Most of the high peaks on the larger islands are basaltic, and the rocks generally are igneous, with occasional upheaved coral found sometimes over 1000 ft. above the sea; but certain sedimentary rocks observed on Viti Levu seem to imply a nucleus of land of considerable age. Volcanic activity in the neighbourhood is further shown by the quantities of pumice-stone drifted on to the south coasts of Kandavu and Viti Levu; malachite, antimony and graphite, gold in small quantities, and specular iron-sand occur.

Table of contents


The colony is beyond the limits of the perpetual S.E. trades, while not within the range of the N.W. monsoons. From April to November the winds are steady between S.E. and E.N.E., and the climate is cool and dry, after which the weather becomes uncertain and the winds often northerly, this being the wet warm season. In February and March heavy gales are frequent, and hurricanes sometimes occur, causing scarcity by destroying the crops. The rainfall is much greater on the windward than on the lee sides of the islands (about z io in. at Suva), but the mean temperature is much the same, viz., about 80° F. In the hills the temperature sometimes falls below 50 0. The climate, especially from November to April, is somewhat enervating to the Englishman, but not unhealthy. Fevers are hardly known. Dysentery, which is common, and the most serious disease e in the islands, is said to have been unknown before the advent of Europeans.


Besides the dog and the pig, which (with the domestic fowl) must have been introduced in early times, the only land mammals are certain species of rats and bats. Insects are numerous, but the species few. Bees have been introduced. The avifauna is not remarkable. Birds of prey are few; the parrot and pigeon tribes are better represented. Fishes, of an Indo-Malay type, are numerous and varied; Mollusca, especially marine, and Crustaceae are also very numerous. These three form an important element in the food supply.


The vegetation is mostly of a tropical Indo-Malayan character - thick jungle with great trees covered with creepers and epiphytes. The lee sides of the larger islands, however, have grassy plains suitable for grazing, with scattered trees, chiefly Pandanus, and ferns. The flora has also some Australian and New Zealand affinities (resembling in this respect the New Caledonia and New Hebrides groups), shown especially in these western districts by the Pandanus, by certain acacias and others. At an elevation of about z000 ft. the vegetation assumes a more mountainous type. Among the many valuable timber trees are the vesi (Afzelia bijuga); the dilo (Calophyllum Inophyllum), the oil from its seeds being much used in the islands, as in India, in the treatment of rheumatism; the dakua (Dammara Vitiensis), allied to the New Zealand kauri, and others. The dakua or Fiji pine, however, has become scarce. Most of the fruit trees are also valuable as timber. The native cloth (masi) is beaten out from the bark of the paper mulberry cultivated for the purpose. Of the palms the cocoanut is by far the most important. The yasi or sandal-wood was formerly a valuable product, but is now rarely found. There are various useful drugs, spices and perfumes; and many plants 'are cultivated for their beauty, to which the natives are keenly alive. Among the plants used as pot-herbs are several ferns, and two or three Solanums, one of which, S. anthropophagorum, was one of certain plants always cooked with human flesh, which was said to be otherwise difficult of digestion. The use of the kava root, here called yanggona, from which the well-known national beverage is made, is said to have been introduced from Tonga. Of fruit trees, besides the cocoanut, there may be mentioned the many varieties of the bread-fruit, of bananas and plantains, of sugar-cane and of lemon; the wi (Spondias dulcis), the kavika (Eugenia malaccensis), the ivi or Tahitian chestnut (Inocarpus edulis), the pine-apple and others introduced in modern times. Edible roots are especially abundant. The chief staple of life is the yam, the names of several months in the calendar having reference to its cultivation and ripening. The natives use no grain or pulse, but make a kind of bread (mandrai) from this, the taro, and other roots, as well as from the banana (which is the best), the bread-fruit, the ivi, the kavika, the arrowroot, and in times of scarcity the mangrove. This bread is made by burying the materials for months, till the mass is thoroughly fermented and homogeneous, when it is dug up and cooked by baking or steaming. This simple process, applicable to such a variety of substances, is a valuable security against famine.


The Fijians are a people of Melanesian (Papuan) stock much crossed with Polynesians (Tongans and Samoans). They occupy the extreme east limits of Papuan territory and are usually classified as Melanesians; but they are physically superior to the pure examples of that race, combining their dark colour, harsh hirsute skin, crisp hair, which is bleached with lime and worn in an elaborately trained mop, and muscular limbs, with the handsome features and well proportioned bodies of the Polynesians. They are tall and well built. The features are strongly marked, but not unpleasant, the eyes deep set, the beard thick and bushy. The chiefs are fairer, much better-looking, and of a less negroid type of face than the people. This negroid type is especially marked on the west coasts, and still more in the interior of Viti Levu. The Fijians have other characteristics of both Pacific races, e.g. the quick intellect of the fairer, and the savagery and suspicion of the dark. They wear a minimum of covering, but, unlike the Melanesians, are strictly decent, while they are more moral than the Polynesians. They are cleanly and particular about their personal appearance, though, unlike other Melanesians, they care little for ornament, and only the women are tattooed. A partial circumcision is practised, which is exceptional with the Melanesians, nor have these usually an elaborate political and social system like that of Fiji. The status of the women is also somewhat better, those of the upper class having considerable freedom and influence. If less readily amenable to civilizing influences than their neighbours to the eastward, the Fijians show greater force of character and ingenuity. Possessing the arts of both races they practise them with greater skill than either. They understand the principle of division of labour and production, and thus of commerce. They are skilful cultivators and good boat-builders, the carpenters, being an hereditary caste; there are also tribes of fishermen and sailors; their mats, baskets, nets, cordage and other fabrics are substantial and tasteful; their pottery, made, like many of the above articles, by women, is far superior to any other in the South Seas; but many native manufactures have been supplanted by European goods.

The Fijians were formerly notorious for cannibalism, which may have had its origin in religion, but long before the first contact with Europeans had degenerated into gluttony. The Fijian's chief table luxury was human flesh, euphemistically called by him "long pig," and to satisfy his appetite he would sacrifice even friends and relatives. The Fijians combined with this greediness a savage and merciless natures. Human sacrifices were of daily occurrence. On a chief's death wives and slaves were buried alive with him. When building a chief's house a slave was buried alive in the hole dug for each foundation post. At the launching of a war-canoe living men were tied hand and foot between two plantain stems making a human ladder over which the vessel was pushed down into the water. The people acquiesced in these brutal customs, and willingly met their deaths. Affection and a firm belief in a future state, in which the exact condition of the dying is continued, are the Fijians' own explanations of the custom, once universal, of killing sick or aged relatives. Yet in spite of this savagery the Fijians have always been remarkable for their hospitality, open-handedness and courtesy. They are a sensitive, proud, if vindictive, and boastful people, with good conversational and reasoning powers, much sense of humour, tact and perception of character. Their code of social etiquette is minute and elaborate, and the graduations of rank well marked. These are (r) chiefs, greater and lesser; (2) priests; (3) Mata ni Vanua (lit., eyes of the land), employes, messengers or counsellors; (4) distinguished warriors of low birth; (5) common people; (6) slaves.

The family is the unit of political society. The families are grouped in townships or otherwise (qali) under the lesser chiefs, who again owe allegiance to the supreme chief of the matanitu or tribe. The chiefs are a real aristocracy, excelling the people in physique, skill, intellect and acquirements of all sorts; and the reverence felt for them, now gradually diminishing, was very great, and had something of a religious character. All that a man had belonged to his chief. On the other hand, the chief's property practically belonged to his people, and they were as ready to give as to take. In a time of famine, a chief would declare the contents of the plantations to be common property. A system of feudal service-tenures (lala) is the institution on which their social and political fabric mainly depended. It allowed the chief to call for the labour of any district, and to employ it in planting, house or canoe-building,supplying food on the occasion of another chief's visit, &c. This power was often used with much discernment; thus an unpopular chief would redeem his character by calling for some customary service and rewarding it liberally, or a district would be called on to supply labour or produce as a punishment. The privilege might, of course, be abused by needy or unscrupulous chiefs, though they generally deferred somewhat to public opinion; it has now, with similar customary exactions of cloth, mats, salt, pottery, &c. been reduced within definite limits. An allied custom, solevu, enabled a district in want of any particular article to call on its neighbours to supply it, giving labour or something else in exchange. Although, then, the chief is lord of the soil, the inferior chiefs and individual families have equally distinct rights in it, subject to payment of certain dues; and the idea of permanent alienation of land by purchase was never perhaps clearly realized. Another curious custom was that of vasu (lit. nephew). The son of a chief by a woman of rank had almost unlimited rights over the property of his mother's family, or of her people. In time of war the chief claimed absolute control over life and property. Warfare was carried on with many courteous formalities, and considerable skill was shown in the fortifications. There were well-defined degrees of dependence among the different tribes or districts: the first of these, bati, is an alliance between two nearly equal tribes, but implying a sort of inferiority on one side, acknowledged by military service; the second, qali, implies greater subjection, and payment of tribute. Thus A, being bati to B, might hold C in qali, in which case C was also reckoned subject to B, or might be protected by B for political purposes.

The former religion of the Fijians was a sort of ancestorworship, had much in common with the creeds of Polynesia, and included a belief in a future existence. There were two classes of gods - the first immortal, of whom Ndengei is the greatest, said to exist eternally in the form of a serpent, but troubling himself little with human or other affairs, and the others had usually only a local recognition. The second rank (who, though far above mortals, are subject to their passions, and even to death) comprised the spirits of chiefs, heroes and other ancestors. The gods entered and spoke through their priests, who thus pronounced on the issue of every enterprise, but they were not represented by idols; certain groves and trees were held sacred, and stones which suggest phallic associations. The priesthood usually was hereditary, and their influence great, and they had generally a good understanding with the chief. The institution of Taboo existed in full force. The mbure or temple was also the council chamber and place of assemblage for various purposes.

The weapons of the Fijians are spears, slings, throwing clubs and bows and arrows. Their houses, of which the framework is timber and the rest lattice and thatch, are ingeniously constructed, with great taste in ornamentation, and are well furnished with mats, mosquito-curtains, baskets, fans, nets and cooking and other utensils. Their canoes, sometimes more than 1 00 ft. long, are well built. Ever excellent agriculturists, their implements were formerly digging sticks and hoes of turtlebone or flat oyster-shells. In irrigation they showed skill, draining their fields with built watercourses and bamboo pipes. Tobacco, maize, sweet potatoes, yams, kava, taro, beans and pumpkins, are the principal crops.

Fijians are fond of amusements. They have various games, and dancing, story-telling and songs are especially popular. Their poetry has well-defined metres, and a sort of rhyme. Their music is rude, and is said to be always in the major key. They are clever cooks, and for their feasts preparations are sometimes made months in advance, and enormous waste results from them. Mourning is expressed by fasting, by shaving the head and face, or by cutting off the little finger. This last is sometimes done at the death of a rich man in the hope that his family will reward the compliment; sometimes it is done vicariously, as when one chief cuts off the little finger of his dependent in regret or in atonement for the death of another.

A steady, if not a very rapid, decrease in the native population set in after 1875. A terrible epidemic of measles in that year swept away 40,000, or about one-third of the Fijians. Subsequent epidemics have not been attended by anything like this mortality, but there has, however, been a steady decrease, principally among young children, owing to whooping-cough, tuberculosis and croup. Every Fijian child seems to contract yaws at some time in its life, a mistaken notion existing on the part of the parents that it strengthens the child's physique. Elephantiasis, influenza, rheumatism, and a skin disease, thoko, also occur. One per cent of the natives are lepers. A commission appointed in 1891 to inquire into the causes of the native decrease collected much interesting anthropological information regarding native customs, and provincial inspectors and medical officers were specially appointed to compel the natives to carry out the sanitary reforms recommended by the commission. A considerable sum was also spent in laying on good water to the native villages. The Fijians show no disposition to intermarry with the Indian coolies. The European half-castes are not prolific inter se, and they are subject to a scrofulous taint. The most robust cross in the islands is the offspring of the African negro and the Fijian. Miscegenation with the Micronesians, the only race in the Pacific which is rapidly increasing, is regarded as the most hopeful manner of preserving the native Fijian population. There is a large Indian immigrant population.

Trade, Administration, &c. - The principal industries are the cultivation of sugar and fruits and the manufacture of sugar and copra, and these three are the chief articles of export trade, which is carried on almost entirely with Australia and New Zealand. The fruits chiefly exported are bananas and pineapples. There are also exported maize, vanilla and a variety of fruits in small quantities; pearl and other shells and bechede-mer. There is a manufacture of soap from coconut oil; a fair quantity of tobacco is grown, and among other industries may be included boat-building and saw-milling. Regular steamship communications are maintained with Sydney, Auckland and Vancouver. Good bridle-tracks exist in all the larger islands, and there are some macadamized roads, principally in Viti Levu. There is an overland mail service by native runners. The export trade is valued at nearly £600,000 annually, and the imports at £500,000. The annual revenue of the colony is about £140,000 and the expenditure about £125,000. The currency and weights and measures are British. Besides the customs and stamp duties, some £18,000 of the annual revenue is raised from native taxation. The seventeen provinces of the colony (at the head of which is either a European or a roko tui or native official) are assessed annually by the legislative council for a fixed tax in kind. The tax on each province is distributed among districts under officials called bulis, and further among villages within these districts. Any surplus of produce over the assessment is sold to contractors, and the money received is returned to the natives.

Under a reconstruction made in 1904 there is an executive council consisting of the governor and four official members. The legislative council consists of the governor, ten official, six elected and two native members. The native chiefs and provincial representatives meet annually under the presidency of the governor, and their recommendations are submitted for sanction to the legislative council. Suva and Levuka have each a municipal government, and there are native district and village councils. There is an armed native constabulary; and a volunteer and cadet corps in Suva and Levuka.

The majority of the natives are Wesleyan Methodists. The Roman Catholic missionaries have about 3000 adherents; the Church of England is confined to the Europeans and kanakas in the towns; the Indian coolies are divided between Mahommedans and Hindus. There are public schools for Europeans and half-castes in the towns, but there is no provision for the education of the children of settlers in the out-districts. By an ordinance of 1890 provision was made for the constitution of school boards, and the principle was first applied in Suva and Levuka. The missions have established schools in every native village, and most natives are able to read and write their own language. The government has established a native technical school for the teaching of useful handicrafts. The natives show themselves very slow in adopting European habits in food, clothing and house-building.


A few islands in the north-east of the group were first seen by Abel Tasman in 1643. The southernmost of the group, Turtle Island, was discovered by Cook in 1773. Lieutenant Bligh, approaching them in the launch of the "Bounty," 1789, had a hostile encounter with natives. In 1827 Dumont d'Urville in the "Astrolabe" surveyed them much more accurately, but the first thorough survey was that of the United States exploring expedition in 1840. Up to this time, owing to the evil reputation of the islanders, European intercourse was very limited. The labours of the Wesleyan missionaries, however, must always have a prominent place in any history of Fiji. They came from Tonga in 1835 and naturally settled first in the eastern islands, where the Tongan element, already familiar to them, preponderated. They perhaps identified themselves too closely with their Tongan friends, whose dissolute, lawless, tyrannical conduct led to much mischief; but it should not be forgotten that their position was difficult, and it was mainly through their efforts that many terrible heathen practices were stamped out.

About 1804 some escaped convicts from Australia and runaway sailors established themselves around the east part of Viti Levu, and by lending their services to the neighbouring chiefs probably led to their preponderance over the rest of the group. Na Ulivau, chief of the small island of Mbau, established before his death in 1829 a sort of supremacy, which was extended by his brother Tanoa, and by Tanoa's son Thakombau, a ruler of considerable capacity. In his time, however, difficulties thickened. The Tongans, who had long frequented Fiji (especially for canoe-building, their own islands being deficient in timber), now came in larger numbers, led by an able and ambitious chief, Maafu, who, by adroitly taking part in Fijian quarrels, made himself chief in the Windward group, threatening Thakombau's supremacy. He was harassed, too, by an arbitrary demand for £9000 from the American government, for alleged injuries to their consul. Several chiefs who disputed his authority were crushed by the aid of King George of Tonga, who (1855) had opportunely arrived on a visit; but he afterwards, taking some offence, demanded £12,000 for his services. At last Thakombau, disappointed in the hope that his acceptance of Christianity (1854) would improve his position, offered the sovereignty to Great Britain (1859) with the fee simple of 100,000 acres, on condition of her paying the American claims. Colonel Smythe, R.A., was sent out to report on the question, and decided against annexation, but advised that the British consul should be invested with full magisterial powers over his countrymen, a step which would have averted much subsequent difficulty.

Meanwhile Dr B. Seemann's favourable report on the capabilities of the islands, followed by a time of depression in Australia and New Zealand, led to a rapid increase of settlers - from 200 in 1860 to 1800 in 1869. This produced fresh complications, and an increasing desire among the respectable settlers for a competent civil and criminal jurisdiction. Attempts were made at self-government, and the sovereignty was again offered, conditionally, to England, and to the United States. Finally, in 1871, a "constitutional government" was formed by certain Englishmen under King Thakombau; but this, after incurring heavy debt, and promoting the welfare of neither whites nor natives, came after three years to a deadlock, and the British government felt obliged, in the interest of all parties, to accept the unconditional cession now offered (1874). It had besides long been thought desirable to possess a station on the route between Australia and Panama; it was also felt that the Polynesian labour traffic, the abuses in which had caused much indignation, could only be effectually regulated from a point contiguous to the recruiting field, and the locality where that labour was extensively employed. To this end the governor of Fiji was also created "high commissioner for the western Pacific." Rotumah (q.v.) was annexed in 1881.

At the time of the British annexation the islands were suffering from commercial depression, following a fall in the price of cotton after the American Civil War. Coffee, tea, cinchona and sugar were tried in turn, with limited success. The coffee was attacked by the leaf disease; the tea could not compete with that grown by the cheap labour of the East; the sugar machinery was too antiquated to withstand the fall in prices consequent on the European sugar bounties. In 1878 the first coolies were imported from India and the cultivation of sugar began to pass into the hands of large companies working with modern machinery. With the introduction of coolies the Fijians began to fall behind in the development of their country. Many of the coolies chose to remain in the colony after the termination of their indentures, and began to displace the European country traders. With a regular and plentiful supply of Indian coolies, the recruiting of kanaka labourers practically ceased. The settlement of .European land claims, and the measures taken for the protection of native institutions, caused lively dissatisfaction among the colonists, who laid the blame of the commercial depression at the door of the government; but with returning prosperity this feeling began to disappear. In 1900 the government of New Zealand made overtures to absorb Fiji. The Aborigines Society protested to the colonial office, and the imperial government refused to sanction the proposal.

See Smyth, Ten Months in the Fiji Islands (London, 1864); B. Seemann, Flora Vitiensis (London, 1865); and Viti: Account of a Government Mission in the Vitian or Fijian Islands (1866-1861); W. T. Pritchard, Polynesian Reminiscences (London, 1866); H. Forbes, Two Years in Fiji (London, 1875); Commodore Goodenough, Journal (London, 1876); H. N. Moseley, Notes of a Naturalist in the "Challenger" (London, 1879); Sir A. H. Gordon, Story of a Little War (Edinburgh, privately printed, 1879); J. W. Anderson, Fiji and New Caledonia (London, 1880); C. F. Gordon-Cumming, At Home in Fiji (Edinburgh, 1881); John Horne, A Year in Fiji (London, 1881); H. S. Cooper, Our New Colony, Fiji (London, 1882); S. E. Scholes, Fiji and the Friendly Islands (London, 1882): Princes Albert Victor and George of Wales, Cruise of H. M. S. "Bacchante" (London, 1886); A. Agassiz, The Islands and Coral Reefs of Fiji (Cambridge, Mass., U.S., 1899); H. B. Guppy, Observations of a Naturalist in the Pacific (1896-1899), vol. i.; Vanua Levu, Fiji (Phys. Geog. and Geology) (London, 1903); Lorimer Fison, Tales from Old Fiji (folk-lore, &c.) (London, 1904); B. Thomson, The Fijians (London, 1908).

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Alternative spellings

  • Viti


  • (UK) enPR: fēʹjē, fējēʹ, IPA: /ˈfiː.dʒiː/, /fiːˈdʒiː/, SAMPA: /fi:"dZi:/, /fi:.dZi:"/
  • (US) enPR: fēʹjē, IPA: /ˈfi.dʒi/, SAMPA: /fi"dZi/
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Proper noun




  1. A country in Oceania comprising over 300 islands. Official name: Republic of the Fiji Islands.

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  1. Fiji


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  1. Fiji


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  1. Fiji


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  1. Fiji

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  1. Fiji


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  1. Fiji


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  1. Fiji


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  1. Fiji


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