Fiji, formally the Republic of Fiji, is a Melanesia island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean, about 1,100 nautical miles (2,000 kilometers; 1,300 miles) northeast of New Zealand’s North Island. It is bounded on the west by Vanuatu, on the southwest by New Caledonia, on the southeast by New Zealand’s Kermadec Islands, on the east by Tonga, on the northeast by the Samoas and France’s Wallis and Futuna, and on the north by Tuvalu.
Fiji is an archipelago comprised of over 330 islands, 110 of which are regularly inhabited, and over 500 islets, covering an area of about 18,300 square kilometers (7,100 sq mi). Ono-i-Lau is the most remote island. Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, the two largest islands, account for 87 percent of the population of over 860,000. Suva on Viti Levu, the capital, serves as Fiji’s primary cruise port. Around three-quarters of Fijians reside on Viti Levu’s beaches, in Suva or in smaller metropolitan areas like as Nadi (tourism) or Lautoka (sugar cane industry). Viti Levu’s interior is sparsely populated as a result of its rugged topography.
Due to a wealth of forest, mineral, and seafood resources, Fiji boasts one of the most developed economies in the Pacific. Today, the country’s primary sources of foreign currency are tourism and sugar exports. The Fijian dollar is the country’s currency. The Ministry of Local Government and Urban Development supervises Fiji’s local government, which takes the form of city and town councils.
The bulk of Fiji’s islands were created about 150 million years ago by volcanic activity. Today, some geothermal activity continues on the Vanua Levu and Taveuni islands. Since the second millennium BC, Fiji has been populated by Austronesians and Melanesians, with occasional Polynesian influences. Europeans began visiting Fiji in the 17th century, and the British created the Colony of Fiji in 1874, after a short time as an independent monarchy. Fiji was a British Crown colony until 1970, when it became a Commonwealth country. In 1987, after a succession of coups, a republic was proclaimed.
Commodore Frank Bainimarama took control in a coup in 2006. When the Supreme Court decided in 2009 that the military’s authority was unconstitutional, President RatuJosefa Iloilo, whom the military had maintained as titular Head of State, officially repealed the Constitution and reappointed Bainimarama. Later that year, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau succeeded Iloilo as President. On 17 September 2014, after years of delay, a democratic election was conducted. Bainimarama’s FijiFirst party won with 59.2 percent of the vote, and foreign observers considered the election legitimate.
Fiji has a significant tourism component. The popular regions are Nadi, the Coral Coast, Denarau Island and the Mamanuca Islands. As for international visitors, their major sources of visitors are from Australia, New Zealand and the US. Fiji has a considerable number of soft coral reefs so diving has become a very popular tourist activity.
Fiji’s main attractions for tourists are mainly white sand beaches and aesthetically pleasing islands with year-round tropical weather. In general, Fiji is a medium sized holiday destination with most accommodation in this area. Fiji is also home to many world-class luxury five-star resorts and hotels. More budget resorts are opening in remote areas, offering more tourism opportunities.
Official statistics show that in 2012, 75% of visitors said they had come for a holiday. Honeymoons have been very popular, as well as romantic getaways in general. There are also family-friendly resorts with facilities for young children, including kids’ clubs and nannies.
Fiji has several popular tourist destinations. For example, the Thursten Botanical Gardens that are located in Suva, the Sigatoka Sand Dunes as well as the Colo-I-Suva Forest Park represent 3 popular options on the mainland. Diving is a main tourist attraction on the outer islands.
Fiji has a total area of about 194,000 square kilometres, of which about 10% is land area.
Fiji is the centre of the Southwest Pacific, halfway between Vanuatu and Tonga. The archipelago lies between 176° 53 ′ east and 178° 12 ′ west. The 180° meridian crosses Taveuni, but the international dateline is curved to give the entire Fiji group a uniform time (UTC + 12). With the exception of Rotuma, the Fiji group lies between 15 ° 42 ′ and 20 ° 02 ′ to the south. Rotuma is 220 nautical miles (410 km; 250 miles) north of the group, 360 nautical miles (670 km; 410 miles) from Suva, 12 ° 30 ′ south of the equator.
There are 332 islands ( from which 106 are populated) as well as 522 small islets in Fiji. Fiji’s 2 main islands are Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, which represent approximately 3/4 of the country’s entire land area. The islands are mountainous, with peaks as high as 1,324 metres, and covered with dense tropical forests.
Highest point is Mount Tomanivi located on Viti Levu. Viti Levu is home to the capital Suva, where almost three quarters of the population live. Other major towns are Nadi and Lautoka.
The most important towns located on Vanua Levu are Labasa and Savusavu. Among the other islands as well as island groups are Taveuni and Kadavu , the Mamanuca and the Yasawa, which are popular tourist destinations, the Lomaiviti group off the coast of Nadi . Suva and the distant Lau group.
The 2007 census showed that the permanent population of Fiji was 837,000. The population density at that time was 45.8 inhabitants per square kilometre. Life expectancy in Fiji was 72.1 years. Since the 1930s, the population of Fiji has increased by 1.1% per year. The population is dominated by the age between 15 and 64 years. The average age of the population was 27.9 years and the sex ratio was 1.03 males per 1 female.
Fiji’s population is mainly made up of indigenous Fijians (54.3%), as well as Indo-Fijians (38.1%). The proportion of the population of Indo-Fijian descent has declined significantly in the last two decades due to migration for various reasons. Indo-Fijians suffered reprisals for a time after the Fiji coup of 2000. There is also a small but significant group of descendants of Indo-Fijian workers from the Solomon Islands.
About 1.2% are Rotumans – natives of the island of Rotuma, whose culture has more in common with countries like Tongaor Samoa than with the rest of Fiji. In addition, there are also smaller but economically important groups of Europeans, Chinese as well as other Pacific Island minority groups. The total number of members of other Pacific Islander ethnic groups is about 7,300.
Political relations among ethnic Fijians and Indo-Fijians have frequently been tense, and tensions among these two communities seem to have dominated the politics of the islands. The level of political tension varies between the different regions of the country.
Based on the 2007 census, 64.4% of the population in the country was Christian, while 27.9% were Hindu, 6.3% are Muslim, while 0.8% are non-religious, 0.4% are Sikh and 0.3% are from other religions.
The dominant Christian denomination is the Fiji and Rotuma Methodist Church With 34.6% of the population (including almost two-thirds of ethnic Fijians) following Methodism, Fiji has a higher percentage of the population than any other nation.
The Catholics are led by the Archdiocese of Suva, whose province also includes the dioceses of Raratonga (in the Cook Islands for these and Niue, both countries associated with New Zealand) and Tarawa and Nauru and the Sui Iuris Mission of Tokelau. This reflects that many important Roman Catholic missionary activities were carried out in the former Apostolic Prefecture (established in 1863 by the Apostolic Vicariate of Central Oceania), then in the Apostolic Vicariate of Fiji, which has since been promoted to the entire Archdiocese of Suva Fiji.
In addition, the Assemblies of God, Seventh-day Adventists and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (HLT Church) are significant. Fiji is also home to the Anglican Diocese of Polynesia.These and other denominations have a small number of Indo-Fijian members; Christians of all kinds make up 6.1% of the Indo-Fijian population.
Hindus belong mainly to the Sanatan sect (74.3% of all Hindus) or are unspecified (22%). The small Arya Samaj sect claims to be about 3.7% of Hindus in Fiji. Muslims are predominantly Sunni (96.4%), following the Hanafi school of law, with a small Ahmadiyya minority (3.6%). Sikhs make up 0.9% of the Indo-Fijian population as well as 0.4% of the Fijian nation. Their ancestors came from the Punjab region of India; They are a relatively recent wave of immigrants who did not live through the Indenture system. The Bahá’í Faith has over 21 local spiritual assemblies throughout Fiji, and Bahá’ís live in more than 80 places. The first Bahá’ís to the islands were New Zealanders who arrived in 1924. Additionally, there is also a small Jewish population of approximately 60 people. Every year the Israeli Embassy organises a Passover celebration with about 50-60 participants.
Things To Know Before Traveling To Fiji
Visa and passport
Citizens of most countries do not need a visa. Most visitors receive a residence permit for 4 months on arrival. All others need a visa. The residence permit can be extended for another two months for a fee.
Fiji has three official languages: English, Fijian and Hindi.
Fijian is the first language of the indigenous Melanesian population, while a local variant of Hindi is spoken mainly by people of Indian origin. English is the lingua franca and medium of instruction in Fijian schools and is widely spoken in the larger cities and tourist areas. People living on some remote islands are not fluent in English, so it is useful to learn a few phrases in Fijian when travelling to these areas.
Fijian culture is a rich mosaic of indigenous Fijian, Indo-Fijian, Asian and European traditions, including social politics, language, food (mainly from the sea, but also casava, dalo (taro) and other vegetables), costumes, belief systems, architecture, arts, crafts, music, dance and sports.
While Fiji’s indigenous culture and traditions are very much alive and form an integral part of the daily lives of the majority of the Fijian population, Fijian society has evolved over the last century with the introduction of traditions such as those of India and China, as well as important influences from Europe and neighbouring Pacific countries, particularly Tonga and Samoa. Thus, Fiji’s diverse cultures have come together to form a unique multicultural national identity.
Fijian culture was showcased at the 1986 World Expo in Vancouver, Canada, and more recently at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, along with other Pacific countries in the Pacific Pavilion.
Fiji, like many Pacific island countries, has a strongly Christian moral society, having been colonised by missionaries in the nineteenth century and converted to Protestantism. Don’t be surprised if shops and other businesses are closed on Sundays. The Sabbath begins at 6pm the day before, and some businesses celebrate it on Saturday instead of Sunday. Many Indians are Hindus or Muslims.
Also, dress modestly and appropriately. Although Fiji is a tropical country, dress should be limited to beach wear. Ask locals what they consider appropriate attire for the occasion. When visiting towns and villages, you should cover your shoulders and wear shorts or a sarong that covers your knees (for both sexes). This is especially true for church visits, although locals will often lend you a sultan for a church visit.
There are no nudists/naturists or topless swimming in Fiji.