FIJI

Oceania Countries

Basic Information

Capital Suva

Language: English, Fijian and Hindi.

Other languages spoke:Fiji Hindi, Cantonese, Rotuman, Gilbertese (Rabi Island), and Tuvaluan (Kioa Island).

Important cities

1. Nadi

2. Suva

3. Sigatoka

4. Viti Levu Island

5. Savusavu

6. Denarau Island

7. Taveuni

8. Lautoka

9. Korolevu

10. Rakiraki

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Landforms

The island nation of Fiji sits in the South Pacific in between Hawaii and New Zealand. Fiji is comprised of more than 332 islands, of which 110 are inhabited, and an additional 500 islets.The two largest islands are Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, and between the two of them make up 87% of Fiji's total landmass. Vita Levu is home to the countries capital, the coastal city of Suva. The island's interior has dramatic landscapes of tropical forests, waterfalls and mountainous terrain. The island has rolling plains used for sugar cane farming as well as mountainous terrain, volcanic hot springs and a scenic harbor in the tourist town of Savusavu. These mountainous islands were formed around 150 million years ago through volcanic activity, and are subsequently covered in thick tropical forests. Most of Fiji's mountains are dormant or extinct volcanoes. Mount Tomanivi, located on the main island of Viti Levu, is the highest point at 4,341 feet (1,324 m), and the lowest point is the Pacific Ocean. Fiji is made up almost completely of mountainous terrain and volcanic origin. The climate is tropical with only slight seasonal temperature variation.

Culture Aspects

Native Groups

iTaukei, legally known until 2010 as Fijians, are the major indigenous people of the Fiji Islands, and live in an area informally called Melanesia. Indigenous Fijians are believed to have arrived in Fiji from western Melanesia approximately 3,500 years ago, though the exact origins of the Fijian people are unknown. Later they would move onward to other surrounding islands, including Rotuma, as well as blending with other (Polynesian) settlers on Tonga and Samoa. They are indigenous to all parts of Fiji except the island of Rotuma. The original settlers are now called "Lapita people" after a distinctive pottery produced locally. Lapita pottery was found in the area from 800 BC onward.

As of 2005, indigenous Fijians constituted slightly more than half of the total Fijian population. Indigenous Fijians are predominantly of Melanesia extraction, with some Polynesian admixture. Other ethnic groups in Fiji include Indians, the Rotuman people, and minority communities, which include Caucasians, Chinese, and other Pacific Islanders.

New Zealand has a large Fijian expatriate population, according to the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs. In 2001, Fijians were the fifth largest Pacific ethnic group living in New Zealand. There was a decrease of 8 percent between 1996 and 2001. The estimated Pacific Islander population size is 231,800 in 2001 Fijians comprising about 7,000 of that.

The Tabua is a much revered whale's tooth which is used in both public and private occasions or ceremonies. The tooth is considered sacred.

Yaqona (pronounced yung-gohna), otherwise known as Kava- another important traditional custom - is an infusion prepared from the root of Piper methysticum, a type of pepper plant. The plant itself is also often referred to as yaqona or the kava plant. Yaqona is extremely important in indigenous Fijian culture - in the time of the 'old religion' it was used ceremonially by chiefs and priests only. Today, yaqona is part of daily life, both in villages and in urban areas and across all classes and walks of life. 'Having a grog' or 'drinking grog', as drinking kava is sometimes known, is used for welcoming and bonding with visitors, for storytelling sessions or merely for passing time.

The native Fijian language belongs to the Central Pacific - Fijian - Polynesian branch of the Austronesian family.

About 86 percent of the land in Fiji is owned by indigenous Fijian people. In 1876, Sir Arthur Hamilton--Gordon, the British Colonial Governor, prohibited the sale of Fijian land to non-ethnic Fijians. This controversial policy continues to this day. The Governor also banned the employment of native Fijians as laborers, and in 1878, began importing indentured laborers from India to work in the sugarcane fields. The effects of this immigration created an ethnic polarization, which has proven to be politically challenging to Fijian race relations.

Indigenous Fijians overwhelmingly report as being Christian, with the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma claiming the loyalty of 66.6% (1996 census). Other significant denominations include the Roman Catholic Church (13.3%), the Assemblies of God (6.2%) and the Seventh-day Adventists (5.1%). About 8% belong to other churches from a large number of denominations. Only about 0.8% report as following non-Christian religions or no religion.

Approximately 70% of indigenous Fijians are farmers, many of which are sustenance farmers. They commonly grow such crops as sugar cane, cassava, rice, sweet potatoes, and bananas.

Things to do

1. Visit the Kula Eco Park (Sigatoka)

2. Take a swim in Natadola Beach (Sigatoka)

3. Go to Sabeto Hot Springs and Mud Pool (Nadi)

4. Make extreme activities as Zip Fiji (Pacific Harbour)

5. Visit the Lavena Coastal Walk (Taveuni Island)

6. Go to the Port Denarau Marina (Denarau Island)

7. Have a walk on the Garden of the Sleeping Giant (Nadi)

8.Go to Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park (Sigatoka)

9. Have a waddle at Fiji Museum (Suva)

10. Take a shower at Tavoro Waterfalls (Taveuni Island)

Food

The basics of Fijian food consists of rice, sweet potatoes, taro, cassava, coconut and fish; and using mostly open fire or underground cooking methods, the ingredients are made into one of the following national dishes. The heavy influence of the Indo-Fijian culture also means the cuisine has elements of colorful curries and spices with it.

Here are some of the most popular traditional Fijian dishes. There is one thing a guest must remember if ever invited to a Fijian home for a meal: the guest must start on the dishes first. It is the local custom to wait patiently until the house guest makes their first move towards the food, otherwise everyone will simply wait around with grumbling stomachs. No one will remind you as it is deemed impolite.

Indo-Fijian Cuisine

It is not uncommon to find restaurants serving up Madrasi masala dosa to Punjabi tandoori chicken. Most of the Indian dishes have evolved along with the availability of fresh Fijian produce, served slightly milder and uses local ingredients such as taro and tavioka.

Holidays and Festivals


Outrigger International Competition

Fiji is a sporting nation, and for its size, does particularly well on the global scale. The Outrigger International Competition is the main event in Nadi each year which draws hundreds of competitors and thousands of spectators. Other sporting events like the Fiji marathon are also held during this time.


Fiji International Jazz and Blues Festival

Port Denarau is host to the Fiji International Jazz and Blues Festival. It spans three days in May and welcomes many local and international jazz and blues musicians to perform. Australian, American, European, and New Zealand musicians make up most of the performers. The festival is a great time visit Port Denarau as the sights and sounds of the event are unmatched during the rest of the year.


Honoring the Founder of Modern Fiji Festival

The last Monday in May is a commemoration to the Father of Modern Fiji, Ratu Sir Lala Sakuna. The festivities last for an entire week, with many different towns and cities celebrating in their own way. The event concludes with a presidential speech relating to Fijian unity, and the statue of Ratu Sir Lala Sakuna is polished by locals.


World Music Festival

Fiji is the heart of the Pacific music culture. Each year in June, the World Music Festival packs the city of Suva. Bands from across the world and some local come to the city to showcase their exciting musical talents. Reggae is popular during this time, as is traditional Fiji music. It only started in 2006, but has grown considerably since then.


Bula Festival

Held across several days in mid-July, the Bula Fiji Festival is a fantastic celebration of the island nation’s heritage. Singing and dancing take center stage in the city of Nadi, and a parade is usually the spotlight of the event. At the end of the celebrations, a young woman is crowned Miss Bula for the year.

Hibiscus Festival

The event is held in several areas around Fiji in the month of August and has recently spread to other Pacific Islands nations. The Miss Hibiscus title is a coveted part of the event, drawing thousands of entrants from across the Fiji islands. In addition, local arts, crafts, sports, music, food, dance, and songs are exhibited throughout the festival.


Diwali Festival

Due to Fiji’s large Indian population, the Diwali Festival is one of the main events held on the islands. Celebrated in the month of October, Diwali (which is also known as the Festival of Lights) is characterized by fantastic light shows, traditional firecracker displays, and plenty of night-time fun. It isn’t just the Indian population that gets into the swing of things, as all cultures love any excuse to party.