Travel Guides: Fiji
Fiji is a republic island in the Pacific Ocean. Fiji, officially the Republic of Fiji Islands is an island country located in the South Pacific Ocean east of Vanuatu, west of Tonga and south of Tuvalu.
The first inhabitants of Fiji arrived from Southeast Asia long before being discovered by Europeans in the seventeenth century. In the nineteenth century Europeans came to the islands for permanent staying. The islands were administered by the British as a colony in 1874. Independence was given in 1970, though the queen continues to be officially the sovereign of the country. In 1987 a coup proclaimed the Republic, which is maintained until today. It was written a new constitution, for equality of the two ethnic groups in the country, Indian and indigenous Fijian.
Ten years later, in 2000, the local nationalist George Speight organized a coup which was destroyed with another counter-coup carried out by Frank Bainimarama who restored the democratic normality by imposing Laisenia Qarase as Prime Minister. On 4 December 2006, Commander Frank Bainimarama made a coup against Qarase. Bainimarama did not support him any more because of the little exigency on Speight’s pucists. Troops surrounded Qarase’s residence, isolating him from rest of the capital. The soldiers attacked police stations and seized weapons from the only armed police unit, and soldiers also disarmed Qarase’s personal. Bainirama turned into the country’s president, making Jona Senilagakali Prime Minister.
The situation calmed down on January 5, 2007 when Bainimarama gave presidency to Josefa Iloilo. A day later Iloilo named the commander, Prime Minister of the country. The 1990 Constitution was drafted to the Fijian natives of the country to monopolize political power, but was amended in 1997 allowing those who are of other ethnic groups to be better represented. The President is head of state chosen by the Great Council of Chiefs, with very limited powers except crisis situations. The prime minister must be elected by a majority of parliament. The Parliament is bicameral; there is a Senate with 34 members (24 are for native Melanesians of Fiji, 9 for the populations of other races and one for the Polynesian island of Rotuma).
Fiji is divided into four administrative divisions: Central Division; Eastern Division; Western Division; North Division. In addition the northern island of Rotuma archipelago has a special status. Fiji consists of 322 islands, of which one third are inhabited. In addition, there are 522 small islands. The two major islands are Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. In Viti Levu is the capital of Suva, Lautoka and Nadi (Fiji headquarters of the main international airport). On the island of Vanua Levu, Labasa and Savusavu are the main cities. Both islands are mountainous, with peaks over 1,200 m, and are covered by tropical forest. Viti Levu has two thirds of the population, and added to the island of Vanua Levu have more than 80% of the population.
Other important islands are: Taveuni, Kadavu (the third largest island) and Rotuma, 500 miles north of the archipelago. Fiji has forest resources, minerals and fisheries that make the economy to be one of the most developed of the Pacific Ocean, large sections of the population, however, deals with the domestic economy. The main source of foreign currency of the country is exporting sugar occupying 30% of the industrial activity – in recent years has had several problems. It has a weak inversion in the sector and unclear laws on land ownership. The tourist industry is important with 300-400 thousand tourists a year.
The coup in 1987 and 2000 have seriously affected the economy, and growth over a long period of the Republic of Fiji economy depends largely on stable administration and reduce social tensions. Indigenous population emigrates temporarily in Kuwait and Iraq through remittances significantly increases income per capita. The present population reaches 905,949 inhabitants (census of July 2006) with a density of 49 inhabitants / km². Polynesian Fijians are a mixture of local and Malaysian, the result of ancient migrations that took place in the South Pacific centuries ago. Indian population grew faster between 1879 and 1916 to work on sugar cane plantations. Then it continued to increase due to voluntary migration and reached majority.
But after the coup of 1879 it started to decline. There is a small European and Chinese minority. The official language is English, but the language that is spoken by native Fijian, but the native language spoken by people is Fijian, language from the malaio-polynesian family and people of Indian origin is Hindi-Fijian, a local variety of Indostan. Fiji’s indigenous majority are Christians, Methodists or Catholics. The Indian origin of religion is 77% Hindu, 15% Muslim and 6% Christians. There are a few sijs (Sikhism religion). The religion with the most followers is the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma. It has the highest concentration of Methodists in Fiji, in comparison with other countries (36.2% of the population belongs to the church).
The Catholic Church has 8.9%. Hindu belong to the Sanatan sect (74.3% of Hindus), and 22% did not specify which sect they belong to. Most Muslims are Sunnis. Other religions are Sikhism and Baha’i Fe. Due to ethnic and religious diversity, cultural traditions of the country are a mosaic of indigenous, Indian and European. Indigenous culture is of Polynesian and Malaysian characteristics, but also suffered changes due to conversion to Christianity. The country’s favorite sport is rugby and the national team participated in several world championships. There is a football team ranked 150 of the FIFA world classification. Best participate in an international tournament was third place at the 1998 Oceania Cup.
Fiji, this tiny island republic, is a lost paradise in the Pacific Ocean and unforgettable to those who have the chance to spend even a few days here. The island offers more than just beaches where you can relax and you can swim in the ocean, being an elite tourist destination. Of the 300 islands only 130 are inhabited, and you will surely find one that is a match of your needs and budget. Each island has a distinct atmosphere and may get there by air or water; the two modes of transport have their own charm. Once you arrive you can choose between a relaxing day on the beach, swimming, scuba diving, a boat, water skiing or surfing.
You will have the opportunity to discover these islands and whatever beauties the island where you are, you could see with the naked eye, on the nearby islands. The restaurants are situated mostly on the beach. Imagine lunch with a dream view in front: white sand and clear sea. Most chefs use fresh ingredients: tomatoes, pineapple, fish, papaya and mango. Do not miss “lovo dinner” offered once a week in most hotels, when the food is wrapped in banana leaves and cooked over low heat in an earth oven. Considering that the islands are located in the northern hemisphere, summer lasts from November to March, and winter begins in April and ends in October. Life in Fiji has its own relaxed pace and there are unwritten philosophy behind all things and people are kind and friendly.
Be careful though, tropical paradise entices many tourists to move beyond a mere romantic vacation and choose Fiji as the place where they tie their destinies together. Hotels offer a wide range of supply for both couples looking for romance and families coming on vacation. You have what to see in Fiji. The capital, Suva, has many markets and shops where you can find souvenirs and traditional handicraft products, exotic fruits, great food – especially fish and seafood. You can visit the National Museum among others, situated in the wonderful atmosphere of Thurston Gardens next to the old seat of government and head of Parliament. In Fiji you will find Orchid Island Cultural Centre – a poetic name both so right past the enigmatic testimony of Taveuni and the old colonial houses.
Once in Fiji you will be welcomed by friendly locals and the first words you will hear will be “bubble” which can be translated as “welcome” but also as “feel good”. Whatever the proper translation in Fiji will feel really good because people in Fiji are very hospitable and attentive to tourists. Here you will find the famous Island Resorts, resorts on private islands, which can be reached easily by air from airports in Nadi and Suva. Fiji’s ethnic diversity is visible especially in cities, where tourists will find the locals near Western, Indian, Chinese, etc. One of the local attractions, practiced by both Indians and people of Fiji, is the famous walk on hot coal, a true spectacle for the West, though still preserves its religious character, initiative.
You will certainly see such scenes, but it is not advisable to try to join such traditions in Fiji. You can visit the various islands by yacht or boat. Those with a more sporty temperament can start hiking through the mountains and islands for a beautiful view seen from above that can not be described. Fiji is a fascinating string of islands, and would be a shame that on this holiday you will not try to discover each other. Of the approximately one million people, most are Christian, Indians are Hindu, but there is a Muslim minority.
Fiji’s economy is surprisingly well developed for an exotic country, based both on natural resources – timber, minerals, agriculture and fishing – as well as on tourism and trade. Mainly Fiji exports sugar, locally produced sugar cane, but pays particular attention to tourism. More than 250,000 tourists arrive in Fiji from all around the world every year. Nadi: is located 15 minutes south of Nadi International Airport, where most likely you will land, and is the ideal place to start exploring the exotic world represented by Fiji. The town is very small and does not offer anything particularly for those who want thrills, with some shops, but it has its charm.
Suva: Fiji’s capital is a quiet town, an ideal place to make plans for the rest of the holidays. It has many shops and markets where you will find everything you want, from food to handicrafts, and where you make the first steps in the knowledge of local tradition. Do not forget to visit the National Museum, Thurston Gardens and pass the old building of the Parliament. Yasawa Islands: This group of islands is often the image of the tropical paradise, and it is considered the most beautiful in Fiji. Taking account of the charm associated with the name Fiji is not hard to imagine what kind of vacation you spend here. You can find one at a time, renting a yacht or special races. In the south you will find an island with an unusual geometric shape.
Once landed in the village you have to go and looking for the boss, asking permission to stay there. It is not a rule but a local tradition to the highest price in Fiji, and its observance will immediately draw the sympathy of the island. You can dive, beach, or you can, using locals to fish in a traditional way: with the spear. Although most likely you will not catch anything, it is an experience. One of the attractions on the island is a sports area, more or less improvised, where children play sports in nearby villages and even on other islands. They come up here for sports, games and competitions taking place around the rule, rankings and rivalries. You can go on a trip to the island, and it is best to be accompanied by a local guide who will help you not miss anything that is interesting.
It is an impressive island, so get ready for a pretty long road. You can climb the mountain and after it awaits a particular favorite beach of the locals. You will find a restaurant and a small village, and more tents if you want to rest. Fiji is true with traditional food and cheap. You will find similar conditions on other islands, each very charming, nature untouched by human hand, with traditional food and a rich range of local habits. There will be times where you will relax and simply watching the locals how they see their daily life. In the ocean you will see dolphins playing, more than you can imagine.
Taveuni: Not much to say about this tiny island, just the fact that the locals call it the “Garden Isle.” And it is so, a space for exotic nature, even if it does not provide tourist facilities which you might expect. Viti Levu: Fiji’s main island is where the majority is found, the capital, two international airports, shops, restaurants, small hotels. In a nutshell here is the vital center. The south, known as the Coral Coast is a popular region visited by tourists. You will find cheap hotels and resorts in Nadi or Lautoka. Do not forget to enjoy the nightlife of the capital. Coral Coast resorts are many, as the best tourist area: the weather is always excellent, beautiful landscape and ocean sunset picture may not be reproduced in words.
There are also many villages, where traditional cultural events are organized for those interested. Here takes place the Roxy Pro surfing contest, very appreciated by enthusiasts. Lautoka: it is one of the few industrial cities, here running a sugar cane processing industry. Film lovers will find an impressive movie theatre, and an excellent beach. Why choose Fiji as a destination for a romantic vacation? Here are the most important reasons: it is secluded and intimate; tropical ambience and abundant vegetation; it provides your own beach; Fijian choirs and warrior escorts for which you can not miss; unique cultural ceremonies and traditional costumes for worship; variety of options regarding accommodation and restaurants as well as those leisure; each island is famous for something: Rooster – hammer-head fish, Chuuk – Wreck, Bahamas – Dolphin.
With over 1000 species of fish, coral, starfish and shrimp, one word can describe the diversity of Fiji: color. Made up of over 300 volcanic islands, the Fiji archipelago is at the crossroads of the South Pacific. Today seafarers were known as cannibals Islands and avoided because of its warriors and dangerous waters. More recently, tropical climate, palm-lined beaches and coral reefs, and the location on the Pacific air routes have made Fiji a top destination for tourists. Fiji’s population lives mainly on the two main islands – Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, and is divided almost equally between indigenous Fijian and Indo-Fijian, descendants of workers brought from India.
Mixing the two groups is minimal. Fijian people are famous for their hospitality and friendship showed to every visitor. They have a free thinking, and rarely have negative views. The villages still live by ancient traditions, especially those remote from urban centers. You need to know about Fiji that as a country is affected by ethnic and political conflicts between Fijian and Indians, which led to a series of three coups, starting in 1987. Although the situation remains somewhat unstable, visitors are not affected by these events and Fiji is considered a safe destination. In fact in the midst of a record development in tourism, offer visitors various attractions.
The National Museum in the capital Suva offers the opportunity to go back in time. The museum is located in Thurston gardens lush vegetation near the old government buildings and parliament buildings. Discover Sri Siva Subramaniyam Temple, the largest Hindu temple in the southern hemisphere. Sacred Grottoes Naihere Explore Sigatoka Valley; Discover the sugar cane plantations, cocoa, ginger, coconut and walnuts; Admire the walls of Saint Francis Xavier Church, located on a hillside overlooking King’s Road. Visit the cultural center of the island of Orchids, a river valley that has been transformed into a miniature Fiji. Capture dramatic panoramas of the island, after climbing the mountains and on Viti Levu Batilamu.
Go on a cruise to various islands; Raft on rivers with bamboo rafts; depth and surface diving through coral reefs – Laguna Beqaa, Rainbow Reef and the famous White Great Wall. Sailing, windsurfing, water skiing, kayaking, canoeing, paragliding; marked hiking routes in Fiji – Lavena Vidawa coast or the woods; look at bats, parrots, doves, or swim in waterfalls in forests, parks and nature reserves; take part in a “meke”, Fijian dancing involving national costumes full of flowers and grass skirts. Men perform war dances, and women sing. In general, the Fijian natives and Indians eat using only the hand. The tables are organized on the floor, and the family sits on mats. Most commonly consumed foods are rice, taro (plant leaves), bread fruit tree, shrub tapioca, fish, sweet potatoes and coconuts.
“Lovo” is a feast taking place in villages with special occasions like weddings, festivals or inauguration of a new chief. Lovo is prepared digging a big hole, where are put in coconut shells and lighted on fire. Above them they place rocks. When the flames go down, the food is wrapped in banana leaves and lowered into the borehole. Meat and fish are always put first, followed by vegetables. Everything is covered with banana leaves and stones, leaving them to cooking about two and a half hours. When ready, everyone is invited to the feast.
The first inhabitants of Fiji have been from Malaysia, who arrived here 3,500 years ago. In the late 1700s, when European explorers arrived in Fiji, they were greeted with hot ovens – the natives were wont to eat the invaders, which usually lasted until 1874, when Fiji became a British colony. As was their habit, the British brought workers from India to work on sugarcane plantations. Today, descendants of those workers make up 44% of the population and over 50% indigenous. Although the new constitution has done all legal residents of Fiji, the mixture between the two communities is minimal and segregation is visible in almost all aspects of society.
Although ethnic tensions have faded after winning independence in 1970, Fiji has enjoyed relative peace, until 1987 when won the election a coalition dominated by ethnic Indians. The coup led by Sitiveni Rabuka led the military leader to overthrow the government. There was a new constitution, from which the ethnic Fijian benefited. Pressure from the international community led in 1997 to change the constitution and the election of another Indian-controlled government in 1999. In May 2000 a group of radical ethnic Fiji launched a military takeover of the parliament. After two months while they stood aside, government forces have opposed the revolt of 1997 had revoked the constitution and appointed an interim government.
However, in 2001 there were democratic elections and was written a new constitution. Fiji locals are very hospitable. Before visiting the villages the custom says to buy a “yaqona” (a type of pepper) representing a traditional gift (“sevusevu”). Visitors should not enter the village immediately, but must wait to be invited. They will be taken to the chief or Turaga Ni Koro, which will give the peppercorns. Visitors agree to receive a guide and a chief host. Inside the village there are some guidelines: clothing should be modest, no shorts and hats, and women must have shoulders covered. Always remove your shoes before entering someone’s house or other building in the village. Do not raise your voice too hard, as this can be interpreted as a sign of anger.
Be reserved when you show your admiration for things, because local people will feel obligated to give you the object. As a habit, locals will invite you to spend the night in the village or to eat with them. If you stay overnight, reward your host with a small but symbolic gift. Local time is GMT +12. The image provided by sunset, which seems slowly to be hidden behind the islands to the ocean octopi then, is unique in the world. In villages in the area of traditional cultural events are organized for those interested.