Fiji

Fiji officially the Republic of Fiji, is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about 1,100 nautical miles northeast of New Zealand's North Island.

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Fiji i/ˈfiːdʒiː/ (Fijian: Viti; Fiji Hindi: फ़िजी), officially the Republic of Fiji[7] (Fijian: Matanitu ko Viti; Fiji Hindi: फ़िजी गणराज्य[8] Fijī Gaṇarājya), is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about 1,100 nautical miles (2,000 km; 1,300 mi) northeast of New Zealand's North Island. Its closest neighbours are Vanuatu to the west, France's New Caledonia to the southwest, New Zealand's Kermadec to the southeast, Tonga to the east, the Samoas, France's Wallis and Futuna to the northeast and Tuvalu to the north.

The majority of Fiji's islands were formed through volcanic activity started around 150 million years ago. Today, some geothermal activity still occurs on the islands of Vanua Levu and Taveuni.[9] Fiji has been inhabited since the second millennium BC. The country comprises an archipelago of more than 332 islands, of which 110 are permanently inhabited, and more than 500 islets, amounting to a total land area of circa 18,300 square kilometres (7,100 sq mi). The two major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, account for 87% of the population of almost 850,000. The former contains Suva, the capital and largest city. Most of Fijians live on Viti Levu's coasts, either in Suva or in smaller urban centres. Viti Levu's interior is sparsely inhabited due to its terrain.[10]

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Dutch and the British explored Fiji.[11] Fiji was a British colony until 1970; British administration lasted almost a century.[12] During World War II, the United Kingdom allowed for many thousands of Fijians to volunteer to aid in Allies' efforts via their attachment to the New Zealand and Australian army units; the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) consist of land and naval units.

Because of the abundance of forest, mineral, and fish resources, Fiji is one of the most developed economies in the Pacific island realm. Today, the main sources of foreign exchange are its tourist industry and sugar exports.[13] The country's currency is the Fijian dollar.

Fiji has a local government system where city and town councils fall under the general supervision of the Ministry of Local Government and Urban Development.[14] President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau became Fiji's president, after a high court ruled that the military leadership was unlawfully appointed after a 2006 coup.[15]

Etymology

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 neighbours 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.[16]

History

Pottery art 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 even Hawai'i.

The first settlements in Fiji were started by voyaging traders and settlers from the west about 5000 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. 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.



Ratu Tanoa Visawaqa

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 were quite rampant and very much part of everyday life.[17] 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.[18] 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.[19]



Fijian mountain warrior, 1870s

The Dutch explorer Abel Tasman visited Fiji in 1643 while looking for the Great Southern Continent.[20] Europeans settled on the islands permanently beginning in the 19th century.[21] 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 the United Kingdom. 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, an epidemic of measles killed over 40,000 Fijians,[22] about one-third of the Fijian population.[23] 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.[24]

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 Fijian 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 Indo-Fijian emigration; the population loss resulted in economic difficulties but ensured that Melanesians became the majority.[25]

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 was re-admitted to the Commonwealth of Nations.



Levuka, 1842.

The new millennium brought along another coup, instigated by George Speight, that effectively toppled the government of Mahendra Chaudhry, who became the country's first Indo-Fijian prime minister following the 1997 constitution. Commodore Frank Bainimarama assumed executive power after the resignation, possibly forced, of president Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara. Fiji was rocked by two mutinies at Suva's Queen Elizabeth Barracks, later in 2000 when rebel soldiers went on a rampage. The High Court ordered the reinstatement of the constitution, and in September 2001, a general election was held to restore democracy, which was then 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 nation's top military commander, Frank Bainimarama. Bainimarama agreed with detractors who said that it was a sham to grant amnesty to supporters of the present government who played roles in the violent 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 December 4 to accede to these demands or to resign from his post. Qarase adamantly refused to either concede or resign and on December 5, the president, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, was said to have signed a legal order dissolving the parliament after meeting with Bainimarama.



Bounty Island, Mamanuca archipelago.

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 fairly 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 U.S.-led invasion.[citation needed]

Politics

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 5 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 takeover. 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.[26]

On 4 January 2007, the military announced that it was restoring executive power to president Iloilo,[27] who made a broadcast endorsing the actions of the military.[28] The next day, Iloilo named Bainimarama as the interim prime minister,[29] 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".[30] 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 2 May 2009, Fiji became the first nation ever to have been suspended from participation in the Pacific Islands Forum, for its failure to hold democratic elections by that date.[31][32] Nevertheless, it remains a member of the Forum.

On 1 September 2009, Fiji was 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 that heavily favours ethnic Fijians at the expense of the multi-ethnic minorities. Critics claim that he has suspended the constitution and was responsible for human rights violations by arresting and detaining opponents.[33][34]

In his New Year's address, Commodore Frank Bainimarama announced the lifting of the Public Emergency Regulations (PER). The PER had been put in place since April 2009, when the former constitution was abrogated. The former had allowed restrictions on some public gatherings and speech, censorship of news media reports and gave security forces added powers. He had also announced the nationwide consultation process leading to the new Constitution under which the 2014 elections will be held.

Armed Forces

  • Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) - Fiji Army with a total manpower of 3,500 active soldiers and 6,000 reservists, includes a 300-man strong Navy Unit.

Land Force form Fiji Infantry Regiment (regular and territorial force organized into six light infantry battalions), Fiji Engineer Regiment, Logistic Support Unit and Force Training Group. The two regular battalions are traditionally stationed overseas on peacekeeping duties.

  • Fiji Police Force[35]
  • Fiji Corrections service[36]

Demographics

Ethnic groups



Native Fijian women, 1935

The population of Fiji is mostly made up of native Fijians, who are Melanesians (54.3%), although many also have Polynesian ancestry, and Indo-Fijians (38.1%), descendants of Indian contract labourers brought to the islands by the British colonial powers in the 19th century. The percentage of the population of Fijian Indian descent has declined significantly over the last two decades due to migration for various reasons.[37] The Fiji coup of 2000 provoked a violent backlash against the Indo-Fijians for a time.[38][39] There is also a small but significant group of descendants of indentured laborers from the 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 7,300.

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.[40]

Demonym

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.[41]

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.[42] 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.[43]

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.[44]

In May 2010, Attorney-General Aiyaz Saiyed Khaiyum reiterated that the term "Fijian" should apply to all Fiji nationals, but the statement was again met with protest. A spokesperson for the Viti Landowners and Resource Owners Association claimed that even fourth-generation descendants of migrants did not fully understand "what it takes to be a Fijian", and added that the term refers to a legal standing, since legislation affords specific rights to "Fijians" (meaning, in legislation, indigenous Fijians).[45] Fiji academic Brij Lal, a prominent critic of the Bainimarama government,[46][47] said he "would not be surprised" if the new definition of the word "Fijian" were included in the government's projected new Constitution, and that he personally saw "no reason the term Fijian should not apply to everyone from Fiji".[48]

Religion



Sri Siva Subramaniya Hindu temple, Nadi

Indigenous Fijians are mostly Christian (40% at the 1996 census), and the Indo-Fijians are mostly Hindu and Muslim. 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. (General Secretary: Revd Tuikilakila Waqairatu) With 36.2% of the total population (including almost two-thirds of ethnic Fijians), the proportion of the population adhering to Methodism is higher in Fiji than in any other nation. In 2012, permission was granted by the Government for Methodists to hold their annual Conference, for the first time in 4 years, with condition it does not coincide with the national Hibiscus Festival, and that it should only last for three days, no political matters were to be discussed only church matters[49] 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%). 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, but are a much recent wave of immigrants who did not live through the indenture system[citation needed]. The Bahá'í Faith has over 21 Local Spiritual Assemblies throughout Fiji and Baha'is live in more than 80 localities.[50] The first Baha'i in the islands was a New Zealander who arrived in 1924.[50] There is also a small Jewish population. Every year the Israeli Embassy organises a Passover celebration with approximately 100 people attending.[citation needed]

Administrative and provincial divisions



Map of the divisions of Fiji.

Fiji is divided into Four Major Divisions:

  • Central
  • Eastern
  • Northern
  • Western

These divisions are further divided into 14 provinces:

  • Ba
  • Bua
  • Cakaudrove
  • Kadavu
  • Lau
  • Lomaiviti Province
  • Macuata
  • Nadroga-Navosa
  • Naitasiri
  • Namosi
  • Ra
  • Rewa
  • Serua
  • Tailevu

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:

  • The Burebasaga Confederacy
  • The Kubuna Confederacy
  • The Tovata Confederacy

Geography



Fiji's location in Oceania



Map of Fiji.



Coconut trees line the beaches of Fiji

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 (UTC+12) 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 220 nautical miles (410 km; 250 mi) north of the group, 360 nautical miles (670 km; 410 mi) 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, which account for approximately three-quarters of the total land area of the country. The islands are mountainous, with peaks up to 1,324 metres (4,341 ft), and covered with thick tropical forests. The highest point is Mount Tomanivi on Viti Levu. 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 Lautoka, Fiji's second city with large sugar cane mills 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 off Nadi) and Yasawa Group, which are popular tourist destinations, the Lomaiviti Group, off Suva, and the remote Lau Group. Rotuma, some 270 nautical miles (500 km; 310 mi) north of the archipelago, has a special administrative status in Fiji, which nearest neighbour is Tonga in the east.

Climate

The climate in Fiji is tropical marine and warm most of the year round with minimal extremes. The warm season is from November till April and the cooler season May to October. Temperature in the cool season still averages 22 °C (72 °F).

Rainfall is variable, the warmer season experiences heavier rainfall, especially inland. Winds are moderate, though cyclones occur about once a year (10–12 times per decade).[51]

Economy

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 and 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.



Graphical depiction of Fiji's product exports in 28 color coded categories.

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[52] 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 and investment with Fiji has been criticized due to the country's military dictatorship.[53] 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.[54]

The South Pacific Stock Exchange (SPSE) is the only licensed securities exchange in Fiji and is based in Suva. Its vision is to become a regional exchange.

Culture



Huts in the village of Navala 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]

Fiji's culture was displayed at the Shanghai World Expo 2010, along with other Pacific countries in the Pacific Pavilion.[55]

Holidays and festivals

This is a list of holidays celebrated in Fiji:

  • New Year's Day
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Saturday
  • Easter Monday
  • Fiji Day
  • Diwali
  • Christmas Day
  • Boxing Day
  • Prophet Mohammed's Birthday

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

The following holidays are no longer celebrated in Fiji:

  • Queen's Birthday [56]
  • National Youth Day
  • Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna Day[57]

Tourism

Fiji has a significant amount of tourism and many people go to the Nadi and Denarau islands.[58] The biggest sources of international visitors by country are Australia, New Zealand and the USA.[59] Fiji has a significant amount of soft coral reefs, and scuba diving is a common tourist activity.[58] More budget resorts are being opened in remote areas, which provides more tourism opportunities.[58]

Transport

Air

The Nadi International Airport is located 9 km north of central Nadi and is the largest Fijian hub.[60] Nausori International Airport is about 23 kilometres northeast of downtown Suva and serves mostly domestic traffic. The main airport in the second largest island of Vanua Levu is Labasa Airport[61] located at Waiqele, southwest of Labasa Town. The largest aircraft handled by Labasa Airport is the ATR42. Airports Fiji Limited (AFL) is responsible for the operation of 15 public airports in the Fiji Islands. These include two international airports; Nadi international Airport – Fiji’s main international gateway and Nausori Airport – Fiji’s domestic hub and 13 outer island airports.

Bus

Fiji's larger islands have extensive bus routes that are affordable and consistent in service.[58] There are bus stops, and in rural areas buses are often simply hailed as they approach.[58] Buses are the principal form of public transport[62] and passenger movement between the towns on the main islands. Buses also serve on roll-on-roll-off inter-island ferries. Bus fares and routes are heavily regulated by the Land Transport Authority (LTA). Bus and taxi drivers hold Public Service Licenses (PSVs) issued by the LTA.

Taxi

Taxis are licensed by the LTA and operate widely all over the country. Apart from urban, town-based taxis, there are others that are licensed to serve rural or semi-rural areas. The flagfall for regular taxis is F$1.50 and tarrif is F$0.10 for every 200 meters.[63]. For taxis that are allowed to charge Value Added Tax (VAT), the flagfall is F$1.50 and tariff is F$0.30 for the first 200 meters, and F$0.11 for every 200 meters thereafter. Taxis operating out of Fiji's international airport, Nadi charge a flagfall of F$5. The elderly and Government welfare recipients are given a 20% discount on their taxi fares.[64]

Ships and Inter-island ferries

Inter-island ferries provide services between Fiji's principal islands and large vessels operate roll-on-roll-off services, transporting vehicles and large amounts of cargo between the main island of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, and other smaller islands.

Language

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 Fiji Hindi, and there is a 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 all dialects spoken in the Nadroga/Navosa and those of the western island groups and provinces.

English Hello/hi Good morning Goodbye
Fijian bula yadra (Pronounced Yandra) moce (Pronounced Mothe)
Fiji Hindi नमस्ते सुप्रभात चलता हूँ

[65]

Sport

Rugby union



The Fiji national rugby union team during the 2007 Rugby World Cup playing against Canada.

Rugby union is the most popular sport in Fiji. The national rugby union team is very successful given the size of the population of the country, and has competed at five Rugby World Cup competitions, 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 where they nearly beat the eventual Rugby World Cup winners, South Africa. Fiji also defeated the British and Irish Lions in 1977. Fiji 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

Rugby league is a popular team sport played in Fiji. 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 Rugby League World Cup. The team also competes in the Pacific Cup.

Association football

Association football was a minor sport but over the last decade with further international funding from FIFA and sound local management of the sport has grown in popularity amongst the Indian community initially but now also the Fijian community. It is the second popular sports in Fiji after rugby union 15's and rugby union 7's.

The Fiji Football Association is a member of the Football Confederation. The national football team defeated New Zealand 2–0 in the 2008 OFC Nations Cup,[66] on their way to a joint-record third placed finish. However, they have never reached a FIFA World Cup. Fiji won the South Pacific Games football tournament in 1991 and 2003.

Footnotes

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More information

Airports28 (2012)
Coastline1,129 km
Coordinates18 00 S, 175 00 E
Domain Suffix.fj
Ethnic GroupFijian 57.3% (predominantly Melanesian with a Polynesian admixture)
Ethnic GroupIndian 37.6%
Ethnic GroupRotuman 1.2%
Ethnic Groupother 3.9% (European, other Pacific Islanders, Chinese) (2007 census)
Female Life Expectancy74.32 years (2012 est.)
Female Median Age27.4 years (2012 est.)
Fertility Rate2.58 children born/woman (2012 est.)
GDP$4.153 billion (2011 est.)
GDP$4.069 billion (2010 est.)
GDP$4.076 billion (2009 est.)
GDP Growth2.1% (2011 est.)
GDP Growth-0.2% (2010 est.)
GDP Growth-1.3% (2009 est.)
Government typerepublic
Highest PointTomanivi 1,324 m
Land Area18,274 sq km
LanguageEnglish (official)
LanguageFijian (official)
LocationOceania, island group in the South Pacific Ocean, about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand
Lowest PointPacific Ocean 0 m
Male Life Expectancy69 years
Male Median Age27 years
NationalityFijian(s)
Population Growth0.766% (2012 est.)
Railways597 km
Roadways3,440 km
Terrainmostly mountains of volcanic origin
Total Area18,274 sq km
Total Life Expectancy71.59 years
Total Median Age27.2 years
Water Area0 sq km
Waterways203 km (122 km are navigable by motorized craft and 200-metric-ton barges) (2012)

References

  • Wright, Ronald (1986). On Fiji Islands. Original from the University of Michigan, Digitized 5 December 2006. ISBN 0-670-80634-X. 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 0-8248-1418-5. 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 3-8258-5915-0.
  • Miller, Korina; Jones, Robyn; Pinheiro, Leonardo (2003). Fiji. Lonely Planet. ISBN 1-74059-134-8. Travel guide.

Bibliography

  • Derrick, Ronald Albert (1957). A History of Fiji. Suva, Fiji: Government Printer.
  • David Routledge: Matanitu - The Struggle for Power in Early Fiji, University of the South Pacific, Suva 1985
  • Scarr, Deryck (1984). Fiji: A Short History. Sydney, Australia: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 0-86861-319-3.
  • Waterhouse, Joseph (1998). The King and People of Fiji. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0-8248-1920-9.





Neighboring countries


Important people