TOP-50 interesting facts about Fiji and Fijians
The Republic of Fiji is an island country in the Southern Hemisphere and Western Pacific Ocean that shares many similarities with its neighbours. But, at the same time, it is a unique country with its own customs, history and culture. In our article, we have collected 50 fascinating facts about this country and its people, which will help to form a first impression and interestingly plan your holiday in Fiji.
50 most interesting facts about Fijians and Fiji
So, let’s begin our journey through the history, traditions and sights of this amazing country.
1. The first people in the islands of Fiji appeared about 3,300 years ago. They came from the islands lying to the west. They were Polynesians who created the Lapita culture.
2. The second wave of settlement occurred a little later. This time the archipelago was visited by visitors from the south and east – Melanesians from Vanuatu and New Caledonia. This resulted in the formation of a distinctive Fijian identity, intermediate between Polynesians and Melanesians.
3. The first European to visit the archipelago was Dutchman Abel Tasman in 1643. He did not land in Fiji, but gave it the name Prince William Island.
4. The name Fiji was given to the islands by the English navigator James Cook, who visited them in 1774. The word was a distorted pronunciation of the word Viti, as the natives themselves called the islands.
5. The first clash between Fijians and Europeans occurred in 1840 when the natives killed and possibly ate two crew members of an American schooner. In retaliation, the Americans destroyed 2 villages and killed over 70 people.
6. Christianity spread to the archipelago in the 19th century, but the Fijians themselves continue to believe in their own gods and spirits.
7. Beginning in 1875, Fiji became part of the British Commonwealth. By that time, there were several thousand Europeans living on the islands and developing cotton and cane plantations.
8. Indians began to be massively imported to the islands to work on the plantations. By 1916 their number in the archipelago exceeded 60 thousand. By 1940 the number of Indians and aboriginal Fijians coincided.
9. In 1970, Fiji gained full independence from Britain but remained a member of the British Commonwealth. The pound sterling as a means of payment was replaced by the Fijian dollar.
10. The country went through several decades of troubled times. Over the years there have been several military coups, laws and constitutions have been created and abolished. It was not until 2012 that martial law was lifted in the country.
11. Today, Fiji is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, a parliamentary republic with a presidential form of government. It has a population of almost one million people and the capital is Suva on the island of Viti Levu.
12. The archipelago comprises 333 islands, of which the largest are Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. About one third of the islands are uninhabited.
13. Indians continue to make up a significant proportion of the population of the islands. They retain their culture and traditions and rarely form mixed families.
14. The official languages of the Republic are English and Fijian. But almost half of the inhabitants of the archipelago speak Hindi.
15. Traditional branches of economy of islands remain fishing, manufacture of sugar, textiles, and also extraction of gold. Imports of these goods give the main share of GDP. Gold is mined on the island of Viti Levu at the only deposit of Vatukoula.
16. In recent years, the islands have paid great attention to tourism: developing infrastructure and attracting investment. At present tourism gives a quarter of the total GDP of the country, about 700 thousand people arrive here annually.
17. There are two international airports in the country, about 3 thousand kilometres of roads and a railway connection, which is used exclusively for industrial transport.
18. The capital of Fiji is the city of Suva. It is the largest city in the country with about 170 thousand people including the surrounding agglomeration.
19. The literacy rate in the archipelago is over 90%, primary schools are government funded and free for children. There are three universities on the islands.
20. The country pays great attention to health care, which accounts for almost 10 per cent of GDP. There are 25 public hospitals and about 100 primary nursing centres in rural areas.
21. The main architectural sights are located in the capital of the country – Suva. Firstly, it is a Catholic cathedral, which was built by missionaries in 1902. The cathedral is decorated with a statue of Jesus Christ with outstretched arms.
22. Another attraction of the capital is the Fiji Museum. In its rich collection there are exhibits telling about the culture and way of life of the aborigines, periods of colonisation and independence.
23. Suva is famous as a green city. It has about 80 parks, the most beautiful of which is Albert Park, opened in 1874. Here you can not only admire the well-maintained trees and mowed lawns. In the centre of the park is Prince Albert’s palace and there are two rugby pitches.
24. One of the most striking sights of the archipelago is the Hindu temple Sri Shiva Subramanya, located in the town of Nandi. The shrine is about 30 metres high, making it the tallest Hindu temple in the Southern Hemisphere.
25. In the town of Levuka is the Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart, built in 1858. Its main decoration is a stone tower with a clock and bells, 24 metres high.
Character and customs of the Fijians
26. Fijians have a good-natured and cheerful character, welcoming visitors and treating tourists with respect.
27. In the past, the islands were often shaken by intertribal conflicts, in which the Fijians showed themselves skilful warriors. It is also believed that cannibalism was the norm among them.
28. Modern Fijians cherish the traditions of their ancestors, but there are no cannibals among them. Although tourists are gladly shown scary objects like forks for brain extraction.
29. Fijians do not like to express their feelings in public, they rarely say «no» and try never to raise their voice.
30. In the families of islanders reigns patriarchy. The man is considered the head of the family and the provider. Women do the housework and cooking. Older people are respected and protected.
31. Aborigines pay much attention to upbringing of children. Firstly, children are taught the principles of humility and tolerance towards representatives of other peoples.
32. In traditional Fijian houses, there are no locks on the doors, and the doors themselves are often absent. It is believed that the home should always be open to relatives and guests.
33. When visiting an Aboriginal home, it is customary to bring a small gift. It can be a bottle of wine or cigarettes, although a polished sperm whale tooth is especially revered by the islanders. It is a terrible insult to refuse a return gift.
34. In rural areas, it is not recommended to wear hats. It is believed that only the chief has the right to cover his head with a hat. It is also taboo to touch the head of a Fijian, even a child.
35. Now most of the locals are Christians, Methodists and Catholics. But they retain the beliefs of their ancestors. They continue to believe that humans emerged from an egg hatched by the snake-like god Degei.
36. The national dress of the islanders is the sulu, a special skirt made of fabric decorated with beautiful geometric patterns. Sulu is worn by men and women both in everyday life and at ceremonial events. For business receptions, a shirt or jacket is worn over the sulu.
37. Any holiday on the islands is accompanied by music and dancing. The favourite dance of the islanders is meke, in which the performer not only dances but also tells a story. Meke can be military, female and even sitting.
38. The national musical instrument is the lali, a slit drum, which is used to accompany dances. Now the company of lali is quite European guitars and mandolins.
39. The national cuisine of the country differs little from that of the neighbouring island states. The main dish of Fijians is kakonda – fish marinated in lime juice.
40. The favourite drink of the islanders is kava – an intoxicating, but non-alcoholic drink made of pepper.
Nature of Fiji
41. The islands are characterised by a humid tropical climate with a slight temperature gradient through the seasons. The eastern coast of the islands is highly humidified, while the western coast is strongly influenced by the El Niño current.
42. The hurricane and tropical cyclone season lasts in the archipelago from November to April. The islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu are the most affected.
43. Most of the islands of the archipelago are of volcanic origin. They have mountainous relief and are densely covered with tropical vegetation. Tourists are particularly attracted by the marvellous beaches and volcanic ridges cut by valleys and gorges.
44. The islands’ animal life is poor, but there is an abundance of insects, including more than 450 species of tropical butterflies.
45. The flora of the islands is represented by mangrove and tropical rainforests. Mangroves are found in the deltas of large rivers on the leeward side of the islands. Tropical forests, on the contrary, grow on the windward side.
46. The main wealth of the islands are beaches and coral reefs. One of the largest reefs in the world is considered to be Astrolabe. This reef surrounds Kandavu Island and attracts divers from all over the world.
47. Another wonder of the republic are the mountains. The most beautiful of them are in Koroyanitu National Heritage Park – Batilamu or «Giant», and Koroyanitu or «Devil’s Village».
48. The mountain rivers represent another wonder of the country. They flow among dense forests, sheer cliffs and huge boulders. The rivers are often rafted by extreme rafting enthusiasts.
49. Caves are also a natural attraction of the islands. Among them, the coastal caves of Yasawa Island are especially famous. They are dug into the rocks by the sea tide and can be accessed through an underwater tunnel. The film «Blue Lagoon» was shot in these caves.
50. Near the town of Sigatoka on the island of Viti Levu there are picturesque dunes up to 20 metres high. Now there is a national park here, and in the past people lived here. Here, archaeologists have found samples of ceramics of the oldest population of the archipelago.
Friends, if you know more interesting facts about Fijians and Fiji, please share them in the comments. This country is full of amazing stories, culture and traditions, and many people would be happy to learn something new. We will be very grateful to you!