Official Name: Republic of Fiji
Established: 10 October 1970 (from the United Kingdom)
Population: 912,241 (2018 estimate)
Religion: 64.4% Christianity, 27.9% Hinduism
Language: English, Fiji Hindi
Order of Visit: Thirty-Sixth
First Visit: 1 November 2010
Last Visit: 5 November 2010
Duration: 5 Days
Must Do: Gardens of the Sleeping Giant, Viseisei Village, Vuda Lookout, Sunset Cruise, Swimming and Relaxing
Places Visited: Nadi, Viseisei Village
Fiji Journal Entries
History and Geography
Fiji is an island country in Melanesia, part of Oceania in the South Pacific Ocean about 1,100 nautical miles northeast of New Zealand. Fiji consists of an archipelago of more than 330 islands—of which about 110 are permanently inhabited—and more than 500 islets, amounting to a total land area of about 18,300 square kilometres.
Archeological evidence shows signs of settlement on Moturiki Island from 600 BC and possibly as far back as 900 BC. In the 10th century, the Tu’i Tonga Empire was established in Tonga, and Fiji came within its sphere of influence. The Tongan influence brought Polynesian customs and language into Fiji.
A unique Fijian culture developed started to develop in the 13th century. With the arrival of Europeans in the late 1700s, many elements of Fijian culture were repressed. This was especially the case concerning traditional Fijian spiritual beliefs. Dutch explorer Abel Tasman was the first known European visitor to Fiji. James Cook, the British navigator, visited one of the southern Lau islands in 1774. It was not until 1789, however, that the islands were charted and plotted.
Early colonists and missionaries utilised and conflated the concept of cannibalism in Fiji to give a moral imperative for colonial intrusion.
The rising price of cotton in the wake of the American Civil War (1861–1865) saw a flood of hundreds of settlers come to Fiji in the 1860s. The British made Fiji part of their Empire on 1874.
Fiji was not really involved in World War I but was in World War II with the creaiton of the Fiji Infantry Regiment. An airstrip was built at Nadi (later to become an international airport), and gun emplacements studded the coast to stop Japanese invaders. Fijians gained a reputation for bravery in the Solomon Islands campaign.
The British granted Fiji independence in 1970. Democratic rule was interrupted by two military coups in 1987 precipitated by a growing perception that the government was dominated by the Indo-Fijian (Indian) community. The second 1987 coup saw both the Fijian monarchy and the Governor General replaced by a non-executive president and the name of the country changed to Republic of Fiji. In 1990, the new constitution institutionalised ethnic Fijian domination of the political system.
1997 saw a 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. The year 2000 brought along another coup, instigated by George Speight which was followed by around coup in 2006. On 1 September 2009, Fiji was suspended from the Commonwealth of Nations. The action was taken because Cdre. Bainimarama failed to hold elections by 2010 as the Commonwealth of Nations had demanded after the 2006 coup.
A general election took place on 17 September 2014. Bainimarama’s Fiji First party won with 59.2% of the vote, and the election was deemed credible by a group of international observers. Fiji has been relatively stable since.
Fiji has a significant amount of tourism with the popular regions being Nadi, the Coral Coast, Denarau Island, and Mamanuca Islands. The biggest sources of international visitors by country are Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Fiji’s main attractions to tourists are primarily white sandy beaches and aesthetically pleasing islands with all-year-round tropical weather.
What I Experience
A visit to Fiji is mostly going to be about sun and beaches with hopefully some cultural experiences and that is exactly what I experienced.
It’s very sad that some of the most beautiful islands around the world have some much violence and turmoil. I definitely could see and experience the beauty in Fiji but most Westerners are kept away from the majority of the local population as the resorts are mostly shut off from the surrounding population. I was glad that for at least one day I left the secure resort area and visited local villages and undertook some mini hikes in the Fiji environment.
The beaches are amazing and the ocean a joy to swim and relax in. A perfect place to be shut off from the world and just relax.