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Fiji, officially the Republic of Fiji, is an island country in Melanesia, part of Oceania in the South Pacific Ocean. It lies about 1,100 nautical miles (2,000 km; 1,300 mi) 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 (7,100 sq mi). The most outlying island group is Ono-i-Lau. About 87% of the total population of 883,483 live on the two major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. About three-quarters of Fijians live on Viti Levu's coasts: either in the capital city of Suva; or in smaller urban centres such as Nadi—where tourism is the major local industry; or in Lautoka, where the sugar-cane industry is dominant. The interior of Viti Levu is sparsely inhabited because of its terrain.
The majority of Fiji's islands were formed by volcanic activity starting around 150 million years ago. Some geothermal activity still occurs today on the islands of Vanua Levu and Taveuni. The geothermal systems on Viti Levu are non-volcanic in origin and have low-temperature surface discharges (of between roughly 35 and 60 degrees Celsius).
Humans have lived in Fiji since the second millennium BC—first Austronesians and later Melanesians, with some Polynesian influences. Europeans first visited Fiji in the 17th century. In 1874, after a brief period in which Fiji was an independent kingdom, the British established the Colony of Fiji. Fiji operated as a Crown colony until 1970 when it gained independence and became known as the Dominion of Fiji. In 1987, following a series of coups d'état, the military government that had taken power declared it to be a Republic. In a 2006 coup, Commodore Frank Bainimarama seized power. In 2009, the Fijian High Court ruled that the military leadership was unlawful. At that point, President Ratu Josefa Iloilo, whom the military had retained as the nominal head of state, formally abrogated the 1997 Constitution and reappointed Bainimarama as interim prime minister. Later in 2009, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau succeeded Iloilo as president. On 17 September 2014, after years of delays, a democratic election took place. Bainimarama's FijiFirst party won 59.2% of the vote, and international observers deemed the election credible.
Fiji has one of the most developed economies in the Pacific through its abundant forest, mineral, and fish resources. The currency is the Fijian dollar, with the main sources of foreign exchange being the tourist industry, remittances from Fijians working abroad, bottled water exports, and sugar cane. The Ministry of Local Government and Urban Development supervises Fiji's local government, which takes the form of city and town councils.
The name of Fiji's main island, Viti Levu, served as the origin of the name "Fiji", though the common English pronunciation is based on that of Fiji's island neighbours in Tonga. An official account of the emergence of the name states:
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 valued 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.
"Feejee", the Anglicised spelling of the Tongan pronunciation, occurred in accounts and other writings by missionaries and other travellers visiting Fiji until the late-19th century.
Pottery art from Fijian towns shows that Fiji was settled by Austronesian peoples by at least 3500 to 1000 BC, with Melanesians following around a thousand years later, although there are still many open questions about the specific dates and patterns of human migration into Fiji and many other Pacific islands. It is believed that either 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; the old culture may have had some influence on the new one, and archaeological evidence shows that some of the migrants moved on to Samoa, Tonga and even Hawai'i. Archeological evidence also shows signs of human settlement on Moturiki Island beginning at least by 600 BC and possibly as far back as 900 BC. Although some aspects of Fijian culture are similar to the Melanesian culture of the western Pacific, Fijian culture has a stronger connection to the older Polynesian cultures. The evidence is clear that there was trade between Fiji and neighbouring archipelagos long before Europeans made contact with Fiji. For example: The remains of ancient canoes made from native Fijian trees have been found in Tonga; the language of Fiji's Lau Islands contains Tongan words, and ancient pots that had been made in Fiji have been found in Samoa and even as far away as the Marquesas Islands.
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. That empire began to decline in the 13th century.
Unsurprisingly, since Fiji spans 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) from east to west, it has been a nation of many languages. Fiji has long had permanent settlements, but its peoples also have a history of mobility. Over the centuries, unique Fijian cultural practices developed. Fijians constructed large, elegant watercraft, with rigged sails called drua and exported some of to Tonga. Fijians also developed a distinctive style of village architecture, including of communal and individual bure and vale housing, and an advanced system of ramparts and moats that were usually constructed around the more important settlements. Pigs were domesticated for food, and a variety of agricultural plantations, such as banana plantations, existed from an early stage. Villages were supplied with water brought in by constructed wooden aqueducts. Fijians lived in societies led by chiefs, elders and notable warriors. Spiritual leaders, often called bete, were also important cultural figures, and the production and consumption of yaqona was part of their ceremonial and community rites. Fijians developed a monetary system where the polished teeth of the sperm whale, called tambua, became an active currency. A type of writing existed which can be seen today in various petroglyphs around the islands.[2
Fijians developed a refined masi cloth textile industry, and used the cloth they produced to make sails and clothes such as the malo and the liku. As with most other ancient human civilisations, warfare or preparation for warfare was an important part of everyday life in pre-colonial Fiji. The Fijians were noted for their distinctive use of weapons, especially war clubs. Fijians use many different types of clubs that can be broadly divided into two groups, two-handed clubs and small specialised throwing clubs called ula.
With the arrival of Europeans in the 17th century, and European colonization in the late 19th century, many elements of Fijian culture were either repressed or modified to ensure European — specifically, British - control. This was especially the case with respect to traditional Fijian spiritual beliefs. Early colonists and missionaries pointed to the practice of cannibalism in Fiji as providing a moral imperative justifying colonization.
Europeans labelled many native Fijian customs as debased or primitive, enabling many colonists to see Fiji as a "paradise wasted on savage cannibals". Stories of cannibalism were circulated during the 19th century, such as one about Ratu Udre Udre, who was said to have consumed 872 people and to have made a pile of stones to record his achievement. Stories like that made it easier for Europeans to stereotype and denigrate Fijians as "uncivilised". Authors such as Deryck Scarr have perpetuated 19th-century claims of "freshly killed corpses piled up for eating" and ceremonial mass human sacrifice on the construction of new houses and boats. In fact, during colonial times, Fiji was known as the Cannibal Isles. On the other hand, William MacGregor, the long-term chief medical officer in British colonial Fiji, wrote that tasting of the flesh of the enemy was done only on rare occasions, and only "to indicate supreme hatred and not out of relish for a gastronomic treat".
However, recent archaeological research conducted on Fijian sites has shown that Fijians did in fact practice cannibalism, which has helped modern scholars to assess the accuracy of some of these colonial European accounts. Studies conducted by scholars including Degusta, Cochrane, and Jones provide evidence of burnt or cut human skeletons, suggesting that that cannibalism was practised in Fiji. In a 2015 study by Jones et al., isotopic analysis of bone collagen provided evidence that human flesh had been consumed by Fijians, although it was likely a small, and not necessarily regular, part of their diet.
However, these archaeological accounts indicate that cannibalistic practices were likely more intermittent and less ubiquitous than European settlers had implied. They also suggest that and that exocannibalism (cannibalism of members of outsider tribes), and cannibalism practiced as a means of violence or revenge, played significantly smaller roles in Fijian culture than colonial European accounts suggested. It appears that cannibalism may more often have been nonviolent and ritualistic.
Early interaction with Europeans
Dutch explorer Abel Tasman was the first known European visitor to Fiji, sighting the northern island of Vanua Levu and the North Taveuni archipelago in 1643 while looking for the Great Southern Continent.
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, when William Bligh, the castaway captain of HMS Bounty, passed Ovalau and sailed between the main islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu en route to Batavia, in what is now Indonesia. Bligh Water, the strait between the two main islands, is named after him, and for a time, the Fiji Islands were known as the Bligh Islands.
The first Europeans to land and live among the Fijians were shipwrecked sailors like Charles Savage.
The first Europeans to maintain substantial contact with the Fijians were sandalwood merchants, whalers and "beche-de-mer" (sea cucumber) traders. The first whaling vessel known to have visited was the Ann and Hope in 1799, and she was followed by many others in the 19th century. These ships came for drinking water, food and firewood and, later, for men to help man their ships. Some of the Europeans who came to Fiji in this period were accepted by the locals and were allowed to stay as residents. Probably the most famous of these was a Swede by the name of Kalle Svenson, better known as Charlie Savage. Savage was permitted to take wives and establish himself in a high rank in Bau society in exchange for helping defeat local adversaries. In 1813, Savage became a victim of this lifestyle and was killed in a botched raid.
By the 1820s, Levuka was established as the first European-style town in Fiji, on the island of Ovalau. The market for "beche-de-mer" in China was lucrative, and British and American merchants set up processing stations on various islands. Local Fijians were utilised to collect, prepare and pack the product which would then be shipped to Asia. A good cargo would result in a half-yearly profit of around $25,000 for the dealer. The Fijian workers were often given firearms and ammunition as an exchange for their labour, and by the end of the 1820s most of the Fijian chiefs had muskets and many were skilled at using them. Some Fijian chiefs soon felt confident enough with their new weapons to forcibly obtain more destructive weaponry from the Europeans. In 1834, men from Viwa and Bau were able to take control of the French ship L'amiable Josephine and use its cannon against their enemies on the Rewa River, although they later ran it aground.
Christian missionaries like David Cargill also arrived in the 1830s from recently converted regions such as Tonga and Tahiti, and by 1840 the European settlement at Levuka had grown to about 40 houses with former whaler David Whippey being a notable resident. The religious conversion of the Fijians was a gradual process that was observed first-hand by Captain Charles Wilkes of the United States Exploring Expedition. Wilkes wrote that "all the chiefs seemed to look upon Christianity as a change in which they had much to lose and little to gain". Christianised Fijians, in addition to forsaking their spiritual beliefs, were pressured into cutting their hair short, adopting the sulu form of dress from Tonga, and fundamentally changing their marriage and funeral traditions. This process of enforced cultural change was called lotu. Intensification of conflict between the cultures increased, and Wilkes was involved in organising a large punitive expedition against the people of Malolo. He ordered an attack with rockets which acted as makeshift incendiary devices. The village, with the occupants trapped inside, quickly became an inferno with Wilkes noting that the "shouts of men were intermingled with the cries and shrieks of the women and children" as they burnt to death. Wilkes demanded the survivors should "sue for mercy" and if not "they must expect to be exterminated". Around 57 to 87 Maloloan people were killed in this encounter.
The 1840s was a time of conflict where various Fiji clans attempted to assert dominance over each other. Eventually, a warlord named Seru Epenisa Cakobau of Bau Island was able to become a powerful influence in the region. His father was Ratu Tanoa Visawaqa, the Vunivalu (a chiefly title meaning warlord, often translated also as paramount chief) who had previously subdued much of western Fiji. Cakobau, following on from his father, became so dominant that he was able to expel the Europeans from Levuka for five years over a dispute about their giving of weapons to his local enemies. In the early 1850s, Cakobau went one step further and declared war on all Christians. His plans were thwarted after the missionaries in Fiji received support from the already converted Tongans and the presence of a British warship. The Tongan Prince Enele Ma'afu, a Christian, had established himself on the island of Lakeba in 1848, forcibly converting the local people to the Methodist Church. Cakobau and other chiefs in the west of Fiji regarded Ma'afu as a threat to their power and resisted his attempts to expand Tonga's dominion. Cakobau's influence, however, began to wane, and his heavy imposition of taxes on other Fijian chiefs, who saw him at best as first among equals, caused them to defect from him.
Around this time the United States also became interested in asserting their power in the region, and they threatened intervention following a number of incidents involving their consul in the Fiji islands, John Brown Williams. In 1849, Williams had his trading store looted following an accidental fire, caused by stray cannon fire during a Fourth of July celebration, and in 1853 the European settlement of Levuka was burnt to the ground. Williams blamed Cakobau for both these incidents, and the U.S. representative wanted Cakobau's capital at Bau destroyed in retaliation. A naval blockade was instead set up around the island which put further pressure on Cakobau to give up on his warfare against the foreigners and their Christian allies. Finally, on 30 April 1854, Cakobau offered his soro (supplication) and yielded to these forces. He underwent the lotu and converted to Christianity. The traditional Fijian temples in Bau were destroyed, and the sacred nokonoko trees were cut down. Cakobau and his remaining men were then compelled to join with the Tongans, backed by the Americans and British, to subjugate the remaining chiefs in the region who still refused to convert. These chiefs were soon defeated with Qaraniqio of the Rewa being poisoned and Ratu Mara of Kaba being hanged in 1855. After these wars, most regions of Fiji, except for the interior highland areas, had been forced into giving up much of their traditional systems and were now vassals of Western interest. Cakobau was retained as a largely symbolic representative of a few Fijian peoples and was allowed to take the ironic and self-proclaimed title of "Tui Viti" ("King of Fiji"), but the overarching control now lay with foreign powers.
Cotton, confederacies and the Kai Colo
The rising price of cotton in the wake of the American Civil War (1861–1865) caused an influx of hundreds of settlers to Fiji in the 1860s from Australia and the United States in order to obtain land and grow cotton. Since there was still a lack of functioning government in Fiji, these planters were often able to get the land in violent or fraudulent ways such as exchanging weapons or alcohol with Fijians who may or may not have been the true owners. Although this made for cheap land acquisition, competing for land claims between the planters became problematic with no unified government to resolve the disputes. In 1865, the settlers proposed a confederacy of the seven main native kingdoms in Fiji to establish some sort of government. This was initially successful, and Cakobau was elected as the first president of the confederacy.
With the demand for land high, the white planters started to push into the hilly interior of Viti Levu. This put them into direct confrontation with the Kai Colo, which was a general term to describe the various Fijian clans resident to these inland districts. The Kai Colo were still living a mostly traditional lifestyle, they were not Christianised, and they were not under the rule of Cakobau or the confederacy. In 1867, a travelling missionary named Thomas Baker was killed by Kai Colo in the mountains at the headwaters of the Sigatoka River. The acting British consul, John Bates Thurston, demanded that Cakobau lead a force of Fijians from coastal areas to suppress the Kai Colo. Cakobau eventually led a campaign into the mountains but suffered a humiliating loss with 61 of his fighters being killed. Settlers also came into conflict with the local eastern Kai Colo people called the Wainimala. Thurston called in the Australia Station section of the Royal Navy for assistance. The Navy duly sent Commander Rowley Lambert and HMS Challenger to conduct a punitive mission against the Wainimala. An armed force of 87 men shelled and burnt the village of Deoka, and a skirmish ensued which resulted in the deaths of over 40 Wainimala.
Kingdom of Fiji (1871–1874)
After the collapse of the confederacy, Enele Maʻafu established a stable administration in the Lau Islands and the Tongans. Other foreign powers such as the United States were considering the possibility of annexing Fiji. This situation was not appealing to many settlers, almost all of whom were British subjects from Australia. Britain, however, refused to annex the country, and a compromise was needed.
In June 1871, George Austin Woods, an ex-lieutenant of the Royal Navy, managed to influence Cakobau and organise a group of like-minded settlers and chiefs into forming a governing administration. Cakobau was declared the monarch (Tui Viti) and the Kingdom of Fiji was established. Most Fijian chiefs agreed to participate, and even Ma'afu chose to recognise Cakobau and participate in the constitutional monarchy. However, many of the settlers had come from British colonies like Victoria and New South Wales where negotiation with the indigenous people almost universally involved forced coercion. As a result, several aggressive, racially motivated opposition groups, such as the British Subjects Mutual Protection Society, sprouted up. One group called themselves the Ku Klux Klan in a homage to the white supremacist group in America. However, when respected individuals such as Charles St Julian, Robert Sherson Swanston and John Bates Thurston were appointed by Cakobau, a degree of authority was established.
With the rapid increase in white settlers into the country, the desire for land acquisition also intensified. Once again, conflict with the Kai Colo in the interior of Viti Levu ensued. In 1871, the killing of two settlers near the Ba River (Fiji) in the northwest of the island prompted a large punitive expedition of white farmers, imported slave labourers, and coastal Fijians to be organised. This group of around 400 armed vigilantes, including veterans of the U.S. Civil War, had a battle with the Kai Colo near the village of Cubu, in which both sides had to withdraw. The village was destroyed, and the Kai Colo, despite being armed with muskets, received numerous casualties. The Kai Colo responded by making frequent raids on the settlements of the whites and Christian Fijians throughout the district of Ba. Likewise, in the east of the island on the upper reaches of the Rewa River, villages were burnt, and many Kai Colo were shot by the vigilante settler squad called the Rewa Rifles.
Although the Cakobau government did not approve of the settlers taking justice into their own hands, it did want the Kai Colo subjugated and their land sold. The solution was to form an army. Robert S. Swanston, the minister for Native Affairs in the Kingdom, organised the training and arming of suitable Fijian volunteers and prisoners to become soldiers in what was invariably called the King's Troops or the Native Regiment. In a similar system to the Native Police that was present in the colonies of Australia, two white settlers, James Harding and W. Fitzgerald, were appointed as the head officers of this paramilitary brigade. The formation of this force did not sit well with many of the white plantation owners as they did not trust an army of Fijians to protect their interests.
The situation intensified further in early 1873 when the Burns family was killed by a Kai Colo raid in the Ba River area. The Cakobau government deployed 50 King's Troopers to the region under the command of Major Fitzgerald to restore order. The local whites refused their posting, and the deployment of another 50 troops under Captain Harding was sent to emphasise the government's authority. To prove the worth of the Native Regiment, this augmented force went into the interior and massacred about 170 Kai Colo people at Na Korowaiwai. Upon returning to the coast, the force was met by the white settlers who still saw the government troops as a threat. A skirmish between the government's troops and the white settlers' brigade was only prevented by the intervention of Captain William Cox Chapman of HMS Dido, who detained the leaders of the locals, forcing the group to disband. The authority of the King's Troops and the Cakobau government to crush the Kai Colo was now total.
From March to October 1873, a force of about 200 King's Troops under the general administration of Swanston with around 1,000 coastal Fijian and white volunteer auxiliaries, led a campaign throughout the highlands of Viti Levu to annihilate the Kai Colo. Major Fitzgerald and Major H.C. Thurston (the brother of John Bates Thurston) led a two-pronged attack throughout the region. The combined forces of the different clans of the Kai Colo made a stand at the village of Na Culi. The Kai Colo were defeated with dynamite and fire being used to flush them out from their defensive positions amongst the mountain caves. Many Kai Colo were killed, and one of the main leaders of the hill clans, Ratu Dradra, was forced to surrender with around 2,000 men, women and children being taken prisoner and sent to the coast. In the months after this defeat, the only main resistance was from the clans around the village of Nibutautau. Major Thurston crushed this resistance in the two months following the battle at Na Culi. Villages were burnt, Kai Colo were killed, and a further large number of prisoners were taken. About 1,000 of the prisoners (men, women and children) were sent to Levuka where some were hanged and the rest were sold into slavery and forced to work on various plantations throughout the islands.
Sir Arthur Gordon and the "Little War"
Robinson was replaced as Governor of Fiji in June 1875 by Sir Arthur Hamilton Gordon. Gordon was immediately faced with an insurgency of the Qalimari and Kai Colo people. In early 1875, colonial administrator Edgar Leopold Layard had met with thousands of highland clans at Navuso to formalise their subjugation to British rule and Christianity. Layard and his delegation managed to spread the measles epidemic to the highlanders, causing mass deaths in this population. As a result, anger at the British colonists flared throughout the region, and a widespread uprising quickly took hold. Villages along the Sigatoka River and in the highlands above this area refused British control, and Gordon was tasked with quashing this rebellion.
In what Gordon termed the "Little War", the suppression of this uprising took the form of two co-ordinated military campaigns in the western half of Viti Levu. The first was conducted by Gordon's second cousin, Arthur John Lewis Gordon, against the Qalimari insurgents along the Sigatoka River. The second campaign was led by Louis Knollys against the Kai Colo in the mountains to the north of the river. Governor Gordon invoked a type of martial law in the area where Arthur John Lewis Gordon and Knollys had absolute power to conduct their missions outside of any restrictions of legislation. The two groups of rebels were kept isolated from each other by a force led by Walter Carew and George Le Hunte who were stationed at Nasaucoko. Carew also ensured the rebellion did not spread east by securing the loyalty of the Wainimala people of the eastern highlands. The war involved the use of the soldiers of the old Native Regiment of Cakobau supported by around 1,500 Christian Fijian volunteers from other areas of Viti Levu. The colonial New Zealand Government provided most of the advanced weapons for the army including 100 Snider rifles.
The campaign along the Sigatoka River was conducted under a scorched earth policy whereby numerous rebel villages were burnt and their fields ransacked. After the capture and destruction of the main fortified towns of Koroivatuma, Bukutia and Matanavatu, the Qalimari surrendered en masse. Those not killed in the fighting were taken prisoner and sent to the coastal town of Cuvu. This included 827 men, women and children as well as Mudu, the leader of the insurgents. The women and children were distributed to places like Nadi and Nadroga. Of the men, 15 were sentenced to death at a hastily conducted trial at Sigatoka. Governor Gordon was present but chose to leave the judicial responsibility to his relative, Arthur John Lewis Gordon. Four were hanged and ten, including Mudu, were shot with one prisoner managing to escape. By the end of proceedings the governor noted that "my feet were literally stained with the blood that I had shed".
The northern campaign against the Kai Colo in the highlands was similar but involved removing the rebels from large, well-protected caves in the region. Knollys managed to clear the caves "after some considerable time and large expenditure of ammunition". The occupants of these caves included whole communities, and as a result many men, women and children were either killed or wounded in these operations. The rest were taken prisoner and sent to the towns on the northern coast. The chief medical officer in British Fiji, William MacGregor, also took part both in killing Kai Colo and tending to their wounded. After the caves were taken, the Kai Colo surrendered and their leader, Bisiki, was captured. Various trials were held, mostly at Nasaucoko under Le Hunte, and 32 men were either hanged or shot including Bisiki, who was killed trying to escape
By the end of October 1876, the "Little War" was over, and Gordon had succeeded in vanquishing the rebels in the interior of Viti Levu. Remaining insurgents were sent into exile with hard labour for up to 10 years. Some non-combatants were allowed to return to rebuild their villages, but many areas in the highlands were ordered by Gordon to remain depopulated and in ruins. Gordon also constructed a military fortress, Fort Canarvon, at the headwaters of the Sigatoka River where a large contingent of soldiers were based to maintain British control. He renamed the Native Regiment, the Armed Native Constabulary to lessen its appearance of being a military force.
To further consolidate social control throughout the colony, Governor Gordon introduced a system of appointed chiefs and village constables in the various districts to both enact his orders and report any disobedience from the populace. Gordon adopted the chiefly titles Roko and Buli to describe these deputies and established a Great Council of Chiefs which was directly subject to his authority as Supreme Chief. This body remained in existence until being suspended by the military-backed interim government in 2007 and only abolished in 2012. Gordon also extinguished the ability of Fijians to own, buy or sell land as individuals, the control being transferred to colonial authorities.
Indian indenture system in Fiji
Gordon decided in 1878 to import indentured labourers from India to work on the sugarcane fields that had taken the place of the cotton plantations. The 463 Indians arrived on 14 May 1879 – the first of some 61,000 that were to come before the scheme ended in 1916. The plan involved bringing the Indian workers to Fiji on a five-year contract, after which they could return to India at their own expense; if they chose to renew their contract for a second five-year term, they would be given the option of returning to India at the government's expense, or remaining in Fiji. The great majority chose to stay. The Queensland Act, which regulated indentured labour in Queensland, was made law in Fiji also.
Between 1879 and 1916, tens of thousands of Indians moved to Fiji to work as indentured labourers, especially on sugarcane plantations. A total of 42 ships made 87 voyages, carrying Indian indentured labourers to Fiji. Initially the ships brought labourers from Calcutta, but from 1903 all ships except two also brought labourers from Madras and Bombay. A total of 60,965 passengers left India but only 60,553 (including births at sea) arrived in Fiji. A total of 45,439 boarded ships in Calcutta and 15,114 in Madras. Sailing ships took, on average, 73 days for the trip while steamers took 30 days. The shipping companies associated with the labour trade were Nourse Line and British-India Steam Navigation Company.
Repatriation of indentured Indians from Fiji began on 3 May 1892, when the British Peer brought 464 repatriated Indians to Calcutta. Various ships made similar journeys to Calcutta and Madras, concluding with Sirsa's 1951 voyage. In 1955 and 1956, three ships brought Indian labourers from Fiji to Sydney, from where the labourers flew to Bombay. Indentured Indians wishing to return to India were given two options. One was travel at their own expense and the other free of charge but subject to certain conditions. To obtain free passage back to India, labourers had to have been above age twelve upon arrival, completed at least five years of service and lived in Fiji for a total of ten consecutive years. A child born to these labourers in Fiji could accompany his or her parents or guardian back to India if he or she was under twelve. Because of the high cost of returning at their own expense, most indentured immigrants returning to India left Fiji around ten to twelve years after their arrival. Indeed, just over twelve years passed between the voyage of the first ship carrying indentured Indians to Fiji (the Leonidas, in 1879) and the first ship to take Indians back (the British Peer, in 1892). Given the steady influx of ships carrying indentured Indians to Fiji up until 1916, repatriated Indians generally boarded these same ships on their return voyage. The total number of repatriates under the Fiji indenture system is recorded as 39,261, while the number of arrivals is said to have been 60,553. Because the return figure includes children born in Fiji, many of the indentured Indians never returned to India. Direct return voyages by ship ceased after 1951. Instead, arrangements were made for flights from Sydney to Bombay, the first of which departed in July 1955. Labourers still travelled to Sydney by ship.
On 1 September 2009, Fiji was suspended from the Commonwealth of Nations. The action was taken because Bainimarama failed to hold elections by 2010 as the Commonwealth of Nations had demanded after the 2006 coup. Bainimarama stated a need for more time to end a voting system that heavily favoured ethnic Fijians at the expense of the multi-ethnic minorities. Critics claimed that he had suspended the constitution and was responsible for human rights violations by arresting and detaining opponents.
In his 2010 New Year's address, Bainimarama announced the lifting of the Public Emergency Regulations (PER). However, the PER was not rescinded until January 2012, and the Suva Philosophy Club was the first organisation to reorganise and convene public meetings. The PER had been put in place in April 2009 when the former constitution was abrogated. The PER had allowed restrictions on speech, public gatherings, and censorship of news media and had given security forces added powers. He also announced a nationwide consultation process leading to a new constitution under which the 2014 elections were to be held.
On 14 March 2014, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group voted to change Fiji's full suspension from the Commonwealth of Nations to a suspension from the councils of the Commonwealth, allowing them to participate in a number of Commonwealth activities, including the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The suspension was lifted in September 2014.
Fiji lies approximately 5,100 km southwest of Hawaii and roughly 3,150 km from Sydney, Australia. Fiji is the hub of the Southwest Pacific, midway between Vanuatu and Tonga. The archipelago is located between 176° 53′ east and 178° 12′ west. The archipelago is roughly 498,000 square miles and less than 2 percent is dry land. The 180° meridian runs through Taveuni, but the International Date Line 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 covers a total area of some 194,000 square kilometres (75,000 sq mi) of which around 10% is land. Fiji consists of 332 islands (of which 106 are inhabited) and 522 smaller islets. The two most important islands are Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, which account for about 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-largest 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 has special administrative status in Fiji. Ceva-i-Ra, an uninhabited reef, is located about 250 nautical miles (460 km; 290 mi) southwest of the main archipelago.
Fiji contains two ecoregions: Fiji tropical moist forests and Fiji tropical dry forests. It had a 2018 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 8.35/10, ranking it 24th globally out of 172 countries.
The climate in Fiji is tropical marine and warm year-round with minimal extremes. The warm season is from November to April, and the cooler season lasts from May to October. Temperatures in the cool season average 22 °C (72 °F). Rainfall is variable, with the warm season experiencing heavier rainfall, especially inland. For the larger islands, rainfall is heavier on the southeast portions of the islands than on the northwest portions, with consequences for agriculture in those areas. Winds are moderate, though cyclones occur about once annually (10–12 times per decade).
On 20 February 2016, Fiji was hit by the full force of Cyclone Winston, the only Category 5 tropical cyclone to make landfall in the nation. Winston destroyed tens of thousands of homes across the island, killing 44 people and causing an estimated FJ$2 billion (US$1 billion) in damage.
Government and politics
Politics in Fiji normally take place in the framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic wherein the Prime Minister of Fiji is the head of government and 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, and the judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.
A general election took place on 17 September 2014. Bainimarama's FijiFirst party won with 59.2% of the vote, and the election was deemed credible by a group of international observers from Australia, India and Indonesia.
Armed forces and law enforcement
The military consists of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces with a total manpower of 3,500 active soldiers and 6,000 reservists and includes a Navy unit of 300 personnel. The land force comprises the Fiji Infantry Regiment (regular and territorial force organised into six light infantry battalions), Fiji Engineer Regiment, Logistic Support Unit and Force Training Group. Relative to 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.
The law enforcement branch is composed of the Fiji Police Force and Fiji Corrections Service.
Endowed with forest, mineral, and fish resources, Fiji is one of the most developed of the Pacific island economies, though still with a large subsistence sector. Some progress was experienced by this sector when Marion M. Ganey introduced credit unions to the islands in the 1950s. 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 coups of 1987 caused further contraction.
Economic liberalisation in the years following the coups created a boom in the garment industry and a steady growth rate despite growing uncertainty regarding 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 subsidies for sugar provided by the EU. Fiji's gold mining industry is based in Vatukoula.
Urbanisation and expansion in the service sector have contributed to recent GDP growth. Sugar exports and a rapidly growing tourist industry – with tourists numbering 430,800 in 2003 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 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.
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 has a significant number of soft coral reefs, and scuba diving is a common tourist activity. Fiji's main attractions to tourists are primarily white sandy beaches and aesthetically pleasing islands with all-year-round tropical weather. In general, Fiji is a mid-range priced holiday/vacation destination with most of the accommodations in this range. It also has a variety of world-class five-star resorts and hotels. More budget resorts are being opened in remote areas, which will provide more tourism opportunities.] CNN named Fiji's Laucala Island Resort as one of the fifteen world's most beautiful island hotels.
Official statistics show that in 2012, 75% of visitors stated that they came for a holiday/vacation. Honeymoons are very popular as are romantic getaways in general. There are also family-friendly resorts with facilities for young children including kids' clubs and nanny options. Fiji has several popular tourism destinations. The Botanical Gardens of Thursten in Suva, Sigatoka Sand Dunes, and Colo-I-Suva Forest Park are three options on the mainland (Viti Levu). A major attraction on the outer islands is scuba diving.
Location is everything!
We are the closest resort to Bouma National Heritage Park i.e. less travel time & less expensive transfers.
We are in Matei, on the Northern side of the island, where the dive shops, restaurants, bars and shops are located.
The heart and soul of this resort are our staff. When you come here, you will be treated as a friend of the family. Therein lies the secret of our success – these people will change your perspective of what a holiday should be.
As a recent friend and guest said “After being on Taveuni for almost two weeks it was difficult to leave. An hour there seemed to last 2 hours; completely devoid of a sense of urgency. The simplicity of life on Taveuni is very soothing & relaxing, which is exactly what we were seeking on our holiday. We look forward to returning to collect the pieces of our hearts that we left behind.”
Private and intimate accommodation with direct beach access.
The Banana Bure
This bure is located right down on the lower part of the property, closest to the beach. The cottage has windows all around, with views of the ocean from 3 sides.
From your king-size bed, you can see banana trees, hibiscus and watch the sunrise over the 1st island. There is a little fridge in the room for your snacks & cold drinks, and a lovely ceiling fan spinning over your bed.
When you return from your swim it is ten steps from the beach up to the attached hot water honeymoon shower. You can see the ocean while you bathe outdoors in complete privacy! (there are walls on all sides with a door on the front that is just high enough for privacy, but low enough to see the ocean) It is so nice that many of our guests have returned to their homes & added outdoor showers after their stay here with us! After you’ve enjoyed bathing in privacy outdoors, there is a second door that brings you right into the cottage. Now, this is the way to bathe in the tropics!
At night when you close your eyes, you will hear the sound of the waves on the shore outside your windows. If you like, you can tiptoe down to the sand for a dip under the stars. Otherwise, the hammock is a great place to relax and see the clearest night sky you’ve ever seen. Ever.
The Mango Bure
This is our newest bure, & from every window are views of the beach and the garden, with mango trees and butterfly orchids in abundance outside. Large windows allow the warm tropical breeze to carry the scent of flowers into your room. Just 30 steps & you are on the beach!
Are you looking for a breathtaking view? If you are, this is the bure for you. Because it is set up the slope from the beach this bure has the advantage of height with expansive ocean views. Our island is famous for the kula birds, which look like small parrots. And the best seats in the house at sundown are on the verandah of the Mango Bure. You will see them flitting through the air at sunset, flying in packs from coconut tree to coconut tree.
The Mango Bure has a king-size bed and overhead fan. There is also a single bed under the side window on which you can read your book, and a small fridge nearby for your cold drinks. It is a spacious room with high ceilings, and the walls are covered in indigenous reeds that give the room a real island feeling. There is a large verandah in the front with two oversized chaise lounges. It is the perfect spot to spend the late afternoon and watch the colors of the sky change over the ocean as the sunsets.
From the bathroom, you step outdoors to the attached hot water “honeymoon shower”. It was built from lava rocks we found down the island and has a Mango tree cascading over the rock wall. Talk about a special place to bathe! You haven’t lived until you have showered here outdoors, in total privacy, looking out at the sea.
The Papaya Bure
This light and airy bure are cooled by the trade winds that rustle through the papaya trees outside. It has a queen-size bed, ceiling fan and a little fridge in the corner for your cold drinks. Its louvered windows provide beautiful views of the ocean and sunrise from your bed! Outside, on your verandah, there are heliconias and hibiscus everywhere, and down a few steps is the outdoor lava rock shower.
Of course, there is a hot water shower inside your bure, but this outside one is the perfect place to rinse off after a swim & watch the sunlight reflect off the ocean waters. It has a cute little half door in the front so that you can see the ocean from here without frightening the fish.
Many guests love the fact that this bure has views of sunrise & the 3 islands right from their bed! It is smaller than the other 2 bures (192 sq feet inside plus a 64 sq foot outside verandah), but just as lovely with wonderful beach views. From this bure, the soft white sand beach is only 29 steps.
Inclusive in your room rate
All Bookings Made From This Website Include
Plus a little extra for longer stays
And for Stays of 5 Nights or Longer, You Also Get:
The Best Place To Dine on Taveuni
We are consistently rated as one of the best places to eat on the island for guests and non-guests alike.
The restaurant is small and intimate, set on the front verandah of our island home and overlooking the ocean. It is a very special feeling that we want you to experience.
We lean towards fresh fish and seafood, organically grown vegetables from our garden and homemade pasta. We love to prepare curries and Fijian food as well, and we also serve organic grass-fed aged Taveuni eye fillet and burgers!
You can enjoy your meal in the restaurant, on your private verandah, or down on the beach by candlelight.
Our House Reef
Are you a snorkeler?
These are the three main reasons that guests say they chose this slice of paradise:
In addition to being the lone resort under $500 that is located on the only soft sand beach on Taveuni, we are fortunate to be the top-rated house reef on the island!
Our coral cover is 20% higher than the average Fiji reef (ours is 66% coral, the average is 45%).
You will love being able to swim a lazy 10-12 minutes right from the beach to over a dozen beautiful snorkel reefs. If you prefer to use the kayak it will just take you 8 or 10 minutes. Either way, you’re in for an incredible excursion.
When you arrive you will notice a basic map in the folder in your bure. It highlights some of my favorite snorkel spots. I try to update this every few months as my priorities change! But it will give you a good idea of which way to head out.
Many guests spend 3 or 4 hours out there exploring! And some guests come here just for our snorkeling.
In 29 years of living here, I must say I always see something new.
We have all the gear that you will need right here for you. The staff will set you up for your journey but we ask you to not go out 1.5 hours on either side of low tide. We want to protect you as well as our fragile reefs.
Diving The Rainbow Reef
Do you prefer to go further afield?
Our two favorite snorkel and dive shops will pick you up right from our doorstep here and take you out to what is rated the third-best snorkeling and diving in the world.
You will have a guide with you during your entire journey. When you come up from the snorkel or dive trip there’s heaps of snacks, hot tea and a clean towel waiting for you.
Julie and her team of experienced divers can offer to you world-class dive sites, PADI Dive Courses, daily dive excursions and well-maintained rental gear. All of this is only a short boat ride to the “Soft Coral Capital of the World”, take in the famous dive sites of “Rainbow Reef, The White Wall, The Cabbage Patch etc… too many to list.
Julie and her crew can offer to you:
Also available are, Picnic, fishing, and snorkeling trips.
Julie is fully certified to teach PADI qualifications to new divers to discover the beautiful underwater world here at Taveuni.
I promise you will not be disappointed once you see what is underwater on Taveuni!
Has a group of four fully trained massage therapists at our resort, here to pamper you during your stay on Taveuni Island in Fiji.
Their training comes from the director of SS School of M & Natural Therapeutics. This woman has had 35 years of experience in private practice in Hawaii and California and has mastered a broad spectrum of massage techniques which she has taught her students here in Fiji.
In this country, there is an abundance of natural talent in the massage and the healing arts that is passed down from the ancestors, so the professional training they receive simply enhances their natural gift.
Because of the high cost involved in this caliber of massage, it is usually only available at the upper-end resorts. Coconut Grove is proud to offer it to our guests at a very reasonable price.
Massage can be done at the new, private massage bure on the beach or on your private verandah.
Taveuni – Fiji’s “Garden Island”
Taveuni Island in Fiji is ideal for the traveller who wants to experience one of the few places left on earth that is still pristine and unaffected by the modern world. And our resort is right ‘in the thick of it all.
We can arrange any of the following for you:
On the other hand, you can simply chill and…
On the side, I would like to tell you something here. I have always been an admirer of the night sky – an amateur gazer I guess. Whether it was the sky in Connecticut where I grew up or the incredible shooting stars in Ladakh in northern India, they have all left incredible photos in my mind’s eye.
But I must say to you that you will never ever see the sky more clearly, more brilliantly, or more dramatically, than here on Taveuni in the Fiji Islands.
Bird Watching on Taveuni
The best “birder” on our island is Bobby, a man committed to the preservation of our bird wildlife on this island. Trips to his bird sanctuary can be arranged for you right here from the resort. The best time is late in the day and can be combined with a snorkel trip or horseback riding nearby.
Taveuni, Fiji is home to many species of tropical birds, a large proportion endemic.
Perhaps the main reason for the variety of birdlife is the absence of the mongoose, which was introduced on many of the other islands to control the rat population. Taveuni’s relatively inaccessible mountains and abundant food supply also have made it a haven for many species.
Professor Allen Keast and Mr. David Bishop, both respected in the field of bird watching, describe the experience here as one of their most memorable.
You may be fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of any or all of the following:
Orange Dove, Many Coloured Fruit Dove, Ground-Dove, Turtle Dove, Whistling Dove, Green Dove, Silk Tail, Parrot Finches, Honey-eater, Orange Breasted Honey-eater, Fly Catcher, Broad Bill, Fantail, Barking Pigeon, White-Throated Pigeon, Triller, Parrot, Collared Lory, White Eye, Golden Whistler.