Fiji lies in the heart of the Pacific Ocean midway between the Equator and the South Pole, and between longitudes 175 and 178 west and latitudes 15 and 22 south. Fiji’s Exclusive Economic Zone contains approximately 330 islands, of which about one third are inhabited. It covers about 1.3 million square kilometres of the South Pacific Ocean.
Fiji’s total land area is 18,333 square kilometres. There are two major islands - Viti Levu is 10,429 square kilometres and Vanua Levu 5,556 square kilometres. Other main islands are Taveuni (470 sq km), Kadavu (411 sq km), Gau(140 sq km), and Koro (104 sq km).
The first inhabitants of Fiji date back to ancient times. According to Fijian legend, the great chief Lutunasobasoba led his people across the seas to the newly-discovered islands of Fiji. Most experts agree that the first people to land on Fiji were from Southeast Asia and that they had entered into the Pacific via the Malay Peninsula. The Polynesians most likely arrived in Fiji over 3000 years ago, although they were conquered by Melanesian invaders around 1500 B.C. Both the Polynesians and the Melanesians mixed to create a unique culture and a highly developed society long before the first Europeans settled on the islands.
The first European arrivals in Fiji had been accidental. The first discovery was made in 1643 by a Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman. The second to land on Fiji was English navigator Captain James Cook in 1774, and he also continued to explore the islands during the 18th century. However, much of the credit of the discovery and recording of the Fiji Islands went to Captain William Bligh, who sailed through Fiji in 1789 after the mutiny on the Bounty, a British Royal Navy ship. At around the early 19th century, shipwrecked sailors and runaway convicts from the Australian penal settlements were the first Europeans to land and live among the Fijians, while missionaries and sandalwood traders came around at mid-century.
As European populations in Fiji increased, they gained greater influence on Fijian culture as well, and it was during this time that houses and canoes were built, Western-style clothing was first adopted, confederations were formed and wars were fought on a larger scale without precedent but ended more abruptly. Christianity had also spread throughout the islands, and cannibalism, which had once been practiced in Fiji, soon ended.
After being run as a British colony for nearly a century,Fiji became independent in 1970. Fiji is a democratically governed republic with a legal system based on British law.
On 9 June 2013, the President of Fiji, His Excellency Ratu Epeli Nailatikau gave his assent to the 2013 Constitution through the powers vested in him as the Head of State. The 2013 Constitution came into effect on 7 June 2013 and is the supreme law of Fiji. It provides for an independent judiciary, equal access to the law, freedom of speech and expression and a range of unprecedented rights for every Fijian.
On September 17, 2014,Fiji held her first democratic parliamentary elections on the basis of ‘one person, one vote, one value’ principle. Following a comfortable win by the Fiji First party in the election, the leader of the Fiji First Party, Mr. Voreqe Bainimarama was appointed Fiji’s Prime Minister on 22 September 2014.
The judicial power and authority of the State is vested in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the High Court, the Magistrates Court, and in other courts or tribunals as created by law.
Fiji's climate is warm and tropical year-round, even in the islands’ “winter” months. The average temperature in Fiji is 25°C (77°F), but it can climb to above 30°C (86°F) in summer (December and January) and sink to 18°C (64°F) in winter (July and August). Many people consider the Fijian winter, which is the dry season from May to October, to be the best time to visit the islands. This is when it is drier, ess humid and a bit cooler, so outside activities are more pleasant. However, this is also Fiji's peak tourist season so the prices for airfare and accommodation peak as well, especially in June and July.
People and Culture
Fiji is perhaps the most cosmopolitan of all South Pacific nations with a multiracial population of approximately 875,000 (2012 estimate) consisting of Fijians, Indians, Europeans, Rotumans, Chinese and other Pacific Islanders.
Fijian culture is a blend of Melanesian and Polynesian backgrounds, although Fiji is also influenced by other vibrant cultures, including Chinese, Indian, European and other South Pacific cultures, particularly Rotuman and Tongan. Indigenous Fijian culture is made up of a great variety of traditional language, art, music, food, clothing and folklore. This culture also gives high importance to the family unit.
Race relations inFijiare generally harmonious. It is unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of color, race or ethnic origins and it is an offence to incite racial disharmony.
Fiji is represented by all the major religion of the world. This is evidently clear to any visitor who will see Christian churches, Muslim mosques, Sikh and Hindu temples in towns and the countryside.