Capital | Suva
Population | 883,125 (July 2011 est.)
Area | 18,270 SQ KM
Official Language | English
Holidays | Independence Day, second Monday of October (1970)
Currency | Dollar (FJD)
Time Zone | UTC +12
Best Time to Visit | May to October, during the ‘Fijian winter’ when humidity and rainfall are lower
Connecting with the Culture | Exploring Suva’s waterfront and market, with its exotic fruits and vegetables, seafood, and spices. Snorkeling and diving in Fiji’s extraordinary crystal blue reefs. Experiencing the warmth and hospitality of Fiji’s multiethnic inhabitants. Surfing the fantastic breaks of the southern Mamanucas. Admiring traditional bure (thatched dwelling) architecture in the highlands. Swimming through the dark chambers of the Sawa-i-Lau caves in the Yasawa group of islands.
Read | Fiji’s most popular coffee-table book, Children of the Sun, with photos by Glen Craig and poetry by Bryan McDonald.
Listen | to the guitar-strumming, crooning songs from Bula Fiji Bula: Music of the Fiji Islands.
Watch | Tom Hanks playing the modern-day Robinson Crusoe in Cast Away, featuring Monuriki Island.
Eat | traditional Fijian foods including tavioka (cassava) and dalo (taro) roots, and seafood in lolo (coconut cream).
Drink | cloudy bowl of lip-numbing yaqona (also knon as kava), a ritualistic drink prepared from the aromatic roots of the Pacific pepper shrub, originally drunk in honor of ancestors.
In a Word | Bula (hello)
Characteristics | Surfers seeking the big break; honeymooners’ paradise; grass skirts; Blue Lagoon; endless bowls of yaqona; hammocks; woven baskets; white-sand beaches.
Surprises | Over 300 islands comprise Fiji’s archipelago, and about two-thirds are uninhabited; boiled beka (bat) was once a popular indigenous Fijian dish.
NEWS ABOUT FIJI
Kiribati Considers Buying Land in Fiji
(HN, 4/11/12) - The Kiribati government says at the next sitting of parliament it will propose buying a block of land in Fiji for business & investment opportunities. Radio Kiribati reports the President Anote Tong as saying his government needs the approval of parliament to go ahead with the land transaction which would allow the nation to buy the 2,200-hectare Natoavatu Estate in Vanua Levu, Fiji.
Mr. Tong says the area is fertile & could support many profit-generating projects but that at this stage there are no plans to use the land to resettle people affected by climate change. Kiribati is situated in Oceania; made up of 33 coral atolls in the Pacific Ocean, straddling the Equator about half way between Hawaii & Australia. Kiribati is 1 of the world's poorest countries with few natural resources. Copra & fish represent the bulk of production & exports with tourism providing more than 1/5 of GDP. (Read more at RNZ)
Aid Reaches Fiji Victims After `50 year Floods'
(HN, 3/25/12) - At least 5 people are dead after a week of heavy rains & severe flooding hammered the Pacific island nation of Fiji. As many as 11,000 people on Fiji's main island of Viti Levu were forced from their homes into evacuation shelters to escape the impact of Tropical Cyclone Daphne as it passed by the island, days after floods began, damaging roads, hospitals, schools & crops, leaving thousands of residents without power. Health authorities in the Western Division fear that overcrowding & unsanitary conditions in shelters could lead to an outbreak of communicable diseases such as Dengue Fever & Cholera. Airlines canceled flights in & out of Fiji over the weekend, leaving thousands of tourists temporarily stranded; tho the national airline Air Pacific resumed inbound international flights to Nadi airport Tuesday.
The Australian government has pledged $1 million to help with relief efforts, while New Zealand promised to donate more than $400,000. Survivors said they could not save anything as water rose in their homes, leaving many areas looking like `war zones', & most without power or drinking water. A 15-day state of emergency has been declared in Fiji's west coast areas, & a flood watch is currently in place as more rains are expected to hit the country. "These types of events are likely to continue to occur," said Angelika Planitz, sub-regional coordinator for the Pacific of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, UNISDR. A recent paper by UNISDR & the UNDP warned that western Fiji is vulnerable to high-intensity, more frequent floods as climate change continues. Fiji underwent a coup in 2006 (its 4th in 2 decades) when current Prime Minister, military strongman Frank Bainimarama seized power. (Read more at the Fiji Times)