Fiji is the product of volcanic mountains and warm tropical waters. Its majestic and ever-varied coral reefs today draw tourists from around the world. A land of tropical rainforests, coconut plantations, fine beaches, fire-cleared hills, Fiji is a popular travel destination.
Tropical marine; only slight seasonal temperature variation. Tropical cyclonic storms (the South Pacific version of hurricanes) can occur from November to January.
Mostly mountains of volcanic origin. Most of the interior of the main islands is trackless wilderness, though there are some roads and trails, and an amazing number of remote villages.
Fiji became independent in 1970, after nearly a century as a British colony. Democratic rule was interrupted by two military coups in 1987, caused by concern over a government perceived as dominated by the Indian community (descendants of contract laborers brought to the islands by the British in the 19th century). The coups and a 1990 constitution that cemented native Melanesian control of Fiji, led to heavy Indian emigration; the population loss resulted in economic difficulties, but ensured that Melanesians became the majority. A new constitution enacted in 1997 was more equitable. Free and peaceful elections in 1999 resulted in a government led by an Indo-Fijian, but a civilian-led coup in May 2000 ushered in a prolonged period of political turmoil. Parliamentary elections held in August 2001 provided Fiji with a democratically elected government led by Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.
Nadi International Airport is Fiji's main international airport. Suva airport also has some international flights. The only direct flight from the USA is from LAX.
Fiji has a variety of public transport options, including buses, "share taxis," and private taxis. Rates are very cheap. On the main road circling Viti Levu, buses run every half hour and taxis are a substantial proportion of traffic. Inter-island ferries are also reasonably priced.
English is spoken by most in Nadi and Suva and any other major tourist areas. On a few of the less touristy islands, English may be spoken with some difficulty. English is taught in grade school, while Fijian or Hindustani is spoken by most adults and children.
Expect to pay prices similar to those of Australia in tourist regions. Currency exchange is roughly $1 USD to 1.7 FDJ.
Locals eat in the cafes and small restaurants that are found in every town. The food is wholesome, cheap, and highly variable in quality. What you order from the menu is often better than what comes out of the glass display case. Most of these local joints serve Chinese food of some sort, along with Indian and sometimes Fiji-style fish, lamb, or pork dishes. Near the airport, a greater variety of food is found, including Japanese and Korean.
Local delicacies to try include:
A very popular drink in Fiji is Yaqona (Yang-go-na), also known as 'kava,' and sometimes referred to as 'grog' by locals. Kava is a peppery, earthy tasting drink made from the root of the pepper plant (piper methysticum). Its effects include a numbed tongue and lips (usually lasting only about 5-10 minutes) and relaxed muscles. Kava is mildly intoxicating, especially when consumed in large quantities or on a regular basis. Kava drinking in Fiji became popular during the fall of cannibalism, and originated as a way to resolve conflict and facilitate peaceful negotiations between villages.
Safety and Disease
Fiji is a relatively safe place. There is very little major crime at all. Most takes place in Suva and Nandi. Fijian culture encourages sharing and sometimes small things like shoes will be 'borrowed.' Often by speaking with the village chief, it can be arranged to get things returned.
Fiji is relatively free of disease compared to most of the tropics. However, be smart and cover up thoroughly or use insect repellents while outdoors at dawn or dusk. Local water is generally safe, though filtering or boiling is adviseable when unsure. Urban tap water is treated and nearly always safe.
Dress modestly and appropriately. While Fiji is a tropical country, beach-wear should be confined to the beach. Take your cues from the locals as to what they consider appropriate dress for the occasion. When visiting towns and villages, you should be sure to cover your shoulders and wear shorts or sulus (sarongs) that cover your knees.
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The above data is copied from wikitravel.org/en/fiji, last modified on 12 August 2006, and is based on work by Brian Alexander Lee, Ryan Holliday, Tim Sandell, Todd VerBeek, Derek M. Strout, Mike Serfas, Evan Prodromou and Yann Forget, Wikitravel user(s) Episteme, Ilkirk, Huttite, InterLangBot, WTVMike, Nzpcmad, Nils and CIAWorldFactbook2002 and Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel. Content is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 1.0. If you would like to view the original page or edit its content, feel free to visit wikitravel.org/en/fiji.
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