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Fiji Facts - Reprinted from www.gov.fj

Brief History

 

Fiji was first settled around 3,500 years ago. The original inhabitants are now called "Lapita people" after a distinctive type of fine pottery they produced, remnants of which have been found in practically all the islands of the Pacific and east of New Guinea, however not in eastern Polynesia. Unlike the islands of Polynesia which showed a continuous steadily evolving culture from initial occupation, Fiji appears to have undergone at least two periods of rapid culture change in prehistorical times.

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This may have been due to the arrival of fresh waves of immigrants, presumably from the west. Prehistorians have noted that a massive 12th century volcanic eruption in southern Vanuatu coincides with the disappearance thereof a certain pottery style and its sudden emergence in Fiji. It is hardly surprising that the Fijian culture is an intricate network and generalisations are fraught with danger. Although the legendary king of Bau, Naulivou and his successors had control over a large area of eastern Fiji, at no time before colonisation was Fiji a political unity. Nevertheless, Fiji does exhibit certain traits that sets it apart from its neighbours and this defines a distinctive Fijian culture.

 

Appointing Governance

The Bose Levu Vakaturaga (BLV) otherwise known as the Great Council of Chiefs,  is the highest assembly of the traditional chiefs of Fiji with a small number of specially qualified commoners, who meet at least annually to discuss matters of concern to the Fijian people. In earlier days this Council had the power to pass laws and regulations binding Fijians but this was removed towards the end of the colonial era when separate Fijian regulations were abolished. Despite this, the Council's advice is always sought on matters affecting the Fijian people and it continues to be held in high esteem by all communities in Fiji.

 

Cultural Clothing

 

Masi, also known as tapa, is bark cloth with black and rust-coloured printed designs. Masi played an important role in Fijian culture and its motifs had symbolic meaning and to a certain extent still do. It is used for special occasions - in 1996 the Tui Cakau wore masi ceremonial attire at his installation as paramount chief of the Cakaudrove region. Fijian masi is now commonly sought after by tourists and is used for postcards, wall hangings and other decorative items. Textile designers often incorporate traditional masi motifs in their designs.

 

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Fiji Islands Trade and Investment Bureau

The Investment Fiji, formerly known as the Fiji Trade & Investment Bureau (FITB) was formally created in 1980 under the Economic Development Board Act (EDB) Act No.11 of 1980 to “promote, stimulate and facilitate economic development in Fiji”. Investment Fiji is the marketing arm of the Government of Fiji. In line with the functions of Investment Fiji as stated in the Economic Development Act, Investment Fiji will continue to provide services and assistance to promote, facilitate and stimulate increased investment and exports. With the assistance from trade offices located in United States of America, Belgium, Japan, Malaysia, China, Indonesia, South Africa, Korea, New Zealand, New Delhi, United Kingdom, Taiwan, Australia and Papua New Guinea these commissions are to assist in increasing Fiji’s exports to these countries and attract investment into the country.

 

Diversification

Australia and New Zealand have continued to be Fiji's major trading partners however more recently Fiji has been actively pursuing trade links with countries in South-East Asia. Fiji is now re-examining its external trade policy and creating a new direction and emphasis intended to take advantage of the growth in the South-East Asian market. Foreign investment is encouraged in Fiji, particularly in joint ventures with local people and in the export oriented businesses.

 

Garment and Footwear Manufacture

Garment and footwear manufacture is a major contributor to the economy of Fiji generating tens of millions of dollars in export revenues each year. The garment industry grew rapidly after the introduction of the Tax-Free Factory/Tax Free Zone (TFF/TFZ)  scheme in  1987. At that time the garment industry made significant impact as a supplier of export commodities. Due to recent global economic conditions the garment industry has been affected to some extent however still serves as a major employer in the Fiji economy.

The export oriented garment industry was initially heavily reliant on preferential market access to Australia and New Zealand under the original SPARTECA arrangement. However, with the Australian and New Zealand economies becoming more closely integrated and tariffs being reduced, the level of preference in these markets has been eroded. This has forced change upon the sector which has embraced the challenge of becoming more competitive in established markets. To this end, the support offered by the Government of Australia under its industry training and productivity support program has been most welcome. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions About Fiji

What is the capital city of the Fiji Islands?

Suva is the national capital and is located on the south east side of Viti Levu, Fiji's main island.

What are the official languages of Fiji?

The are three official languages in Fiji - English, Fijian and Hindustani.

Are there poisonous land snakes in Fiji?

There are no poisonous snakes. There are several harmless varieties of indigenous snakes now confined to some outer islands.

What is Fiji's main source of income?

Fiji is a very popular tourist destination thus making tourism the main income earner for the country, followed by the sugar industry.

What religions are practiced in Fiji?

Indigenous Fijians are typically Christians. The local Indian Fijians are usually Hindus or Muslims, and the local Chinese also practice Buddhism.

What is the electricity voltage in Fiji?

Throughout Fiji it is 240 volts with AC/50 cycles. Australian and NZ electrical plugs are compatible with Fiji electrical sockets.

Is there Malaria in Fiji?

The Fijian Group of islands are free from malaria.

What is the life expectancy at birth in Fiji?

For males it is 66.1 years and for females it is 71.0 years.

What is the population?

The approximate population of the Fiji Islands as of 2009 is 900,000.

What time zone is Fiji located in?

GMT +12

What does the Fiji flag look like?

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When is the best time of the year to visit Fiji?

The peak tourist season in Fiji is from June to October. This is the winter season and the weather is dry and warm.

What is Fiji's international dialing code?

The international country dialling code for the Fiji Islands is +679.

What is the tallest building in the Fiji Islands?

Suva Central is Fiji's tallest building standing at 24.6 metres high.

What is the emergency phone number in Fiji?

911 is the number called to contact the Fiji's Emergency services.

How many islands in Fiji are inhabited?

Of the 320 islands 105 are inhabited.

 

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