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Ancient pottery art discovered on the islands of Fiji show that human activity existed in the region somewhere between 3500 to 1000 BC. The Lapita people is said to have settled on the islands before the Melanesians came.
Abel Tasman is credited for being the first European to sail past the islands in 1643. His descriptions of treacherous reef systems discouraged other mariners from going to the islands for over 130 years.
English navigator Captain James Cook asked the Tongan people what the islands on their west were called and known as Viti at the time, it was pronounced as "Feegee," and the islands were then known in Europe as the islands of Fiji.
In 1830, groups of Christian missionaries from the London Missionary Society and the Wesleyan Methodist Church arrived on the islands with the purpose of converting the locals and to preach against cannibalism. The locals resisted at first but conversion to Christianity was then slowly adopted, which included the island Chief Cakobau. With the success of the missionaries, the Methodist church sent Reverend Thomas Baker to convert other villagers on the island, but an unfortunate incident involving a village chief led to his killing and his body was eventually eaten by the villagers. This was the last recorded act of cannibalism on the islands.
Once Christianity was embraced by the locals, cannibalism ended.
In 1874. the islands became a British crown colony in response to Chief Cakobau's request. By 1970, Fiji became free and independent of British rule.
Fiji is located in the South Pacific Ocean, about 2/3 of the way between New Zealand and Hawaii. The islands around it are Tonga to the east, Vanuatu to the west, New Zealand's Kermadec Islands to the southeast, New Caledonia to the southwest, Tuvalu to the north, and the Samoan Islands to the northeast.
Fiji is an archipelago with 332 islands and 500 islets. 110 of the islands are permanently inhabited, with the major islands of Viti Lebu and Vanua Levu comprising 87% of the population.
Fiji is a parliamentary representative democratic republic. The Prime Minister is Head of Government, while the President is Head of State. The Prime Minister nominates the President, who is then elected by the Parliament. The President serves a 3-year term and performs mainly honorary duties, and also acts as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.
Executive power is vested on the government and Legislative power is exercised by the government and the Parliament. Parliament consists of 2 houses: the 71-member House of Representatives, and the 32 member Upper Chamber Senate.
Fiji is a popular tourist destination, mainly for honeymooners and those who are looking to have a family vacation. 75% of travelers who go to the islands are there for a holiday or a vacation. Filled with picture-perfect islands and white sand beaches, Fiji has a world renowned reputation for having some of the best beaches in the world.
Nadi is the most popular location in Fiji, and has the country's international airport. Everyone who goes to Fiji set foot on Nadi, and it's popular for being an urban center and being the main hub of international travelers.
Mamanuca Islands is a group of 20 islands famous for being a well-established resort area. Surf breaks are world renowned, and its beaches and lagoons offer some of the best in the country.
Denarau is a private island filled with hotel chains that offer luxury accommodation.
The Coral Coast is an 80km stretch of beaches and bays famous for its full resorts and easy access to local villages.
Other places of interest include the Kula Eco Park and the Sigatoka Sand Dunes.
Primary education in Fiji is free for the first 8 years. Schools are either funded by the government, by churches, or by provinces.
The next education level is the Vocational Secondary Education consisting of the 9th to 12th years, and programs include carpentry, metalwork, woodwork, agriculture, and home economics. Tertiary education or higher education in Fiji consists of shorter diploma courses, teacher training colleges and other institutions that focus on medicine and agriculture.
- The Queen of England's image are printed on Fiji's banknotes and coins.
- English is Fiji's official language.
- Reverend Thomas Baker's shoes that show teeth marks can be found in the Fiji Museum, providing evidence of the country's common practice of cannibalism before the 19th century.
- If tourists visit the villages, it must be remembered that only the village chief can wear hats and sunglasses.
Last Updated : December 02, 2014