The Republic of Fiji is the economic and tourist hub of the South Pacific islands, which offers a warm and inviting climate, untold numbers of clean white sandy beaches, hundreds of pristine coral reefs covered in crystal clear water, unspoilt mountain ranges covered in tropical rainforest, and more activities than you can imagine!! All this, and an interesting culture, with happy and friendly Fijians who are always ready with a smile and a greeting. Bula!!
Comprised of 322 islands, with only 106 permanently inhabited, the population of 850,000 (2009 estimated) live mainly on the two large islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. Viti Levu is called the ‘Gateway to Fiji’ as it is home to the capital Suva, and the international airport at Nadi, through which the majority of visitors arrive.
Located in the central west of the South Pacific Ocean, the islands range from tiny coral cays surrounded by white coral sands, such as are within the Mamanuca Islands, to picturesque, rugged volcanic islands, covered in tropical vegetation, which comprise most of the Yasawa Islands. The two larger islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu are rugged and mountainous, with coastal farming and forested interiors. It is on these two large islands that the main economic activity occurs, with the smaller islands to the west being the main tourist destinations.
Generally the eastern sides of the islands receive higher rainfall, and this has benefited the western areas of Viti Levu and the island groups of the Mamanucas and the Yaswas, by providing a drier and sunnier environment for tourism. Most of the islands are within close proximity of coral reefs, which offer good snorkelling and diving, some with good surfing, but all are surrounded by the crystal clear green/blue waters of the tropical South Pacific.
The Fijian culture is a mix of Melanesian, Polynesian, Indian and Chinese, with a small number of Europeans. English is widely spoken, and the friendly and helpful nature of the people is a great bonus for visitors. All of the smaller islands retain many Fijian traditions, still performing sevu sevu, the welcoming ceremony in which kava is drunk, building traditional thatched roofed houses, and surviving on subsistence farming and fishing. This makes Fiji a relaxing, close to nature, easy place to enjoy, with a warm climate, fantastic snorkelling, diving, fishing and sailing, the area has appeal for every age and every budget.