The Republic of the Fiji Islands is made up of approximately 330 tiny islands, of which around 100 are inhabited. Located in the heart of the Pacific Ocean, Fiji is north of New Zealand and northwest of Australia. Fiji covers about 1.3 million square kilometers of the South Pacific Ocean. Fiji’s total land area is 18,333 square kilometers. There are two major islands: Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. The capital is Suva, located on Viti Levu (often just referred to as Fiji).
Fiji was first settled about three-and-a-half thousand years ago. The original inhabitants are called “Lapita people” after a distinctive type of pottery found in archeological sites. The term Lapita was coined by archaeologists after mishearing the word xapeta’a in the local Haveke language (the Kanak people of New Caledonia). The word in the Indigenous language means “to dig a hole” or “the place where one digs.” Some Fijians use the term iTaukei to refer to themselves.
Indigenous Fijians are represented in goverment by their traditional chiefs. They sit together on the Bose Levu Vakaturaga (BLV), a council that meets at least once a year to discuss matters of concern. English is the official language. Fijian and Hindi are taught in schools. Indigenous Fijians have their own dialects, distinctive to each province.
Did you know Fijian carvers steamed a canoe on site at MOA? Look for the video and photographs documenting the process on the Making section.