Fiji is one of the youngest states on our planet. The former colony of Great Britain gained independence in 1970, becoming a state within the Commonwealth. In 1987, after a military coup, Fiji was expelled from the Commonwealth, and this island country was taken back in 1997. Currently, the full name of the state sounds like this - the Republic of the Fiji Islands.
12 interesting facts about Fiji
- The country is located on islands of volcanic and coral origin. The total number of islands is 332, but about 100 are inhabited. The territory of the state of Fiji is more than 18, 000 square kilometers, and the population is just under one million people. Half of the inhabitants are indigenous to the archipelago, and about a third are Indians. Most of Fiji's citizens are Christians.
- The island of Tavenui, part of the Fiji archipelago, is famous for its date line. There is even a place on the island where one foot can be in today, and the other in tomorrow. Tavenui is the third largest island in Fiji. It is also called the "Garden Island", because of the rich flora and abundance of birds, many of which are endemic to the Fiji Islands. That is, it is impossible to meet them outside the archipelago.
- Modern Fijians are very friendly. But it was not always so. For example, back in the 19th century, cannibalism was common here. One of the victims was the European missionary Thomas Baker, who risked coming here in 1867. From the unfortunate Thomas, only one shoe remained, which is now kept as an exhibit in a local exhibit. Cannibalism was ended after the adoption of Christianity by the islanders.
- The Fiji Archipelago was discovered by a famous Dutch navigator in the forties of the seventeenth century. But the first European settlers appeared here only at the turn of the 18th-19th centuries. At first they were merchants, sailors from ships that were wrecked, and in 1835 missionaries appeared in Fiji. Now the country has three official languages - English, Fijian and Hindustani.
- The largest island in the archipelago is Viti Levu, with an area of over 10, 000 square kilometers. More than half of all Fijians live here. The two largest cities in the country are also located here - Suva (the capital of Fiji) and Nadi. Translated from the local language, Vitu Levu means "Big Island".
- In Fiji, not everyone is allowed to wear hats and sunglasses. This is the privilege of the tribal leaders. Therefore, glasses and a hat on a common person can be perceived as a terrible insult. The Europeans were also surprised by the ritual appeal of a commoner to the leader: "Eat me!" Affected by the echoes of cannibalism, widespread here earlier.
- But the British colonialists instilled in the Fijians a love of football and rugby. True, in football, local athletes have not reached great heights, but the Fiji rugby team is traditionally among the strongest in the world. Interesting fact: with a population of 950, 000, there are about 120, 000 registered rugby players. Most men in Fiji are tall and well built.
- Fijian athletes have taken part in the Summer Olympics 14 times and even 3 times in the Winter Olympics. But, only one medal was won, and, moreover, a gold one. It happened in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, where the Fijians were the strongest in the rugby sevens tournament. The largest delegation from Fiji was represented at the Games in Rio de Janeiro - 53 people. But at the Winter Olympics, more than one athlete has never been announced.
- The national currency of the country is the Fiji dollar. Despite the fact that the state gained independence half a century ago, the image of the Queen of England is preserved on local coins and banknotes. Some islanders are demanding to remove the portrait of Elizabeth II from banknotes, but the tribute to tradition is still stronger.
- Two airports in the archipelago serve international airlines. There are also several local airlines. But the railway transport is not developed here, the total length of narrow-gauge railways is only 597 kilometers, but they do not serve passengers, but belong to one of the large sugar companies.
- At the end of the 19th century, Fiji experienced the "Gold Rush", deposits of the precious metal were discovered on the Nasivi River. This allowed foreign companies to invest in the Fiji economy. Today, only one mine has survived in the Vatukoula area, where gold continues to be mined.
- Although there are rivers and lakes on the Fiji Islands, the problem of fresh water is quite pressing. To replenish its supplies, during the rainy season, large containers have to be installed in which rainwater is collected. The rainy season here lasts from November to April.