A Little About Fiji

Fiji is an island nation in the South Pacific, due about 2,000 km (1,250 m) north of New Zealand and roughly the same east of Australia. It is composed of two large islands (Viti Levu and Vanua Levu) and a number of smaller ones scattered nearby. The capital, Suva, is in a metropolitan area which is inhabited by 300,000 Fijians, of a nationwide population of around 860,00.

The Fijian language is very cool, and is actually a conglomerate of languages spoken across the islands, whom are all part of the wider Austronesian group of languages. Fijian includes languages such as Gone Dau, spoken by only around 700 Fijians. Standard Fijian  is largely consonant-vowel-consonant, and reminds me somewhat of Swahili, with a few sounds we don’t hear in English – bula is pronounced mbula, oqo is ongo, colo is tholo, and sega is sengya. 

Fiji is roughly 2/3 “indigenous” Fijian – the other third are Indo-Fijians, Indian-descended Fijians who mostly speak a localized dialect of Hindi. It is a typical story of colonial forced migration – the British took Indians to work as indentured servitude in many colonies (including across the East African states of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania). They are often successful in business in postcolonial states, including Fiji.

Politics have been both racialized and militarized in the decades since independence. Power struggles between Indo-Fijian politicians and indigenous Fijian politicians have kept the democratic process fractured. The military has thus asserted itself occasionally, most recently in 2006 – but that government, run by Frank Bainimarama, has legitimized itself (in the eyes of it’s supporters and the West) by winning elections in mid-October 2014.

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