9 Surprising Fiji Facts

I’m back!

I went to Fiji not really knowing what to expect, besides plenty of beaches and palm trees. I’d never read much about Fiji, or seen a lot of pictures, I had no idea what made it different from anywhere else in the South Pacific.

Well, this country surprised me in a big way. Not only was it incredibly beautiful, it has a lot of unique quirks that make it so much more than just a beach. I’m going to write plenty of detailed articles later on, but I thought I’d start with a short primer on some of the more surprising things that you probably never knew about Fiji:

1. It’s Made Up of a LOT of Tiny Islands

332 to be exact, not include over 500 tiny islets. These are spread out over 7000 square miles, making Fiji bigger than you’d think. It becomes slightly less daunting when you realize that only 110 islands are inhabitable and 87% of the population lives on the two biggest islands Viti Levu and Vanua Levu.

The hideout of the last cannibals was around here

2. They Kind of Used to be Cannibals

Let’s just get that one out of the way right now. It’s 100% true that prior to the 19th century the Fijians practiced human sacrifices as well as cannibalism. According to the Great Wikipedia:

The bodies of enemies slain in battle, or in sacrifice, were piled up and cooked for festivals, such as the installation of chiefs or the launching of a great canoe.

The last man to be cannibalized in Fiji was the Reverend Thomas Baker in 1867. His partially consumed shoes can still be seen in the National Museum. The tribe apologized to the Reverends family in 2003.

Of course once Christianity spread, the practice was abandoned. Fijians are literally some of the nicest, most friendly people I have met anywhere on earth. They stick to fish now.

3. Village Culture is Still the Way of Life

While there are a handful of small cities, most native Fijians still lead a life centered around their village. Community is very important to their culture, and most wealth and resources are divided among the residents of a village. Even most of the resort staff I got to know all go home to their villages in the evening.

Some areas are very poor, without electricity or running water, and some are doing quite a bit better, but the community spirit can be seen everywhere.

Rafters and Rugby Players

4. Literally Everyone Speaks English

This one might surprise you, until you consider the fact that Fiji was an English colony for over a century, up until 1970. All children are taught English starting from first grade, in addition to standard Fijian AND their local dialect (and sometimes Hindi or Chinese as well!).

Other imports from the English include Christianity, fish and chips and a deep passion for rugby.

Ronal, our Indo-Fijian driver

5. Fiji is Pretty Diverse

Ethnic Fijians comprise only 54% of the country’s population. Really. One of the most surprising things I learned about Fiji is that it has a huge Indian population. Brought over as indentured servants by the British in the 1800’s, their descendants make up nearly 40% of the population. This means it’s really easy to find a good samosa.

There are also white Fijians and even Chinese Fijians who have been in the country for generations.

6. The Bottled Water Thing is Real

It really does come from Fiji! In the United States, Fiji Water is one of the priciest, classiest and, well most wasteful water brands. In Fiji they hand it out like candy.

Hotel Farm

7. They are Big on Sustainability

It might be because they live on small islands with limited resources, but Fiji is incredibly conscious about sustainable tourism practices. The villages of course, are almost completely self-sustaining. Many of the resorts also strive for self-sufficiency and many of the tour companies practice responsible tourism. Basically, unlike Thailand or some other places, you don’t have to feel like crap for being a tourist here.

 8. It’s Not Just a Luxury Destination.

Yes Fiji is full of really beautiful luxury resorts (and I saw some great ones) but that’s not the only way to experience lovely Fiji. There are a lot of reasonable, and even budget resorts, hotels and hostels, and I saw quite a few backpackers headed out to the islands.

9. It’s Gorgeous

Well maybe you knew that, but it’s still so true!

So there’s your primer… stay tuned for more!


Special thanks to Tourism Fiji for inviting us to Fiji and covering our stay.

All opinions are my own.

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51 thoughts on “9 Surprising Fiji Facts”

  1. Fiji is now an annual pilgrimage for me, and NOT just for surfing. It is one of the easiest long trips one will ever make from the States. It has a great climate year round. I feel welcome and safe there. The Fijiians are just a sweet bunch of folks who welcome you with open arms. And it is for REAL…. I’m leaving on Tuesday and May not come home!

  2. People seem interested to learn that Fiji can be a relatively cheap place, for those on a tight budget. I know of a hotel in central Nadi that has dorm beds for fj$10 a night… that’s about US$6. So if you stay out of the resorts, then you can live and travel quite cheaply.

    When travelling around, local buses are cheap too, Nadi to Suva (about 120 miles) will cost fj$16, maybe 5-6 bucks more on the air conditioned express buses. And you can eat cheaply as well… if you like fruit then Mangos are a few cents each in season, bananas and coconuts, pawpaws.

    If you hang around the toursim areas of Voral Coast, Yasawa and Mamanuca islands, then prices are high, even for a dorm bed. But get off the beaten trail and you pay “local prices”.

    1. Dear Ms. Raffaella,
      We all desires some types of fantastic dream-trips. I’d like you not to remove Fiji on your dream list. For all the dark clouds in the sky, bright silver lining always exists on another side. Your dreams come true soon!
      Il-song Park, Phd.

  3. Bula everyone,i was reading all your beutiful comments and dreams of one day going to my little island of fiji.Yes we are very friendly and yes fijian people likes to walk walk walk……lol……that is so true rachel.if we don’t have any money for bus fare will g get to our destination by foot . We have to have big signs that saying “BECAREFUL FIJIANS WILL BE CROSSING ANY TIME”…….LOL…..We have mosquitoes it drives me crazy sometimes,when i go back home and got bitten by mosquites i know ok im in fiji……yay……..!!You beautiful people that haven’t been to fiji you definately have to go and experience it on your own to feel and to see the beauty of Fiji.

  4. wow i just came back from fiji I felt very out of my comfort zone but still enjoyed the experience!!!!!!!!!!! alot of things seemed very funny to me I never thought i would see alot of the things i did, like no fences and cows just tied up with a rope by the road, instead of fast food places apart from macdonalds barbiquse cooked on the side of the road, busses all bellowing black smoke, lol they must run them till they dont go anymore. there are plenty of misquetoes round too. Most of the people were very polite greeting everybody Bula, but it was great they could understand english too. Some places we were told not to go by our hotel,because of robbers. we stayed at a budget hotel but it was very adiquite with air conditioning we needed that , and a fan too, clean sheets every day and fresh towels too and an onsuite and an on site restraunt, this was a blue package with virgin pacific.we had a europe car which i wasnt sure if it would make the distance but we drove round the whole island which actually took us alot longer than expeted because it is a very big island. 2 weeks before we were there they had a terible cyclone and alot of damage occured so that meant we couldnt go to alot of places we intended too we went up the nuvua river to a tribal village had lunch and a kava ceromny and met the locals and observed thier customs and tried their food which was cooked in the ground the food was actually really beautiful.and we bought their local handicrafts which were very well made. I would certinly recomend that trip. We also went on the latest of trips just added called salava with stork cruises and the crew all sang and we had a sing along with them that was a fun day.barbicue lunch, snorkeling or diving, glass bottom boat the sea water was really warm i can write some more if anyone is interested this is Jan 7 to 13 2013 im talking about this was supposed to be the rainy season but we only got the odd shower.One very interesting thing was seeing a fijian man climb up the coconut tree and get a coconut down cut it and give us the fresh cocnut milk and then cut the top of another cocnut to make a little spoon so we could scoop the flesh of the coconut out , it was so fresh ive never tasted such a nice cocnut!!!!!!!!! Also I obsbserved quite a few albeno fijians, that was an unusual thing to meet them they look like white people but with fijian features. i talked to one he had to work at night because the sun affected him to much. They dont have many rules there they all bundle into back of utes for transport not many seat belts are used and the pot holes they even warn you about.!!!!!!!!!!!! you have to be very carful at night because all these fijians walk walk walk any time of the day or night they walk on the road side and they just cross the road in frount of you too,

  5. hi everyone I am from Fiji. some other facts to know is that the sun rises in Fiji yeah no joke. that means we are the first to greet the 21st century. also Anaconda part 2 was shot here. and its home to the 3rd largest reef in the world.

  6. You’re correct – I did not know most of these facts about Fiji! But I’ve only had one friend visit and the only facts I got out her was “ITS AMAZING”. Its good to have a more diverse range of facts. I look forward to reading more about your Fiji adventures!

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