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Friday 19th April
Fiji Information - Page 2
Fiji may have been inhabited for as long as three and a half thousand years. It is thought that people migrated to the archipelago from Vanuatu and perhaps from the Solomon Islands.

Navigators such as Abel Tasman, James Cook and William Bligh knew of the islands but Europeans and Americans did not arrive until the early nineteenth century. Between 1860 and 1870 a number colonists settled in Levuka, the old capital of Fiji.

In 1874 Fiji was annexed by the United Kingdom; the British introduced indentured labour from India to work on the plantations. Independence was not achieved until almost a century later in 1970.

Fiji has one of the most highly developed economies of the Pacific islands. Services account for the largest percentage of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, many of the workers in the agricultural sector are subsistence farmers.

Agricultural products include bananas, coconuts, cassava, sweet potatoes and rice. Sugar is one of the largest exports. Livestock is reared. Fishing, especially the tuna catch, is an important industry.

Other industries are gold and silver mining, timber, sugar-milling, copra, clothing and footwear.

Tourism is an important earner of foreign currency. Remittances, money sent from Fijians overseas, are also a source of foreign exchange. (2011)

Traditional crafts include pottery, pandanus-leaf mats, woven baskets and tapa (cloth made from the beaten bark of a tree).

Music, dance and song are a feature of traditional ceremonies. Story telling has transmitted history and cultural values from generation to generation. A meke, a combination of dance, drama, song and stories, was performed at important social and religious events. Today, visitors to the islands are often welcomed with a meke.

The Fiji Museum houses a collection of archaeological material dating back over three and a half thousand years: cultural objects represent Fiji's indigenous inhabitants and other communities that have settled in the islands.

Rugby is a popular sport in Fiji; the national team plays successfully at international level.

Football is also played. Other sports include cricket, hockey, basketball, volleyball and netball. Fiji is the host for the 2007 World Netball Championships.

Wrestling, canoe racing and surfing are traditional sports.

All religious holidays are celebrated. Other days commemorated include National Youth Day (18 February) and Ratu Sukuna Day (29 May).

News is available from Newslink.

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