Rob Kay's Fiji Islands Travel Guide
Contains an informative overview of Fiji. Looking at the "facts" section of his page, you will find everything from maps and a description of Fijian geography to an abbreviated history to a rather detailed description of the native Fijian language.
Kay says the biggest reason to visit Fiji is the people. He describes a country with "intelligent, engaging people with a pristine environment, fine cuisine, and reasonably priced lodging, can one ask for much more?" Despite difficulties other Pacific island cultures have encountered, the native culture in Fiji "remains strong and resilient in the face of outside influence."
The first wave of settlers in Fiji arrived in approx. 1600 BC. So, the ensuing "waves" of Asian and Australian colonizers came through Fiji at numerous times. In 1874 Fiji became a British colony; one of the primary reasons Britain decided to adopt Fiji was their fear the United States would "claim" the islands first. In the late 19th century Indians were brought in to work in the sugar plantations of the British planters as indentured laborers since the governor decided the native population should not be forced into manual labor. Fortunately, the British were relatively benevolent to the natives, allowing them to own land, have economic privileges, and preserve their culture and system of chiefs. In 1970 Fiji was officially granted independence from Britain. However, the transition to independent government has not been easy-the local government has collapsed and a few coups have occurred since the British left the islands. Despite these difficulties, Fiji's current economy and government are stable and thriving.
Fijian culture is communal, and native Fijians own over 80% of the land. Hereditary chiefdoms were the traditional method of government, but the villages were very small and tight-knit. Among the native Fijians, Kava (a drink made from the pulverized root of the plant) drinking is a major social activity.
With the arrival of Europeans and missionaries, Methodism became the predominant Western religion, although other Protestant religions and Catholicism also have followings. Due to the importation of Indian labor, there is also a large Hindu and Muslim population.
Since Fiji was a British colony, English is the most commonly spoken language. However, the native Fiji dialect is a living language. It is an Austronesian or Malayo-Polynesian language related to languages found in such varied islands as Madagascar, Hawai'i, Rapanui, and Tonga! There is a detailed description and short bibliography available.
For a more commercial view of Fiji, try the FijiVillage. You can even get a free "@fijivillage.com" email address and send Fiji postcards.
The Republic of Fiji (Rotuma)
1.) Maps (this page also contains general "facts" about Fiji's
government and economy):
2.) Introducions to General Fiji:
Introduction to the island of Rotuman and its culture:
Finally, here is a site that contains an audio file (and the words) of
Fiji's national anthem:
This site has some beautiful pictures taken by Paddy Ryan, a native Fijian nature photographer!
The National Museum of Fiji has some links to art and photos of Fiji:
and an online exhibit of historic photographs:
And, Fiji's Visitors Bureau offers a slide show and video introduction
to the islands:
4.) Links to music and dance photos:
These are elusive, but here's a picture:
I also recommend the video from the "Bula" page as it shows
some dance and drumming with sound and action.
5.) Information on Fiji's music and dance:
This page offers the chance to buy a few CDs, even allowing you to listen!
Generally, it seems that there is a lot of information about Fiji on the net. Especially with culture, the people, and the politics. Unfortunately, the resources available for music and dance on the web were scant. I have been unable to make a huge find (as of yet) of information on the net, but it may be out there still. I have only delved into a small portion of the materials and left many links unexplored. Perhaps there is more on that aspect of the culture. It seems that, in general, the culture is alive so there is obviously something.
-- Jesse Johnson
Rotuman Music and Dance.
There is a good written description of dance by anthropologist Alan Howarc, and instruments and photos attached for specific dances. Adapted from the author's entry in The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, vol. 9. Australia and the Pacific Islands.
Hereniko [Tausie], Vilsoni. "Dance as a Reflection of Rotuman Culture,"
in Fatiaki et al., Rotuma: Hanue Pumua (Precious Land). Suva: Institute
of Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific, 1991.