Fiji, gorgeous beaches and… water? That seems to be the extent of most peoples knowledge of this set of islands in the South Pacific (mine included before accepting my service as a PCV). So I wanted to set up this page to give a brief history of Fiji and some interesting facts that might help everyone understand this place a bit better.
First of all, Fiji is actually an island nation composed of 332 smaller islands located approximately 1,300 miles northeast of New Zealand’s North Island. There are four main islands in Fiji: Viti Levu, Vanua Levu, Kadavu, and Taveuni. Suva is the capital and largest city located on Viti Levu and is where my pre-service training (PST) will take place for the first 7 weeks (May 17-July 8). The population of Fiji is approximately 57% indigenous Fijians and 37% Indo-Fijians and this cultural dynamic explains many aspects of Fijian culture and life, including the presence of two dominant languages; Fijian and Hindi. Fiji has had a rough recent political past with the most recent military coup occurring in 2006. Fiji’s economy is based largely on tourism but garment manufacturing, gold mining, timber, commercial fishing, kava farming, coconut harvesting, and other agro-based products also contribute significantly to their economy.
The weather patterns in Fiji are varied because of its large area and steep elevation changes, but generally speaking the cold, “dry” season is from May to October and the warm, “wet” season is from November to April. Fiji typically experiences one cyclone a year. Weather updates can be found here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/weather/forecast/1978 .
My projected job description is to “assist Fijian community members to sustain their natural resources and improve their livelihoods through increased environmental awareness and skills transfer to the local community, project objectives include: marine and terrestrial resource management; waste, water, and sanitation awareness and promotion; home composting and gardening; and environmentally sustainable business development”. My job is within the Environmental Resource Management sector of the Peace Corps, and I won’t really know what my job will be until I get to my actual village in July and settle in there for a while.