Fiji Birding Tours
The Republic of Fiji (“Fiji” hereafter) is an archipelagic country in Melanesia, part of Oceania in the South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago stretches across 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) from east to west and consists of approximately 330 islands and 500 islets (not all inhabited). Fiji is situated approximately 1,957 miles (3,150 kilometers) east of Australia, 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) to the east of Grande Terre, New Caledonia and 1,300 miles (2,000 kilometers) northeast of New Zealand. The most populous (and largest) Fijian islands are Viti Levu, home to the capital city Suva in the southeast and another major city Nadi in the west, and the island Vanua Levu. Much of the area of many of the islands are uninhabitable due to their mountainous nature.
The majority of Fiji’s islands formed through volcanic activity commencing around 150 million years ago. Humans have resided in Fiji for many thousands of years, firstly Austronesians (including Lapita people) before or around 3500 to 1000 BC, and about one thousand years later Melanesians, with some Polynesian influences. Abel Tasman, the Dutch explorer (who was the first to discover New Zealand in 1642), was the first known European visitor to Fiji (the northern islands) in 1643. In 1774 Captain James Cook, the British explorer, discovered the southern islands (in the same year he also discovered New Caledonia). It was however, not until Captain William Bligh (of the famous “Mutiny on the Bounty”) arrived in 1789 that the islands were charted and plotted, for a brief time the islands carried his name, the Bligh Islands. Now the strait between Viti Levu and Vanua Levu are named after him: Bligh Water. Britain established the Colony of Fiji in 1874 until it gained independence in 1970 as the Dominion of Fiji. In 1987 it became the Republic of Fiji. A large Indian population exists on the islands due to indentured laborers brought over from India to work in the sugarcane plantations.