Let the Countdown Begin! Fun Facts about Fiji

About a year ago, I moved into my current apartment and met my to-be (and now former) roommate, who was born and raised in Fiji. Before I even moved in, he and his friends invited me over to drink kava (more on that later) as he shared videos, music, and information about his homeland. Fiji sounds like a paradise, but it had always been a distant, overlooked travel destination in my mind until that night, when I was blown away by Fiji, and the island nation jumped toward the top of my bucket list.

I mean, how could it not be? (photo credit)

I mean, how could it not be? (photo credit)

So it was just my luck that when booking flights home to California for Christmas, the least expensive ones were on Fiji Airways with a layover in Nadi, on Fiji’s main island. I quickly determined that I would be able to extend that layover from a few hours to a few days, and, thus, I went from thinking I wouldn’t be able to squeeze in any new destinations for a while to planning an absolutely alluring trip to the South Pacific.

With just over two months to go until my arrival, I got in touch with Tourism Fiji to learn more about my trip ahead, and they sent back lots of interesting information about their country. Thanks to their info, plus a little Wikipedia research, here are a few fun facts about Fiji:

  • Fiji is made up of over 332 islands, with only 110 permanently inhabited, plus more than 500 islets.
  • The country is called “Viti” in the Fijian language, but Tongans referred to it as “Fisi”, and Captain James Cook anglicized that pronunciation, giving it its modern English name.
  • The original Fijians, known as the “Lapita people” after their characteristic pottery, arrived in the islands about 3500 years ago.
  • Fiji is culturally diverse, playing host to a variety of races and religions, with the majority of Fijians being Wesleyan.
  • Fiji’s national drink is called kava and is made from the root of a pepper plant and drunk from coconut shell cups. Supposedly, it numbs your muscles, although when my former roommate offered it to me, I was too surprised by its bitter taste to drink enough to experience numbness. I may have to give it another go on my trip, especially because I just learned it’s bad manners to refuse a bowl.
  • Fiji’s official languages are English, Fijian, and Fiji Hindi. (I now feel pretty ignorant for being so impressed by my former Fijian roommate’s English skills, thinking it wasn’t his native language!)
  • 10% of Fiji’s 476 indigenous plants are endemic (in other words, found nowhere else in the world).
  • Fiji’s traditional dance is called meke and looks pretty amazing:

  • Fiji gained independence from the British in 1970. This was followed by several military coups and new constitutions. They held their first democratic elections very recently, on September 17th of this year.
  • The key phrase to know in Fiji is “bula,” kind of like Hawaii’s “aloha” in that it can mean anything from hello to cheers to welcome to bless you.

I’m enamored already! See you in a few months, Fiji!

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