By Samantha Evans | 24th October, 2018
Updated on 20th May, 2024

With its pristine waters and white sandy beaches, Fiji is an ideal destination for volunteers wanting to soak up some sunshine and 'island life' in a balmy, tropical location.

Known for its stunning natural beauty, rich cultural diversity, and friendly people, it's also a world leader in ecotourism.

Made up of hundreds of islands, over 90% of Fijian territory is water. These are home to almost four percent of all of the world’s coral reefs and are inhabited by over 1,500 species of marine life.

It was only natural that we chose this paradise for the location of our Shark Conservation Project. Our staff and participants in Fiji are always telling us such wonderful things about this beautiful archipelago, so we decided to share some of our favourite facts with you.

1. Fiji is made up of 333 islands, but just 110 are inhabited. Two of those islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, are home to around 87 per cent of the total population, which stands at about 900,000. 

2. For a cool few million you too can have your own slice of paradise. In 2005 Mel Gibson purchased Mago Island for $15m.

3. These days around 40% of the Fijian population are of Indian descent. Fiji was colonised by the British between 1874 and 1970. Between 1879 and 1916 they gave 600,000 Indians free passage to Fiji in exchange for work on the sugarcane plantations. The official languages of Fiji are English, Fijian, and Fijian Hindi. 

4. For the fashion conscious please bear in mind that unless you are the chief, wearing a hat and sunglasses in a Fijian village is a big no-no.

5. Cannibalism was once common practice among Fijians. Fear not though - thanks to King Ratu Cakobau, this ended in 1871 when he encouraged his people to stop eating other humans.

6. If you ever have a hankering for boiled bat then Fiji has you covered. This delicacy together with raw fish and various roots are often eaten by locals. Certain other dishes are wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in an underground oven or a ‘lovo’.

7. Speaking of roots, the root of the yaqona bush is ground up and strained with water to make Fiji’s traditional drink, kava.

8. Incredibly confusing to most westerners, many Fijians raise their eyebrows as a non-verbal way to say “yes”.

9. Strange but true, it is possible to be in two different time zones at the same time when on the island of Taveuni due to the fact that Fiji is spread across the international dateline. 

10. If you’re looking to book a flight to Fiji then this one might be worth checking – although Fiji has 28 airports, only 4 of them have paved runways.

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