Fiji has over 300 islands that are rather spread out. Its two main islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, host 87 per cent of the population.
Fiji was settled around 1000 BC, according to archaeological evidence. The Dutch explorer Abel Tasman visited Fiji in 1643, while looking for the Great Southern Continent. The other Europeans only came in the 19th century, the islands came under British rule in 1874. Fiji gained its independence in 1970.
Officially called the Republic of the Fiji Islands, it is located in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Vanuatu and West of Tonga.
With some 40 per cent of the total population of just under a million descended from the Indians who came to work the lucrative sugar cane fields in the 19th century, its no surprise that Fijians love their curries hot and spicy. Today, curry powders of all sorts can be found in Suva.
The tallest building in Fiji is the 14-storey Building in Suva, which opened in 1984.
Most indigenous Fijians are Christian (97.2 per cent), while the Indo-Fijians are mostly Hindu (70 per cent) and Muslim (17.9 per cent)
The national sport is considered to be rugby union, but rugby league is also widely played. Fiji competed at four Rugby World Cups and reached the quarter-finals twice. Famous sportsmen include golfer Vijay Singh, rugby sevens players Waisale Serevi and William Ryder and All Blacks players Sitiveni Sivivatu and Joe Rokocoko.
- Hink Huisman