Fiji consists of more than 332 islands, of which around 110 are inhabited. The capital city, Suva, is situated on the largest island, Viti Levu. Fiji gained independence in 1970 after having been a British colony for almost a hundred years – History of Fiji. The population of Fiji is around 850,000 and comprises of approximately 55% Native Fijians, 37% Indo-Fijians, and 8% other ethnic groups (European, Philippines etc). The two largest groups, Fijian and Indo-Fijian, are very diverse in culture and religion.
All Fijian people are very hospitable and will do all they can to make you welcome in their village or home. Guests and the men usually eat first, then the women. Dining tables and chairs are not normally found in Fijian village homes – Fijian Culture; you sit on the floor on mats with the food spread out before you. Indo-Fijian houses are more similar to Western style and often have chairs and dining tables – Indo-Fijians. If you are offered some food or drink, take what you want, but try to be sensitive by taking a little of most things.
Fiji’s climate is mostly tropical throughout the year. The wet season is from November to April, with the heaviest rains from December to mid-April and the dry season from May to October. Fiji has temperatures from 28°C – 34°C during summer with high humidity. The coolest months of July and August are low humidity, 17°C – 26°C. Higher altitude areas can go as low as 14°C at night.
A multi-racial, multi-cultural nation, Fiji is represented by all the major religions of the world. This is quickly obvious to the visitor who will see Christian churches, Mosques, Sikh and Hindu temples in towns and the countryside. More than half of Fiji’s population are Christians (52.9%), with Hindus (38.1%), Muslim (7.8%), Sikhs (0.7%) and Others (0.5%).
Both Indo-Fijians and ethnic Fijians have strong beliefs and adhere to their particular religion. There are many Christian denominations, of which the Methodist church is the largest. Christianity is multi generational, and most Fijians profess to be “Christian”. The majority of Indo-Fijians are of Hindu or Muslim faith. Many Fijian villages will have only one main religious denomination, which most villagers will attend.
Race relations in Fiji are generally harmonious. The Compact provision in the Constitution requires that full account are to be taken of the interests of all communities. It is unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of colour, race or ethnic origins and it is an offence to incite racial disharmony.
Health & Immunisation
Fiji is generally regarded as a “safe” country, with no venomous snakes, poisonous spiders, or malaria. However, other more common health issues associated with poor sanitation and hygiene are widespread, especially in the outer islands and remote interior villages where we work most – Current Needs. Prevention of contamination and cross infection is the key, and for all of our outreaches we strive to prevent any of our team members becoming ill.
Please see and discuss the following vaccinations with your doctor 4-8 weeks prior to coming to Fiji. Don’t leave immunisations until the last day, as some require multiple treatments or need to be given before you travel. Please note the these vaccinations are recommended, not mandatory, so you do not need to have them if you chose not to.
Mosquitoes are common in Fiji. We recommend using a good quality insect repellent (at least 25% DEET). We encourage you to bring your own alcohol hand sanitizer and use it regularly to prevent the spread of germs and infection.
Recommendations for Vaccine Preventable Diseases
Recommended if you are not up to date with routine shots such as: measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) vaccine, polio virus vaccine etc. You may need booster shots.
Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG)
Recommended for all unvaccinated people travelling to, or working in, countries with an intermediate to high level of hepatitis A virus infection where exposure might occur through food or water
Recommended for all unvaccinated people travelling to, or working in, countries with intermediate to high levels of endemic HBV transmission, especially those who might be exposed to blood or body fluids.
Recommended for all unvaccinated people travelling to, or working in, Southern and Western Pacific, especially if visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas, where exposure might occur through food and water.
English is the lingua franca, but Fijian and Hindi are also taught in schools as part of the school curriculum. Indigenous Fijians have their own dialects and you can tell where one comes from through this. Indians too have their own, and generally speak a distinctive Fiji-Hindi dialect. This is not the same as the one spoken in India.
1. What is the time difference in Fiji?
Fiji is GMT + 12.00 hours. Generally Fiji is the same time as New Zealand, but has a different daylight savings period, so can be an hour different.
2. How long does it take to fly to Fiji?
Fiji is 3 hours flight from Auckland, New Zealand, or between 3 and 4.5 hours from Australia (excluding Perth).
3. What is the currency in Fiji?
Fijian Dollar. Exchange rates vary from day to day, but generally the Fijian dollar sits at around $0.75 NZD and $0.70 AUD.
4. Do I need to bring Fijian Dollars with me?
You can easily change most currencies once you arrive in Fiji at the major banks. You will not need much money during outreach – in fact we discourage bringing a lot to avoid potential theft. Occasionally there are handicraft markets in the village which you can buy from, or small local stores. ATM machines accepting Visa or Mastercard are in all major towns and cities.
5. Will there be internet or phone services?
Internet is only available in a few internet cafes in the main centres. There will be no internet available once we head out to the outreach location. Mobile phone reception can be sparse outside of the main centres. Local phone companies do have cheap SIM cards with reasonable international calling rates for those who wish to purchase one.
6. Can I bring gifts, or items to donate?
Yes! When choosing gifts, please be mindful of who you are giving them too. Small items like balloons, or stickers are ideal for children. Souvenirs from your home country are also ideal. Consider bringing other items for donation like Bibles, school books or medical supplies.