Fiji is perhaps the most cosmopolitan of all South Pacific nations.
Its population, just under 780,000, is populated with Fijians (50%),
Indians (46%), and with the remainder being part-Europeans, Rotumans,
Chinese, and other Pacific Islanders. Fijians,are traditionally
classified as Melanesian but years of intermingling with Polynesians
(notably Tongans) has produced a mixture of Melanesian and Polynesian
physical characteristics within the population.
Fijian customs reflect an utmost dignity and courtesy toward the
visitor. The second largest ethnic group are the Fiji Indians, who
came to the islands as laborers in the late 19th century.
Another important ethnic group but not so numerous as the Indians
are the 'Kai loma' otherwise known as half-castes or Part-Europeans.
These people of mixed blood proudly trace their cultural heritage
on both sides of the land and enjoy the rights of the family group
to which the Fijian parent belonged. Most speak both Fijian and
The Rotumans are a distinct Polynesian ethnic group who come from
the island of Rotuma (located 386 km northwest of Fiji). They enjoy
full citizenship, and many have settled on Viti Levu in order to
find greater economic opportunity.
Although a separate racial and cultural group, Rotumans have always
assimilated easily and see themselves as an intrinsic part of the
Fijian, Hindi, and English are the three main languages. Urdu, Tamil,
and Chinese languages are also spoken.
The Fijian language belongs to the enormous Austronesian language
family, which means they are related to thousands of other languages
spanning the globe from Malagasy in the west to Rapanui (Easter
Island) in the east, from Aotearoa (New Zealand) in the south to
Hawaii and Taiwan in the north.
After Fiji was settled, the flow of population continued north and
east throughout Polynesia. The languages of Polynesia (such as Maori,
Tahitian, Tongan, Samoan and Hawaiian), the language of the tiny
island of Rotuma to the north of Fiji, and of course their speakers,
all originated in Fiji more than 3000 years ago.
Christian 52% (Methodist 37%, Roman Catholic 9%), Hindu 38%, Muslim
8%, other 2% note: Fijians are mainly Christian, Indians are Hindu,
and there is a Muslim minority (1986)