The Republic of Fiji is often called the Crossroads of the Pacific because the group of 330 islands straddles the International Dateline (it passes directly through the island of Taveuni). Viti Levu and Vanua Levu comprise the two main islands of the chain. Viti Levu hosts the capital, Suva, most of the business and urban centers, and Nadi International Airport.
Travelers find Fiji a joyful mix of excitement and relaxation where it is considered impolite to rush. Some come to lounge on white palm-lined beaches, dive and snorkel in colorful coral gardens, float in an azure lagoon or stroll through rainforest. Others prefer to swim with dolphins and giant manta rays, surf 20-foot waves, raft raging mountain rivers or participate in traditional dance and fire walking celebrations.
Fijians are renowned for their friendliness and their welcome greeting, "Bula!" Many variations of Fijian, Indian and Asian cuisine reflect the ethnic diversity of the islands. English is the official language throughout the islands.
Fiji was a British colony for nearly a century before independence in 1970 and is now a republic with a British-based legal system. Although Fiji was once the favored vacation spot in Oceania, its popularity has declined recently due to political conflict between indigenous Fijians and Indian residents.
Fiji's weather and climate is usually warm and sunny. The wet season extends from November to April. The same period sees tropical cyclones, but they are seldom destructive.
Telecommunications, both local and international, are reliable. Postal and package delivery service is efficient. Fiji is one of the main airline hubs in South Pacific. Many international airlines service Nadi International Airport. Domestic air travel is faster, but more expensive than inter-island ferry service. Major roads are paved and vehicles operate on the left side. Public transportation is reliable and inexpensive.
The Fijian dollar (FJD) is the official currency. Costs are moderate and travelers can experience an economical vacation with spectacular scenery and a wide choice of water and beach activities in Fiji.
Violent crime directed at travelers is infrequent, but the rates of property crimes and simple assaults are high due to increased civil unrest, a souring economic situation, and protracted political uncertainties. Foreigners are increasingly becoming the victims of pickpocketing, purse snatching and harassment throughout Fiji, most frequently at night and in urban areas.