The Jaw-Dropping Geography of Fiji

The Fiji group consists of around 330 islands. located in the southern hemisphere the country has a perfect tropical climate. With only four significantly-sized islands, starting with the largest and most populous island being Viti Levu, the main hub of the Tourist Industry where the capital Suva resides, followed in size by Vanua Levu in the Northern Division, Kadavu in the south, and Taveuni Island, most commonly known as ‘the Garden island’ taking you back to the north division.

Natural Geography

aerial-view-fiji-near-nadi-landscape-mountains-small-villages-comeing-out-clouds-illuminated-sun-miserable-weather

The vast majority of Fiji’s land mass is volcanic in origin, with some reef-formed limestone and coastal sedimentary formations.

Fiji is composed of a diverse group of islands, from the very mountainous landscape in the southern island of Kadavu with its rough, and rugged high peaks, and rolling hills, to the beautiful beaches of the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands, from the pristine natural wonder of the rainbow reef hugging the northern islands of Vanua Levu, to the rich cosmopolitan hubs of Viti Levu and culturally historic islands of the Lomiaviti group, within a touching distance of the capital Suva.

The Fiji Plateau forming the natural backdrop of the islands is not a large region on a global scale, but it is wonderfully complex. With an area of 10 degrees of latitude by 15 degrees of longitude; are islands, trenches, island arcs, transform faults, spreading centers, deep basins, a large extent of abnormally shallow oceanic crust, and a budding continent.

From the imposing landscape of Kadavu with the Nabukelevu volcano towering 805 meters over the southwestern portion of the island, with the last recorded eruption occurring in 1660, the volcanos domed surfaces are blanketed with 7,200 acres of old-growth forests, home to important bird species and protected areas. Its raw and powerful past is brought to light through archeological findings, and local intergenerational myths; telling stories that uncover past dwellings and entire settlements being destroyed by several catastrophic events.

Taveuni the third most significant island within the Fijian archipelago is balanced on top of a solid shield volcano fixed to the base of the floor of the Pacific Ocean. The last activity seen occurred in 1658 AD, now known locally as the Garden Island of Fiji, because of the diverse and unique flora of the area. The island’s past volcanic activity can be easily observed by its 150 different-sized craters sprinkled across the land. The diverse flora and fauna of this magnificent island are reflected in the shallow depths of the rainbow reef caressing the coastline, with its distinctive soft corals and fish species.

Koro Island situated between the two main islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu is another volcanic island locally known for its striking chain of basaltic cinder cones that stretch from north to south of the island with no activity of over 10,000 years the island has become tourist destination in its own right and home to several thousand locals.

National Parks of Fiji and Marine Reefs and Sanctuaries

Young lady walking across a rope bridge in Fiji National Park of Fiji
National Parks of Fiji

Stretching across the full breadth of the Fijian archipelago of islands, are 10 heritage sites and 2 national parks, these national treasures are filled with hiking trails, wildlife reserves, historic sites, and endless opportunities for adventures. Some sites are protected for their history, others for recreation, and most simply for the natural wonder of their surroundings.  We deep dive into the history and importance they hold, to the Fijian culture and the present communities in the following article 12 Awe-inspiring National Heritage Parks In Fiji‘.

Interspersed between the islands 7 Eye-Popping Marine Reefs and Sanctuaries have been formed.  Through the National Green Growth Framework and the 20-year National Development Plan, a network of partnerships with different communities, provinces, and social institutions, has been developed, illustrating the importance of protecting and securing our precious nature for current and future generations.

Weather of Fiji

fiji sunset storm
Sunset after a coastal rainstorm in Fiji

The terrain and size of the islands are major contributory factors when discussing the weather and climate patterns, the smaller isles tend to be dry and sunny most of the time, with east-southeast cool trade winds keeping the temperatures nice and pleasant, the southwestern Yasawa and Mamanucas Islands are a perfect example of this they are blessed with copious amounts of sunshine throughout the year, a stark contrast to the main island of Viti Levu, with the mountainous interior creating a rain shadow effect between the Western and Central Divisions – in effect blocking the rainfall. In the Central Division. home to the Capital city of Suva, you will experience over twice the quantity of rainfall throughout the year compared with the Western Division, forming the hub of the tourism industry

‘The rain shadow effect is when an air mass moves from a low elevation (Suva) to a high elevation (Core Mountainous region in the center of the island), it expands and cools. This cool air cannot hold moisture as well as warm air. Cool air forms clouds, which drop rain and snow, as it rises up a mountain. After the air mass crosses over the peak of the mountain (Western Division, Nadi, Lautoka, Suncoast, and the Coral Coast) and starts down the other side, the air warms up and the clouds dissipate. That means there is less rainfall.'(National Geographic, 2019, embellished)’.

This natural phenomenon can be easily observed when traveling down the coastal highway (Queens Road), between Suva and Nadi, when you climb a steep incline on the dividing line between the two districts at different times of the year, you can find yourself being entrenched in a sudden downpour on the Suva side as you are driving along the road, and suddenly after you reach the peak of the hill and start descending down the other side, miraculously almost immediately the heaven clears and the radiant sun will start to appear again. Although not as dramatic as this more localized fluctuations in the weather patterns across the islands can be also observed.

The following article details the different weather and climate patterns enabling you to plan your holiday accordingly.

People History

Girls cutting coconut at Lavena village on Taveuni island Fiji, Geography of Fiji.
Girls cutting coconut at Lavena village on Taveuni Island Fiji

Fiji has had a tumultuous colourful history, known for its cannibalistic past, warring factors between opposing chiefs, the sandalwood trade in the 1800s, with the succession of the islands to Queen Victoria of Great Britain for their protection and guidance, a precursor to the formation of indentureship of people from India and the surrounding south pacific islands to work in the sugar plantations, to the more recent coups in the late 20th Century.

Through these sporadic events, the islands have evolved to become the cosmopolitan central hub of the south pacific islands, with The 4 Divisions of Fiji (Western, Central, Northern, and Eastern) dissected into 15 administrative provinces, each subdivided into their respective Districts and villages.

The islands have become a multicultural example of how people from all different cultural and social environments can live in complete harmony together. The wide range of ethnic groups living together – with Fijian (iTaukei) accounting for 56.8%, Indian 37.5%, Rotuman 1.2%, other 4.5% (European, part European, other Pacific Islander, Chinese)

Flora and Fauna

Hawksbill Turtle.

Fiji’s varied terrain provides a habitat for a plethora of unique flora and fauna, with the lowland and montane rainforests, mangroves, and coastal swamps, mixed in with the tall grasslands, and inland waters, with the ocean environment seamlessly merging together, that includes coral reefs, coastal lagoons, and deep pelagic areas. The islands hold many species of endangered species of plants and animals including birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

Further Research: Geologic Formations – Hot Springs & Geysers

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