Official name: Republic of the Fiji Islands
Area: 18,270 square kilometers (7,054 square miles)
Highest point on mainland : Mount Tomanivi (1,324 meters/4,344 feet)
Lowest point on land: Sea level
Hemispheres : Southern and Eastern
Time zone: Midnight = noon GMT
Longest distances: 595 kilometers (370 miles) from southeast to northwest; 454 kilometers (282 miles) from northeast to southwest
Land boundaries: None
Coastline: 1,129 kilometers (702 miles)
Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)
1 LOCATION AND SIZE
Fiji is an island nation in the South Pacific located about 2,735 kilometers (1,700 miles) northeast of Sydney, Australia; 1,769 kilometers (1,100 miles) north of Auckland, New Zealand; and 4,466 kilometers (2,776 miles) southwest of Honolulu, Hawaii. It is roughly one-third of the way from New Zealand to Hawaii. Fiji consists of around three hundred islands—about one-third of which are inhabited—and some five hundred islets, covering a total land area of 18,270 square kilometers (7,054 square miles).
2 TERRITORIES AND DEPENDENCIES
Fiji has no territories or dependencies.
Fiji's tropical climate is modified by easterly trade winds. Temperature variation between seasons is modest. High temperatures in the summer (October to March) reach 29°C (85°F); winter lows drop to only 20°C (68°F). Cooler temperatures are recorded at higher elevations.
Annual rainfall ranges from an average of 178 centimeters (70 inches) on the drier leeward sides of the islands to 305 centimeters (120 inches) on the windward sides. The leeward sides have a dry season from April to October, while rainfall is distributed throughout the year on the windward sides. The hurricane season lasts from November to April, but disastrous hurricanes are rare.
4 TOPOGRAPHIC REGIONS
There are no specific topographic regions in Fiji.
5 OCEANS AND SEAS
Fiji is located in the South Pacific Ocean and surrounds the Koro Sea.
Seacoast and Undersea Features
Coral reefs fringe the islands, and circular or U-shaped coral atolls and barrier reefs encircle large coastal lagoons. The reefs, rocks, and shoals in the waters off Fiji make navigation on the Koro Sea dangerous.
Sea Inlets and Straits
The Somosomo Straits separate the islands of Vanua Levu and Taveuni. Taveuni is in turn separated from the Lau island group by the Nanuku Passage. Several other passages separate the various islands and island groups. The coastline of Vanua Levu is much more deeply indented than that of Viti Levu and includes the long, narrow Natewa Bay.
Islands and Archipelagos
By far the two largest islands in Fiji's archipelago are Viti Levu, near its western end, and Vanua Levu, which reaches almost to the northernmost point. The fifty-seven easternmost islands are collectively known as the Lau Group. With a land area of only 160 square kilometers (62 square miles), they stretch over an expanse of ocean covering 112,000 square kilometers (43,232 square miles).
The islands in the central part of the archipelago make up the area called Lomaiviti, or Central Fiji. There are seven larger islands and several smaller ones. At the northwest end of Fiji lies a string of islands called the Yasawa Group. The Polynesian island of Rotuma, located 708 kilometers (440 miles) north of Suva, also belongs to Fiji, although it is separate from the rest of the island group. The larger islands are generally mountainous, with flatter land along their river deltas and fertile coastal plains.
Fiji is known for its sandy beaches, which support a thriving tourist industry. Mangrove swamps are found on the eastern coastlines of many of Fiji's islands.
6 INLAND LAKES
Fiji has no inland lakes.
7 RIVERS AND WATERFALLS
On Viti Levu, the largest island, the major river is the Rewa; this river is navigable for 113 kilometers (70 miles). The island also has other river systems, including those of the Nadi, Ba, and Sigatoka. All of these rivers rise in the island's central mountains. The main river on Vanua Levu is the Dreketi.
There are no deserts on Fiji.
9 FLAT AND ROLLING TERRAIN
The western parts of Fiji's larger islands are flat, dry grasslands.
10 MOUNTAINS AND VOLCANOES
Fiji's largest island, Viti Levu, has a central mountain range dividing it down the middle, with some peaks rising higher than 914 meters (3,000 feet), including Fiji's highest mountain, Mount Tomanivi. The mountain system includes the picturesque Nausori Highlands. The next-largest island, Vanua Levu, also has a central range, which spans its length and has peaks of roughly equal height. Fiji's other large islands are also mountainous, with slopes that often rise dramatically near the shoreline.
11 CANYONS AND CAVES
There are no notable caves or canyons on Fiji.
12 PLATEAUS AND MONOLITHS
Some of the higher mountain peaks on Fiji's large islands give way to plateaus before descending to the lowlands near the coast.
13 MAN-MADE FEATURES
There are no significant man-made features affecting the geography of Fiji.
DID YOU KNOW?
The tagimaucia, a beautiful red-and-white flowering plant that resembles the hibiscus, blooms in only one place in the world: on the banks of the Tagimaucia River in the mountains of Taveuni Island.
14 FURTHER READING
Fiji: A Lonely Planet Travel Survival Kit. Berkeley, CA: Lonely Planet, 2000.
Lal, Brij V. Broken Waves: A History of the Fiji Islands in the Twentieth Century . Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1992.
Wright, Ronald. On Fiji Islands . New York: Viking, 1986.