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Bula Fiji!

17 June 2010

Bula Fiji!
June 17th 2010

Fiji, is blessed with 333 magnificent islands, some inhabited, but most of which are not. Its landscape is an idyllic mix of white sandy beaches, swaying coconut trees, pristine oceans and waterways and a range of things to do and see. But more then this Fiji has its people - smiling, generous, relaxed Fijians who greet everyone they meet with the famous and welcoming Bula.

A visit to Fiji is not complete without a traditional kava session and their mekes (traditional song and dance), are a cultural feast. World ARC participants will have plenty of opportunity to visit one of these events during their 10 day stay in the country. Some crews will visit Suva first and others Savusavu. From their initial ports of entry, the boats will then head west for a rendezvous at Musket Cove Resort near Nadi. Sailing in Fiji has not always been so fortuitous though.

It's Discovery by Eurpoeans
Abel Tasman became the first European to sail past the Fiji islands in 1643, and his descriptions of treacherous reef systems kept mariners away for the next 130 years. The English navigator James Cook visited uneventfully, stopping on Vatoa in the southern Lau Group in 1774. After the famous mutiny on the Bounty in 1789, Captain Bligh and his castaway companions passed between Vanua Levu and Viti Levu, through a channel now known as Bligh Water.

Religious History
In the 1830s London Missionary Society pastors and Wesleyan Methodist missionaries arrived in Southern Lau to find converts and to preach against cannibalism. Progress was slow until the chiefs started to convert. Powerful Cakobau somewhat reluctantly adopted Christianity in 1854. This was a triumph for the Methodist Church, who later sent Reverend Baker out to spread the gospel in the western highlands of Viti Levu. In 1867, unfortunately for him, he was killed and eaten by locals.

Colonialism and Independance
In 1874, tired of endless quarrels and warfare, King Cakobau (Bauen Chief) ceded his kingdom to Britian at the historic old capital of Levuka on Ovalau.The British brought Colonial rule and introduces Indian laborers to the new sugar plantations known as Girmits. Fiji regained it’s independence by mutual consent in 1970. There are now almost 800,000 people living in Fiji. Half are indigenous Fijians (Rotumans) about 44% Indians and the remainder of European or Chinese origin.

Nowadays, Fiji reflects its history. The disperse islands are interesting places to visit for all of there history and wherever one goes, you can expected to hear a friendly 'Bula'

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