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Fiji Islands is located in the south-west Pacific Ocean, about 3-4 hours north-west of Australia.
The total number of islands in Fiji archipelago is 332, however only 110 of these are inhabited. The largest island is called Viti Levu, which means big (levu) Fiji (viti). This main island is home to the nation's capital city of Suva, as well as the Nadi International airport which is the main gateway for airline travel in and out of Fiji. The second and third largest islands are located north-west, called Vanua Levu (big land) and Taveuni respectively. Taveuni was featured as one of Islands Magazine's "20 Best Islands to Live On" in 2007.
The magic of Fiji is created by the world-famous friendliness of its people, its diverse and captivating culture as well as the stunning landscape and climate (temperatures rarely move out of 21-31 degrees). The local Fijians are known as kai viti- people of Fiji (pronounced kye-veeti). To escape the tourist trail, travellers are able to explore the archipelago independently through Fiji's transportation networks (car, train, bus and taxi), otherwise for travellers looking for pure rest and relaxation, the islands feature a number of luxury beachside resorts and private transport.
Fijian legend states that the great chief Lutanasobasoba led his people across the seas to the new land of Fiji some 3500 years ago, and wasn't discovered by the Dutch and British until the 17th and 18th centuries. The European discoveries of the Fiji group were accidental. The first of these discoveries was made in 1643 by the Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman and English navigators, including Captain James Cook who sailed through in 1774, and made further explorations in the 18th century.
In 1874, an offer of cession by the Fijian chiefs was accepted and Fiji was proclaimed a possession of the British Crown. The 1880s saw a large-scale cultivation of sugar-cane begin, and over the next 40 years more than 60,000 indentured labourers from India were brought to the island to work. Previous racial conflict between Indians and indigenous Fijians played an important role in the development of the nation, however the creation of a new constitution in 1998 has established peaceful relations since.
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