Indigenous Fijians lived a very different lifestyle before Christianity was introduced.
Whilst Fiji was under British rule however, the chiefly system and village structure was still upheld, this was partly due to laws protecting Fijian land rights.
There are still a lot of villages today, with the chief being the head of the village. Many indigenous Fijians work, especially in the hotels and resorts whilst Indo-Fijians work in the major business centres. Indigenous and Indo Fijians try to uphold and retain their religious beliefs within their community but as more move away for work this becomes difficult.
The following points will help while you are travelling in Fiji to avoid any cultural misunderstandings or offending anyone unintentionally.
If you are travelling with children, Fijians will appreciate you keeping the children quiet and polite.
Fijian’s dress very conservatively. If you are in a resort, it is fine to be in bathers and not much else but if you are in a village or other areas, it is respectful to cover your shoulders and knees.
Most Fijians assume that tourists are very well off, so try not to show off expensive items in their presence.
If you wish to take a photo they will generally accept but always be polite and ask first.
Fijian’s operate on what is called “Fiji Time”. They are very casual and laid back so have a little patience if required.
Many Fijians cannot afford cars and will often hitch, walk or bus to destinations. Most villager’s walking by the road side will appreciate a lift if you offer however it is not recommended do this in more urbanised areas such as Nadi and Suva. They will be very grateful and will engage in conversation as they are curious to know where you are from.
If you are visiting a village here a few points to remember it is polite to bring a gift of yaqona (kava). You can purchase half a kilo for around $5 – $10.
Take your shoes off before entering a house and never wear a hat and sunglasses in the village as it is considered disrespectful. It is also considered an insult to touch some ones head as they consider the head sacred.
Fijians are very friendly people so by consciously remembering their customs and respecting their culture they will in turn treat you graciously and with respect.
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Always remember “Conserve Fiji today to preserve Fiji for tomorrow.”