Updated: Thursday, March 06, 2008
Fiji is the meeting point for Melanesian (to its west) and Polynesian cultures (to its east) and this is reflected in its indigenous population. While the majority of indigenous Fijians have a Melanesian feel to their look and culture, the islands in the republic to its east are noticeably more Polynesian with a good mix of Tongan culture. As well, Fiji's northern-most island of Rotuma is a Polynesian outlier island whose population has a culture that seems more Samoan than Fijian. Fiji is also home to resettled Micronesians who now live on Rabi Island after their home in the former Gilbert and Ellice islands became uninhabitable.
Fiji is also the only Pacific Island country with a large population of people of Indian ethnicity. This came about during the colonial period when British plantation owners needed a steady workforce to run sugar plantations. Indians also arrived in Fiji later as business migrants, setting up shops and businesses in the islands.
Added to the mix is around 6,000 citizens of Chinese ethnicity whose ancestors arrived in Fiji to work farms, shops and businesses. There is also a good mix of other Pacific Islanders and people of European ethnicity.
It is a cosmopolitan mix that at last census was made up of 785,000 individuals. At the time, indigenous Fijians made up 49 per cent of Fiji, people of Indian ethnicity made up 46 per cent, while the remainder was made up of people of other Pacific Islander, Chinese and European ethnicity. (In Fiji, the term 'European' is used generally to refer to all Caucasians).