Updated: Monday, February 18, 2008
Taveuni is situated 6.5 kilometres to the east of Vanua Levu, across the Somosomo Strait and with a total land area of 435 square kilometres, it is the third-largest island in Fiji. Statistics from the 1996 census show Taveuni with a population of around 9,000, some 75 percent of them indigenous Fijians.
With its abundant flora, Taveuni is commonly called the 'Garden Isle' of Fiji and is a popular tourist destination.
History - In 1643, Abel Tasman became the first European to sight Taveuni. Visibility was poor and he mistook the peaks of Taveuni to be separate islands.
Historically, Vuna was considered to be the paramount village on Taveuni, but tribal warfare eventually established the supremacy of Somosomo.
Economy - Copra has been traditionally the most important crop produced on Taveuni, and has always been the staple of the local economy. In recent times farmers have mainly shifted to growing Taro, Kava and other speciality crops like vanilla, along with tropical fruit and coffee. During the American Civil War (1861-1865), cotton was raised on Taveuni and exported to Europe. Sugarcane was also grown for a brief period. Livestock such as sheep, cattle, and poultry are also raised, but animal husbandry lags behind crop production in economic importance.
In recent times, tourism has become a contributor to the local economy, with about a dozen small resorts providing accommodation options for visitors and employment and business opportunities to the local population.