Fijian Culture and History
Once renowned as the ‘Cannibal Isles,’ Fiji is now better known for its friendly, easy-going people and warm generosity. Immigration and colonisation have seen the country develop into a fascinating blend of cultures including Melanesian, Polynesian, Indian, European and Chinese. This cultural mix creates a rewarding diversity that is reflected in the variety of food, languages and traditions.
The Fiji archipelago was first settled about three and a half thousand years ago by the Lapita people. Linguistic studies have shown that they may have come from Vanuatu or the eastern Solomon Islands. During the 19th century, Fiji developed into a trade centre for the South Pacific and in 1874 the country became a colony of Britain. Between 1879 and 1916 Indians came to Fiji as indentured laborers to work on the colonial sugar plantations. After the indentured system was abolished, many Indians remained as business people and independent farmers. Fiji gained independence from Britain in 1970.
Unlike many other countries, the indigenous people have not lost their traditions and some aspects of life today are as they were a hundred years ago. Traditional Fijian society is based on communal principles developed from village life. The people of a village share the obligations and benefits of community life and are still led by a hereditary chief. Everyone in a village works together to grow crops, prepare food and build homes. This communal system works as an extended family unit that allows no-one to go hungry or uncared for.
The visit to Malake Village includes the boat ride to the island departing from Volivoli Beach. $35 per person
For a real Fijian experience and an insight into traditional village life, we offer guests the opportunity to visit nearby Malake Village. You’ll travel there by boat, accompanied by a guide who will tell you about the local area and the ways of village life.
On arrival at the village, you’ll be greeted with a traditional Kava ceremony which involves sharing a bowl or two of Kava with the village leaders. You’ll then be taken to see the church and meet the children at the local primary school, followed by a visit to the local handicrafts market, which is run by the village women.
We do ask you to please dress modestly when visiting Malake village. Women should have covered shoulders and wear long pants or a skirt that reaches below the knees. Men should not be bare-chested. When entering a village you should also remove your hat and sunglasses.