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Preface Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:00 PM

Fiji is a tropical archipelago with all the advantages and disadvantages associated with island geography. The country offers beautiful scenery, friendly people, interesting work and excellent opportunities for outdoor recreation. It also features a full complement of tropical conditions, including heat, humidity, rain, mildew, tropical diseases (but not malaria), significant political issues and a shortage of urban amenities to which Americans are accustomed.

Fiji is the crossroads of the Pacific, a center for transportation, trade and regional organizations. The Embassy has responsibilities in three other independent countries — Tonga, Tuvalu and Nauru — and three French overseas territories. Officers with regional responsibilities can expect substantial official travel.

Racial tensions between the indigenous Fijian and Indo-Fijian communities exist and have been exacerbated by two military coups in 1987 and an attempted coup and unconstitutional change of government in 2000. Although these problems have led to isolated incidents of violence, Suva, for the most part, and the rest of the country continue to retain a friendly atmosphere. A good standard of public courtesy prevails in spite of the communal differences. Those willing to make the effort will be able to make friends in all of Fiji’s assorted racial communities. Moreover, most employees have excellent access to Fiji officials and counterparts in the government and private sector.

For the person who appreciates its attractions, Suva can be a pleasant assignment. Adherents of scuba diving, snorkeling, boating, golf and tennis will find their leisure hours well occupied-when it isn’t raining. Suva’s shops are well stocked, so shortages of basic goods are seldom a problem. But Suva is not Sydney; nor is it a holiday destination as you might imagine. It is small and urban, and functions primarily as a commercial and government center. Employees whose preferences run to theater, television, shopping, concerts or other forms of city-life entertainment may find Suva somewhat dull.

Employment opportunities for spouses are limited because of the small size of the post and the local economy. However, the Mission makes every effort to employ spouses through alternative hiring methods.

The Host Country

Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:03 PM

Tourist literature on Fiji refers to “300 islands in the sun.” Of the 320 islands and islets that make up the Fiji group, only about 150 are permanently inhabited. The total land area of the country, 18,272 square kilometers (7,055 square miles), is about the size of the State of Hawaii. The largest island, Viti Levu, 10,386 square kilometers (4,101 square miles), is about the size of the Big Island of Hawaii. Viti Levu has a mountainous interior penetrated by few roads. Most agricultural land and all towns are near the sea or along the river valleys. The highest point, Mt. Victoria, rises 1,323 meters (4,341 feet). Twenty-eight other peaks exceed 914 meters (3,000 feet). Vegetation on the windward side of the islands is luxuriously tropical, while grasslands prevail on the leeward sides.

The climate is warm and humid. Suva, on the eastern “wet” side of Viti Levu, averages 120 inches of rain annually. The western and northern sides of the island are drier and sunnier. Temperatures in Suva range from the high 60’s in the winter, to the mid 90’s in the summer. Most of Fiji’s sugarcane, the nation’s primary crop, is grown on the western side. Nadi (pronounced Nandi), site of the international airport, lies on the western side, benefiting from the better weather and visibility. Many of Fiji’s tourist resorts, some ranking among the best in the world, are in the West.

The wet summer season lasts from December through March. The cooler, drier winter season falls between May and October. Although temperature changes are noticeable, the average number of days of rainfall in Suva varies little from month to month. Humidity during summer is usually high, often reaching 90% and above. Fiji is in the hurricane zone. The last hurricane to hit Suva directly was Cyclone Kina, in January 1991. In March 1997, Cyclone Gavin swept through northern Vanua Levu and the northwestern part of Viti Levu, devastating several outer island-groups. Southeast trade winds blow steadily from March to October, with variable winds during the Southern Hemisphere summer. Mildew and corrosion present constant problems. The use of air conditioning, dehumidifiers and “hot closets” reduce the danger of mildew damage to clothes, video tapes and other possessions.

Non-malarial mosquitoes are numerous, particularly in the summer. An epidemic of mosquito-borne dengue fever, which reoccurs every few years, occurred in early 1998. Poisonous insects, snakes and sealife are not common, though scratches and cuts, particularly those suffered while swimming or diving, need to be treated promptly as they can easily become infected.

Fiji lies near a major fault line and has suffered major earthquakes. Although the last severe quake was in 1953, small tremors are occasionally felt. In November 1998, quakes registering as high as 4.3 occurred on the island of Kadavu, southeast of Viti Levu.

Population Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:05 PM

Fiji’s population was estimated at 776,000 at the end of 1997. According to official figures, ethnic Fijians now outnumber Indo-Fijans. The Fijians are descended from Melanesian voyagers who arrived in the islands hundreds or thousands of years ago. Most of the Indo-Fijian population is descended from indentured laborers who arrived in the late 19th century to work on sugar cane plantations and stayed on when their indentures expired.

Emigration among the Indian population, already an established trend, accelerated after the 1987 military coups. Many emigrants were professionals and managers, resulting in serious consequences for human resources and the economy. As many as half of Fiji’s doctors and lawyers emigrated in the 18 months following the first coup. According to the last census, official population estimates for December 31, 1997 are as follows:

Fijian 51.0% Indian 42.5% Others 6.5%

The “others” category includes part-Europeans (the local term for persons of mixed Fijian and European ancestry), Rotumans (Rotuma is an outlying island whose population is Polynesian), other Pacific islanders, Chinese and Europeans (whites).

Fiji straddles an ethnic line between Melanesia to the west and Polynesia to the east. As a result, Polynesian influence is prevalent in Lau, the eastern islands of the Fiji group. Fiji’s diversity is also reflected in its many religions. The indigenous Fijian population is mainly Methodist, with strong minorities of other Protestant groups and Roman Catholics. Fijians, like most Pacific islanders, are devoted to their religion and maintain a strict Sabbath. Many Chinese are Roman Catholic. The majority of Indo-Fijians are Hindu; the remainder are Muslims, Sikhs, or Christians.

English, Fijian and Hindi are the three languages of the islands, with English being the official language of the government and the media. The older Chinese speak Cantonese as well as English. Despite the use of English in the country’s schools, it is estimated that outside of the major urban areas, only 20% of Fiji’s population can speak English fluently.

Fiji’s several ethnic communities have maintained their unique cultural patterns, giving the country an attractive, multi-cultural atmosphere. Although various ethnic groups support separate churches, many schools are integrated.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:07 PM

A decade after two military coups in 1987, Fiji made significant progress toward the restoration of democracy with the approval of an amended Constitution in 1997, which encouraged multi-ethnic government while protecting traditional indigenous Fijian cultural and land interests. Under the amended Constitution, which included a strengthened bill of rights, the Prime Minister and the President could be of any race. For the first time, in addition to communally-allocated seats, open seats were created that were not allocated to any racial community in the Lower House.

Democratic elections were held in May 1999, the first under Fiji’s revised, more democratic Constitution, resulting in a change in government. The Labor Party-led coalition headed by Mahenda Chaudhry, was elected with a large parliamentary majority. Chaudhry was Fiji’s first Indo-Fijian Prime Minister.

However, in May 2000, an armed group of militant ethnic Fijian nationalists, joined by a few military officers, seized the Prime Minister and his Cabinet in the Parliamentary complex and held them hostage for 56 days. Following continued political turmoil, the army usurped governmental authority, forced the resignation of President Ratu Mara, abrogated the 1997 constitution and installed an Interim Prime Minister and Cabinet. A commission to formulate a new constitution has been established by the Great Council of Chiefs and elections are promised by August, 2001. Fiji is likely to remain an undemocratic state for at least two or three years.

Fiji has a wide variety of nongovernmental, fraternal, and charitable organizations such as Rotary, Lions, Jaycees, YMCA/YWCA, Red Cross, Girmit Council, Muslim League and women’s groups. Some such organizations are communally based; others are multiracial.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 5/31/2001 6:00 PM

As a small, primarily agricultural country, far removed from any metropolitan center, Fiji has limited self-generating cultural activities or major scholarly centers. The Fiji Arts Council, with government support, sponsors a number of local arts and crafts clubs. The Fiji Arts Club presents five or six quality productions each year. Embassy staff who are interested in the theater are welcomed. Dancing, singing and various Fijian and Indian religious and secular celebrations and ceremonies are a colorful and authentic continuation of a long tradition. The French Embassy supports the Alliance Francaise Center.

The University of the South Pacific (USP), established in 1967 in Suva, contributes to the intellectual life of the regional community. Founded as a regional university for the English-speaking areas of the South Pacific, USP concentrates on educating professionals and teachers. Institutes of Marine Science, Natural Resources, and Research; Education and Extension in Agriculture; Social Sciences Administration; and Pacific Studies are expanding USP's scope of research and teaching. USP's School of Agriculture is located in Samoa, and the School of Law is in Vanuatu.

The small, but excellent, Fiji Museum has a good collection of traditional Fijian artifacts, as well as displays from throughout the Pacific. Art and other exhibitions by local or visiting artists provide some cultural diversions.

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:09 PM

Fiji is primarily an agricultural country, dependent on sugar and, to a lesser degree, other agricultural commodities for export income. In recent years, tourism has been the fastest growing foreign-exchange earner in Fiji and may well become the most important industry in future years. Gold is mined in the interior of Viti Levu, although production varies with market price. Timber, particularly Caribbean pine, is an important export due to a major forestation project begun by the government in 1972. Major stands of mahogany, planted 30 or more years ago, are maturing and ready for harvest. Some light industry, including marine repair facilities, a brewery, flour mills, several rice mills, a cooperative dairy plant capable of producing both fresh and ultra-high temperature (UHT) milk, a steel-rolling mill, and a household paint factory have been established. Sugar and tourism constitute the mainstays of the economy, accounting for more than half of the nation’s foreign exchange earnings.

Fiji imports from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the U.S. the UK, and Southeast Asia. It is a member of the International Sugar Organization and exports sugar to the European Community under the Cotonou Convention.

Land in Fiji is either Crown land (owned by the government, 10%), freehold land (7%), or native land (83%). As in most of the Pacific, native land is held in common by extended family groups. Some land was alienated from these groups before Fiji became a British possession in 1874 and it is now freehold. Once Fiji became a colony, native land was protected and no further significant land sales were allowed. The native land is controlled by the Native Lands Trust Board, which administers the land for the family groups. Substantial areas of native land, however, are mountainous with only forestry as a potential commercial activity. Immigrant groups (mainly Indians) have had difficulty buying land and, as a result, have become tenant farmers or have entered commercial fields. Most agricultural land is currently leased for a period of 30 years, after which it reverts to the traditional land-owning group unless negotiations succeed in establishing new lease arrangements. Much of Fiji’s land remains under-utilized. As leases expire, Fiji faces a dilemma. Ethnic Fijian landowners are increasingly eager to farm their own land or are demanding high lease rates. Consequently, many Indo-Fijian farmers face the prospect of becoming displaced.

Fiji’s largest commercial firms are, for the most part, owned by expatriates or naturalized European-Fijians. Business methods are predominantly Australian, New Zealand and British.

The undemocratic change of government in May 2000 had a devastating effect on the economy. GDP declined by over 10 percent. Tourism declined nearly 40 percent, resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs. The garment industry has faltered in the face of sanctions by Australia and New Zealand, costing many more jobs. In all, it is estimated that 7,000 jobs were lost in the four months following the May crisis. The 2000 sugar harvest was not immediately affected. However, the EU is reassessing its preferential sugar pricing for Fiji in light of the loss of democracy. Fiji also may lose preferential markets for its textiles. Such changes in preferential pricing would have devastating impacts on the sugar and garment industries. A serious contraction of the economy is expected in 2000 and beyond.


Automobiles Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:11 PM

You will want a personal vehicle. Travel on the main island of Viti Levu is mostly by road and moves on the left. The maximum speed limit is 80 kph (50 mph).

Local regulations allow the importation of left-hand-drive cars for consular or diplomatic personnel. Some American staff members import American models. They cannot be sold locally after the completion of tour, unless to another diplomat. However, difficulties may occur because local repair shops are not used to working on American cars, parts are not generally available, Fiji operates on the metric system and traffic moves on the left. Before shipping an American car by sea freight, consider the advantage of buying a right-hand-drive car in Fiji. Vehicles manufactured in Japan and Australia are available. Any employee opting to ship an American model car to post should bring along essential spare parts, or be prepared to order these from the U.S. A workshop manual would also be useful. All imported cars must be inspected (called a warrant of fitness in Fiji) if it was previously registered in a foreign country. Do not attempt to convert a left-hand drive vehicle to right-hand-drive in Fiji.

Embassy staff and dependents (ages 18 and over) must have a Fiji driver’s license. A valid US license or a license issued by any other foreign country may be used for 6 months only. A local driver’s license can be obtained for Embassy personnel upon presentation of a valid non-Fijian license. Third-party insurance is mandatory, but inexpensive. In addition, the Embassy urges that personally-owned vehicles be fully insured. Such insurance is available locally. Bring “no-claim” letters for a discount, which will bring the cost down.

Resale of locally purchased cars at the end of tour is unrestricted. Applicable customs duty must be paid by the seller, though diplomatic personnel are exempted from 1/60th of the total duty value for each month the car has been in Fiji. If you are shipping a car, consider an air-conditioned model. Although it will use more gas than a regular car, the comfort derived from the air-conditioner during the hot and humid summer months will be worth the price. (Note: R12 gas is banned in car air conditioners in Fiji.) Although gasoline is expensive in Fiji (approximately F$4.50 a gallon), a gas tax rebate (roughly 50%) is offered to employees on the diplomatic list. Given that unleaded gas is now readily available in Fiji, there is no longer any need to remove the catalytic converter from vehicles imported from the U.S.

The Embassy has 10 official vehicles, including a Ford Crown Victoria, LAV for the Ambassador’s use and several four-wheel-drive vehicles. The Defense Attach‚ Office (DAO) has a sedan and a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

Local Transportation Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:13 PM

Suva has sufficient paved streets for the number of cars in the city. A generally good paved road circles most of the main island of Viti Levu. From Suva to Lautoka, following the southern and western coasts, the coastal road is called the Queens Road. Many of Fiji’s tourist hotels are located along this stretch. From Lautoka to Suva, following the northern and eastern coasts, the road is called the King’s Road and includes a 30-mile stretch of rough gravel road along the northeast coast. It takes about 50 minutes to drive to the Pacific Harbour Beach and Golf Resort to the west of Suva, and about 3 hours to drive from Suva to Nadi and the international airport.

The Embassy recommends that Embassy personnel avoid driving out of the main cities and towns at night. Stray livestock occasionally wander in the road and have caused fatal accidents in the past.

Public transportation by bus is frequent and inexpensive, but the bus fleet is aging. Taxis are plentiful, equipped with meters and inexpensive. Most, however, are in poor condition and it is common for taxi drivers to speed and otherwise drive in an unsafe manner. Motorcycles and bicycles are rare in Suva. Frequent rain and hilly terrain make them impractical. Personally owned automobiles are the usual means of transport for Embassy personnel.

Regional Transportation Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:13 PM

Air Pacific, Fiji’s international flag carrier, and other regional airlines have international flights that connect Fiji with Los Angeles, Honolulu, Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, American Samoa, Samoa, Tuvalu, Kiribati (formerly the Gilbert Islands), New Caledonia, Tahiti, Vanuatu (formerly the New Hebrides), and Japan.

International airlines serving Fiji from the U.S. are Air Pacific (in a code-share with American Airlines from Los Angeles) and Air New Zealand (in a code-share with United Airlines from Honolulu). U.S. government travelers must travel on one of these code-share flights. Currently, no American flag carrier serves Fiji directly.

Air Pacific, Fiji Air and Sun Air operate routes within Fiji. They provide several daily flights between Suva and the international airport at Nadi, and also service the islands of Vanua Levu and Taveuni. Air Fiji and Sunflower fly to smaller airports in the Fiji group and Tuvalu, and Turtle Airways connects various resort areas by small amphibious aircraft. There is a helicopter service.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:15 PM

Local telephone service is good. Fiji is served domestically by Telecom Fiji Ltd, while international communications are provided by Fintel, Ltd. Telephone connections with Australia, Canada, the U.S., Europe, and most of the rest of the world are excellent, but do experience occasional “fade out” and disconnection. Regional communications to the neighboring and smaller islands is somewhat less reliable and can vary in quality depending on the time of day and prevailing climatic conditions. E-mail and Internet communications are available through Telecom Fiji Internet Services, but are expensive, slow and subject to disconnection. Telephone Calling Cards are available as well as mobile (Vodafone) telephone services and voice mail. International and domestic telegram services, including Western Union, are available 24 hours and are reliable. Though Fiji’s communication services are good and generally keep up with emerging technologies, prices are high by U.S. standards.

The Embassy phone number is (679) 314–466. The main fax number is (679) 300–081. Individual offices have direct telephone and fax lines. The Embassy E-mail address is: The Embassy has an IVG line, which enables telephone calls to be made to the Washington, D.C. local calling area at no expense.

Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:16 PM

International airmail takes up to two weeks to and from the U.S. Packages sent by international surface mail are transported via sea and can take up to 3 months to arrive. No censorship exists and packages pass through customs without delay. However, there have been complaints, though rare, about packages being stolen from the Fiji mail system. The pouch may be used to receive personal letters and packages, but packages must conform to the size, weight, and contents regulations of 5-FAM. Since Suva is a Class “B” post, employees may send only letters and VCR tapes out in the pouch. Exceptions are for items ordered from catalog supply houses, which are being returned for exchange or refund. U.S. stamps are not sold locally so you will need to bring a supply to post. The outgoing pouch dispatch from Suva is on Friday afternoon and it is usually received at the Sterling, Virginia Mail and Pouch Facility prior to Tuesday morning East Coast time. Pouches for Suva are dispatched from the Department’s Pouch and Mail Facility twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Delivery times can vary from one week to one month.

Suva has no APO facility. Mail for Suva should be addressed:

Via International Mail:

(Name) American Embassy 31 Loftus Street P.O. Box 218 Suva, Fiji Islands

Via Pouch:

(Name) American Embassy Suva 4290 Suva Pl. Department of State Washington, D.C. 20521–4290

Some Embassy staff members have found that personal correspondence sent by international airmail is fast and reliable. Correspondents in the U.S., however, should be cautioned to put sufficient postage on letters and to clearly mark them “AIRMAIL” to ensure they are handled as airmail and not as surface mail. Employees are discouraged from sending packages or important documents through the local mail because of the possibility of theft. Catalogs sent through the pouch will be delivered if they are addressed directly to an individual.

Radio and TV Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:17 PM

Fiji has one commercial TV station, which offers one free channel and two cable channels: Sky Entertainment and Sky Sports. In addition, the Chancery and all American staff residences are now equipped to receive AFRTS programming by satellite.

Two radio stations operate in the country. The government-owned Island Network Corporation broadcasts nationwide in three languages: Hindi, Fijian and English. Established in 1954, it is run by the Fiji Broadcasting Commission and broadcasts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It directly rebroadcasts foreign news from BBC and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). It also uses prerecorded and packaged music and current affairs programs to supplement local productions. FM 96 is commercially run and has a 24-hour, all-music format geared to younger listeners. It also broadcasts in three languages, and has brief news programs. It derives its world news output from the BBC, ABC, and VOA. FM 96 has transmitters in Suva and Lautoka.

Japanese short wave radios are available locally. Reception from Australia and New Zealand is good, but the same cannot be said for VOA or BBC. Additional antennae are needed to boost reception. The Mission has two multi-band short wave radio.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:19 PM

Currently, the country has three daily English-language newspapers, The Fiji Times, The Fiji Sun and the Post. Locally published monthly magazines include Pacific and The Review. Hindi and Fijian-language newspapers are published weekly by the Fiji Times. Up-to-the-minute news on Fiji can be found on the Internet at, a website run by The Review magazine.

Overseas papers are not readily available. Australian and New Zealand papers usually arrive several days late. The New Zealand editions of Time and Newsweek are sold locally at newsstands or by subscription. Some American magazines are available locally (House and Garden, Vogue, etc.), but arrive late and are expensive.

The Suva City Library has a small, dated selection of fiction and nonfiction. The University of the South Pacific has a good library and limited bookstore. A small and expensive selection of paperbacks is available at bookstores in town. The CLO maintains a fairly good lending library of fiction and non-fiction paperbacks.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:22 PM

The Embassy operates a small Health unit, staffed by one part-time expatriate nurse. Services are limited to consultation, health assessment, counseling, referral, treatment of minor injuries, vaccinations and dispensing of medicine in case of an emergency. Most medicines are available at the many drugstores around town. The Regional Medical Officer, based in Jakarta, visits the post periodically for consultations, as does the Regional Psychiatrist based in Bangkok.

Local doctors are competent to care for common ailments. There are a few good local and expatriate doctors who regularly care for Embassy officials and their families. Most routine laboratory tests are performed by their staff or are sent to the main laboratory at the national hospital (Colonial War Memorial (CWM) Hospital) in Suva. Some tests, previously sent overseas, can now be tested at the two new private pathology laboratories in Suva. The Health Care Pacific Hospital (a new private hospital) houses one of the two private pathology labs. The Plaza Imaging facility provides private ultrasound and basic X-ray services in Suva. Special X-rays, ultrasound, CAT scans and echocardiogram services are available at CWM in Suva.

A 60-bed private hospital (Health Care Pacific), associated with Colonial Insurance Company, opened in mid-January 2001. It offers outpatient and inpatient services, operating theater services and a modern state-of-the-art pathology laboratory staffed by local and overseas specialists.

Due to the political crisis in Fiji that began in May 2000, professional people such as doctors, nurses, accountants, dentists and medical technicians are leaving the country. According to the president of the Fiji Medical Association, it is estimated that by January 2001 there will be a manpower loss of up to 30% not only among private practitioners, but also local and expatriate doctors currently staffing the main government hospital in Suva.

A cut in salaries in 2000 due to the political crisis has prompted even more nurses to resign and emigrate. As a result there is a move to hire ward assistants (nurses aides) to look after the basic nursing care of patients in the hospitals. In addition, many of the most qualified local nurses have been recruited from the Ministry of Health to staff the new private hospital (Health Care Pacific). This nursing shortage is likely to greatly affect the quality of care for patients in the government hospitals and community health centers in the country.

The Suva Colonial War Memorial Hospital is not recommended for treatment of Embassy personnel, except in an emergency for the stabilization of a patient either in the coronary or intensive care units prior to an evacuation. The original hospital buildings are old and have only slowly been renovated and painted. The newer extension houses the Accident and Emergency Units, all specialty clinics, operating theatres, acute care wards, critical care units, the main laboratory, the pharmacy and lecture theatres for the medical students. The hospital does not meet sanitation standards of American facilities. It is understaffed and the local training of medical and nursing personnel is not comparable to that found in the U.S. Nonetheless, the hospital is the best facility to cope with immediate treatment of serious medical emergencies until medical evacuation can be arranged. Most cases of serious illness or pregnancy are evacuated to Honolulu.

A new Children’s Hospital (a new addition to CWM), which opened in April 2000, is a very clean and spacious facility and includes a neonatal unit, outpatient and inpatient services for children, a pharmacy and neonatal training facilities. However, this new children’s hospital is not recommended for treatment of Embassy personnel except for stabilization to prepare for evacuation to New Zealand, Australia or Honolulu.

There are several American doctors currently working on contracts for the Fiji School of Medicine in Suva. They specialize in pediatrics, general surgery and research. These doctors are occasionally consulted by the health unit nurse for a second opinion to assist the Regional Medical Officer in Jakarta when a decision to evacuate a staff member or a dependent is needed.

Dental care and orthodontic services are available in Fiji. There is only one qualified orthodontist in Fiji who is based in Lautoka on the western side of the island, 220 km. from Suva. He is good and inexpensive. Although several private dentists can provide routine care and are comparatively inexpensive, sanitation may not be up to the U.S. standards. The Embassy recommends that any needed dental work be completed before arrival in Fiji. Cases requiring emergency dental treatment are medically evacuated.

Replacement eyeglasses are available in Fiji, and there are a few qualified ophthalmologists who offer limited eye diagnostic services. However, it is recommended that eye problems be taken care of before arriving in Fiji. Contact lens users should bring a supply of solutions with them, as supply and selection are limited.

If you require regular prescription medicine, make arrangements for refills to be sent to you from an American pharmacy through the diplomatic pouch. Pharmaceuticals in Fiji are imported mainly from Australia and New Zealand, with a few imported from the U.S., Canada and India. Intravenous fluids are imported from Baxter Company in Australia. Insulin is imported from Lilly Company. Most antibiotics are imported from Alpha Med in Australia. Vaccines are imported from New Zealand and Australia. Fiji has no capacity to test the quality of these imported drugs, other than screening drugs for expiration dates and any unusual characteristics such as color or shape. Questionable drugs are sent overseas for testing. American over-the-counter medicines are generally not available. Bring a supply of anything you regularly use, or arrange for it to be sent to you.

Community Health Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:23 PM

Sanitation in Suva is good by developing world standards. The general health of the population is also good. Filariasis and dengue fever exist in the islands. Infectious hepatitis is common but infectious disease rates are generally low. Leptospirosis has been the cause of several deaths in Fiji lately and preventive measures have been taken to educate the public on how to prevent contracting this disease. Tap water in Suva is usually potable, but not always. Boiling drinking water is recommended, especially during periods of heavy rainfall. The post provides water distillers at all residences. Most restaurants are safe. Homes in several residential areas use septic tanks rather than the sewer system. Garbage disposal is adequate. Vermin and insect pests, which thrive in this hot, wet climate, are always a problem that requires vigilance. The Embassy provides instructions for self-help pest control measures and can provide pest control services in extreme cases.

Lizards, lawn toads and mosquitoes are numerous but harmless, except in the case of the mosquitoes during dengue fever outbreaks. Employees should bring a supply of insect repellent for use outdoors. Take care in choosing an appropriate repellent for children. Malaria does not exist in Fiji or in the island countries to the east of Fiji. Typhoid outbreaks can occur, but are quickly contained and rarely seen in Suva. Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise, as are the number of HIV positive cases, especially among young people.

Preventive Measures Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:24 PM

Only the usual State Department immunization requirements are necessary in Fiji, and everyone is requested to get their vaccinations before arrival at post. Booster and immunization vaccines are available, as are most ordinary types of drugs and medicines. Gamma globulin shots are recommended before you come. Prior to arrival at post, employees anticipating regional travel may wish to have recommended immunizations for other countries they will visit, as these vaccines may not be routinely stocked at the Embassy Health Unit. Yellow fever and typhoid vaccines are available in Fiji for preventive measures if needed for regional travel. There is no malaria or yellow fever in Fiji.

Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:25 PM

Employment opportunities in the local economy are limited, as Fiji suffers a serious unemployment problem and is reluctant to grant labor permits to foreigners. Work permit applications are possible on a case-by-case basis and are made jointly by both the employer and potential employee. Though employers will consider hiring non-Fiji citizens with unique skills, the procedure involved makes them hesitant. Wages are low, making work on the local economy unattractive to many Americans. The Mission’s small size notwithstanding, it has been able to offer adequate employment opportunities to spouses through a variety of alternative hiring methods. Currently, the post has a part-time CLO coordinator position, a full time PIT secretarial position in the front office, a PIT position in the consular section.

A spouse or dependent interested in investing in Fiji or opening a business here will be considered for such activity in accordance with established USG Standards of Conduct and other regulations.

American Embassy - Suva

Post City Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:29 PM

The capital, Suva, is the chief port and only sizable city in Fiji (population approximately 107,000, metropolitan area approx. 300,000). It boasts a natural harbor and lies on a peninsula on the southeastern coast of the main island of Viti Levu (“Great Fiji”). Suva’s business center is adjacent to the wharf and harbor frontage; a light industrial park is on the north along the shore; and a complex of government buildings and government housing extends south. On the surrounding low hills are scattered residential areas, including the better sections of Tamavua, Domain and Muanikau. Another popular residential area, Lami, lies along the coast to the west. Across the harbor from the city rises an amphitheater of rugged mountains. Suva’s airport is 26 kilometers (15.6 miles) to the east on the Rewa River, just past the small, outlying town of Nausori.

Newer residential housing consists of concrete, ranch-style or two-story houses with surrounding gardens. Some older houses have verandas, often identified with tropical colonial outposts. Most houses have corrugated tin roofs. Throughout the city, lush tropical growth is supplemented by municipal and private plantings of hibiscus, poinsettias, orchids, gardenias and varieties of tropical trees such as bananas, papayas, coconuts, palms, mangoes and breadfruit. Islands in Suva Harbor provide small swimming beaches, but the nearest sand beach frontage is 56 kilometers (35 miles) away at Pacific Harbour.

The city’s shops are generally small and owned mostly by Indo-Fijians. Most greengrocers are Chinese. The Suva Central Market is the largest public market in the South Pacific and offers a large quantity and variety of fruits and vegetables in season. Suva has a number of large department-type stores and associated supermarkets, including the American company, Cost-U-Less, a warehouse-type store that opened in Nadi and Suva in 1998. A small number of business people, a few missionaries, some teachers and a few Americans married to Fijians comprise the small American community. The Europeans of Suva are divided among a small group of old families dating from Fiji's earliest colonial days and a more transient population of expatriates (Australians, British, and New Zealanders) in the civil service, business, and education.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:34 PM

The Chancery occupies a five-story leased building on Loftus Street near the main government buildings. The DATT has offices there. The Chancery is currently undergoing major renovations, which will result in a larger, more modern and more secure building. However, some disruption of operations will occur through 2001. The Embassy telephone number is (679) 314–466.

The Suva consular district, one of the largest in the U.S. Foreign Service, covers four states and three French territories and about 4 million square miles of mostly ocean. Slightly over a million people reside in the district. In addition to Fiji, the Embassy handles consular diplomatic and/or consular relations with Tuvalu, Nauru, the Kingdom of Tonga and the French territories of French Polynesia, New Caledonia, and Wallis and Futuna.

The Embassy is staffed by 12 Americans assigned from Washington. These include the Ambassador, DCM, Defense Attach‚, DAO operations officer, political/economic officer, commercial/consular officer, administrative officer, regional security officer, general services officer, consul, vice consul and a temporary FBO officer who oversees the construction of the addition to the Chancery. The GSO is responsible for all ISO duties. Spouses and local-hire Americans serve as PIT secretary, consular PIT, IMS specialist, CLO and Embassy nurse.

The Embassy has 30 Foreign Service national employees. The R&R point for Suva is Sydney, Australia, although employees can opt to travel to the U.S. west coast.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:34 PM

New arrivals not able to move directly into permanent quarters are booked into a hotel near the Embassy. However, every effort is made to move newly arrived staff directly into their permanent quarters.

Permanent Housing Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:35 PM

The Ambassador’s residence is Government-owned and located in the Muanikau area on Ratu Sukuna Road. The house is an attractive one-level home with a beautifully landscaped lawn and garden. It is entirely furnished with government-owned furniture.

The Embassy maintains short-term leases on houses for all other American personnel. Houses, scattered throughout the city and nearby suburbs, tend to be new with three to four bedrooms and two to three baths. Separate quarters for servants are almost always available. Some of the houses have in-ground swimming pools.

Furnishings Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:38 PM

All leased quarters have basic furnishings: furniture, stove, refrigerator, washer and dryer, microwave, water filter, vacuum cleaner, deep freezer and lawn mowers. Window or split-unit air-conditioners for occupied bedrooms and living rooms are provided as available, as are dehumidifiers.

As at most posts, individuals assigned to Suva should bring decorative objects to personalize their houses. Care should be taken in bringing any personal possessions that may be affected by high humidity. Curtains are provided. Most residences have area carpets.

Personnel assigned to Suva can anticipate a 2- to 4-month wait for sea-freight shipments. Air freight generally arrives quickly.

Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:39 PM

Water quality is generally good but may decline with excessive rain, breaks in the water main or disruption in treatment schedules. Therefore, one water-distilling system is provided to each staff residence. Some quarters have central hot-water heaters; others have separate heaters in the kitchen and bathrooms. In either case, hot water is adequate. Electricity is relatively reliable, though current can fluctuate, and outages do occur. Current is 220v-240v, 50 Hz, AC. Electrical outlets are three-pronged, and adapters are available locally. The post provides 2 or 3 transformers to each residence. Transformers are available locally but are expensive. Bring small appliances that will run on 50 Hz current

Food Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:40 PM

Embassy Suva has no commissary and is not a consumables post. Frozen, fresh and canned foods from Australia and New Zealand are available in a reasonable variety and regular supply. The American store Cost-U-Less provides a limited selection of American products. Food supplies are not as varied or of the quality found in the U.S. The cost of living, including food prices, is higher than in Washington, D.C.

Seasonal tropical fresh vegetables and fruits are plentiful and excellent. Temperate-zone fruits such as apples, pears and oranges, and vegetables such as broccoli, celery, beets and leeks are imported and usually available, though expensive.

Baby food is available, but of poor quality. Bring a blender or food grinder to provide for your baby’s needs. Australian, but not U.S., formulas are available. Sterilized and pasteurized milk is available, as is powdered milk. Butter and cream are also available. Locally produced sour cream, cottage cheese, and yogurt are available. Eggs are plentiful. American coffee is readily available, either ground or instant, but expensive. Australian coffee in instant form is readily available and is comparable in price to U.S. coffee.

Most beef and all pork sold in Fiji are locally produced and are acceptable. Imported beef, lamb and veal are also available, but are expensive. Fresh fish, sweet-water crabs, clams and smoked fish are sold in the central market and specialized stores. Local frozen poultry is available and reasonably priced. Frozen turkeys and fresh and frozen local fish are available.

Embassy personnel on the diplomatic list can buy liquor in case-lots duty-free from bonded stocks. Most types of liquor, as well as imported wines and beer, are available. Many people buy the locally produced beer, which is excellent. Locally bottled (under franchise arrangements) soft drinks and mixers are good. Australian- and U.S.-produced diet beverages are available in limited quantity and are expensive.

The traditional Fijian diet — different from what most Americans are used to — consists mainly of starchy root crops, green leafy vegetables, seafood and coconut products. Fresh ingredients for Chinese and Indian dishes are available.

Clothing Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:43 PM

Clothing in Fiji is more expensive and generally of poorer quality than clothing bought in the U.S. Plan to bring most of what you will need. Dress is casual. At work women wear lightweight dresses or blouses and skirts. Men wear long trousers and short or long-sleeved shirts. Official functions are usually designated “Bula” (the Fijian word for hello) at which men wear long trousers and a colorful short-sleeved island shirt (readily available locally). Women dress smartly, but casually, and seldom wear pants. At more formal functions, men wear a shirt and tie while women wear simple evening or cocktail dresses. Periodically, the Ambassador or other officers will be invited to attend a function for which lounge suits are specified. Perhaps two events a year, usually only involving the Ambassador, require formal wear. Hats are rarely worn and are never required, since neither Fijian nor Indian women wear hats as part of their dress. (Traditionally, Fijians regard the head as sacred and refrain from touching the head of another person or putting anything on their own.) Women, however, are expected to wear hat and gloves when calling on the King of Tonga. Ambassadors wear a morning suit to meet the King, which they usually rent from New Zealand.

Dressmakers are inexpensive by U.S. standards and have a good selection of fabrics, but the quality of the work is variable. If you sew, bring your sewing machine. The climate necessitates frequent changes of clothing. Therefore, the most suitable type of clothing for both men and women is that which is cool, e.g., cotton, and easily washable. Drycleaning facilities and adequate laundry facilities are available, but quality varies. Cardigan sweaters are useful in the evening during cooler months, or when attending air-conditioned movie theaters and restaurants.

Infants’ clothing is available, but is of limited variety. A dressmaker can sew satisfactory children’s clothing, which can be supplemented by clothes ordered from the U.S. Schoolchildren wear uniforms made locally.

Bring an adequate supply of shoes for your tour. Shoes available locally are of poor quality and often do not fit well. This is especially true of sport shoes. In deciding on quantity, bear in mind that with frequent rainy days, shoes will wear out more rapidly than they would in a drier climate. Fair-quality children’s sandals are available locally; the International School uniform specifies black sandals.

Also bring non-tropical clothing for travel to New Zealand, Australia or back to the U.S. on R&R or business. Heavy winter clothing will not be used here and, if possible, should be left in storage in a drier area, where there will be less chance of damage by climate or insects.

Most personnel acclimatize quickly to Fiji’s relatively warm winters. The first year, particularly for those who arrive during June, July, and August, winter seems balmy. By the second year, after a tropical summer, one actually feels cool in the evenings and a sweater or windbreaker-type jacket and a blanket on the bed can be most welcome.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:44 PM

The larger local stores stock adequate supplies and varieties of toiletries and cosmetics, but prices are higher than in the U.S. and American products are usually not available. Bring a supply of your favorite toothpaste, shampoo and cosmetics, as they may not be available locally. Several drug stores in the Washington, D.C. area will ship such items via pouch.

Most household items are sold locally at much higher prices than in the U.S. Dishes, glassware, cookware, and plastic and paper products are expensive and of poor quality by U.S. standards. Many people include such items in their sea freight shipment. If you have children, bring a supply of toys, including some gifts, since those available locally are expensive and of limited supply and variety. Many people use mail-order catalogs to purchase such items. Gift wrap paper and cards are also in short supply and very expensive.

Baby bottles, disposable diapers and other infant supplies are stocked, but cost much more than American equivalents. American-made bottles and nipples are not sold in Fiji.

A large range of Japanese and some European electronic and photographic equipment is available locally. American TVs and VCRs, which are formatted in the NTSC system, will not receive local TV broadcasts or play local videotapes, which are formatted in the PAL system. Some people overcome this problem by purchasing multi-system TVs and VCRs, but they are expensive. Video cassettes (in the PAL system) can be rented at local shops. However, such tapes are often of very poor quality, which may damage or reduce the life span of your VCR. Generally, VHS tapes are more widely used than Beta. Many 240v household appliances, ranging from mixers and food processors to washing machines and microwave ovens, are available in Suva but are more expensive than those available in the U.S. The CLO maintains a small videotape library in the NTSC format.

Basic Services Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:45 PM

In addition to garbage collection, the Suva City Council provides grass-mowing services, garden debris removal and drain cleaning services along the roads. Drycleaning and shoe repair services are available. Routine electrical, plumbing and mechanical repairs are adequate. With auto repairs, some patience is required. Barbers and beauticians are inexpensive and adequate.

Domestic Help Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:46 PM

Well-trained domestics are hard to find. Most Embassy households have one maid, though families with several small children may find an additional one useful. Many hire a local gardener two to four times a month to mow the lawn and maintain the yard, which can get overgrown quickly in the tropical climate. Cooks are difficult to find, but most servants can prepare breakfast and lunch if they are sufficiently trained. Most live-in maids prefer to cook their own meals and will often ask to install a small stove in their quarters. As a fire prevention measure, the Embassy recommends (and many leases require) an electric rather than a gas appliance. You may wish to ship a 220V hot plate for this purpose, or purchase one locally.

Most servants are paid about F$60–$90 per week (current rate of exchange is about F$2.10 = US$1.00), plus quarters. They work a 5, 5½, or 6-day week, with 2–4 hours off in the middle of the day.

Domestics need at least some training to ensure that they understand what you want them to do. Most local maids are happy to take care of children, but training is required in this area as well. Servants are often “inherited” from previous Embassy staff members, which may solve the question of trustworthiness and save the trouble and effort of training a new employee.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:46 PM

English-language services are held in many Suva churches, including Anglican (Episcopal), Wesleyan, Seventh-Day Adventist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Latter-Day Saints, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic and the Assembly of God. Most churches have charitable organizations affiliated with them. Hinduism, Islam, and other world religions are also represented in Fiji. Suva has a small Jewish community. However, no synagogue exists.


Dependent Education

At Post Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:48 PM Suva has several pre-schools or kindergartens that take children from age 3 for 3 to 5 days a week, 4–6 hours per day. Fees are reasonable and the preschool training appears to be adequate.

Most Mission children attend the International School of Suva (ISS), which encompasses both elementary and secondary levels. Preschool classes opened in 1996–97. The school offers the International Baccalaureate Program. ISS is accredited by ECIS, the European Council of International Schools. It is not accredited by any American association.

Other Suva schools that might be considered minimally adequate at the elementary level include Yatsen School (run by the Chinese community), the Catholic Stella Maris and Marist Brothers Schools, the government-operated Suva Grammar School (grade 4 through high school), and the Holy Trinity Anglican Primary School.

Schools in Fiji other than the ISS are very crowded. All schools maintain strict teacher-pupil ratios and cannot guarantee places. Personnel should advise the Embassy as early as possible of their educational preferences so that their children’s names may be submitted for placement.

Schools in Fiji, like those in many other southern hemisphere countries, begin their school year at the end of January and end in November. ISS divides terms into quarters. For others, the school year is divided into three terms. Summer vacation occurs from the end of November through the end of January.

Away From Post Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:48 PM The Department has declared local education in grades 9 to 12 inadequate and has established a scale of allowances for education away from post. Honolulu has adequate boarding schools that are only a few hours’ flying time from Suva. Also, employees may consider boarding schools in Australia, which is even closer to Fiji. Several Embassy families currently send their children to ISS for grades 9 to 12. Personnel assigned here may wish to seek further details regarding the pros and cons of opting for local education.

The Embassy has a resource library with college catalogs and information on standardized tests. It also has access to the Internet. In 1999 a PIT staff position, currently unfilled, was established to provide educational consulting and college preparatory information.

Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:51 PM

The University of the South Pacific (USP) began offering undergraduate degree courses in 1969. In the mid-1970s, it established master’s and doctoral programs. These programs are available to the 11 member countries and have recently become available to overseas graduate students, including Fulbright grantees from the U.S. From an academic point of view, families with college-age children would be wise to have them study outside Fiji, since USP’s methods and standards of instructions differ significantly from those of U.S. colleges and USP degrees are not easily recognized in the U.S.

The University’s Extension Service offers a variety of academic, cultural and practical courses for those working full-time, as well as students who cannot enroll for residential or part-time studies. Employees and adult dependents may participate in day or evening classes in Pacific cultures and languages. The USP Extension Service, with French and Japanese Government sponsorship, offers language-training programs. The Fiji Institute of Technology (FIT) offers some evening courses.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:53 PM

The people of Fiji are keen sportsmen and women, and there are many sporting activities available. However, sporting goods, clothes and shoes are expensive and sometimes unavailable. Bring them with you or plan to purchase them from the States through mail-order catalogs.

Boating and water sports enthusiast will find Suva’s waters and boating facilities quite good, weather permitting. The lack of beaches in the Suva area makes ownership of a small boat attractive. Small sailboats and motorboats made locally are available at prices higher than those in the U.S. The local purchase of an imported boat is expensive because of high customs duties. Motors, fishing tackle, and snorkeling, scuba, and water-skiing equipment are available in limited range and at high prices. Motorboats and snorkeling gear can be rented. Deep-sea fishing is available, but expensive. Fresh water fishing is possible along the interior rivers, but you will need a guide.

Scuba diving is popular in Fiji with two active dive clubs organizing day and weekend trips. Commercial dive operators offer trips near Suva, at several island resorts and on live-aboard and charter dive vessels. U.S.-recognized instruction is offered in Suva and at some resorts. Fiji’s coral reefs are among the world’s most beautiful. Dive sites range from shallow coral gardens suitable for beginners to challenging open water diving that will satisfy the most experienced hard-core fanatic. The omnipresent sharks are well-fed and generally non-aggressive; most divers quickly get used to their presence. A limited selection of equipment is stocked locally, but prices are higher than U.S. levels. It is best to bring all equipment, including at least two tanks per diver. Underwater photographers should bring all their own gear. Diving safety standards in Fiji are reasonable, but the generally low standard of medical care and transport renders any accident more serious than in the U.S. or the Caribbean. There is only one decompression chamber in the country, located in the city of Suva.

Golf is a popular sport in both the expatriate and local communities. Suva has an 18-hole golf course at the Fiji Golf Club, which is only 10 minutes from the Embassy. The course condition is poor, especially due to frequent rain, but playable and very convenient. Membership is relatively inexpensive; as of September 2000 it was US$150 per year. A Robert Trent-Jones designed championship course (that is also frequently wet) is available at Pacific Harbour, about 30 miles west of Suva. Annual fees there are US$140 per couple and US$93 per individual member. The best course in Fiji of international standard is located at the Sheraton Denarau Resort near Nadi, about 3 hours by car from Suva. Membership there is more expensive, at about US$925 per year, which allows a maximum of 60 games annually. Carts are not available at the Suva course. Golf equipment is sold locally, but selection is limited and expensive so bring your own. Membership is not required to play at any of Fiji’s courses. Green fees are reasonable by American standards, as are caddie fees.

Other popular sports are squash, tennis and lawn bowling. Tennis is very accessible and popular. Both lawn and synthetic courts are available. Local selection of tennis and squash equipment is limited, so bring your own. Two health/exercise clubs are available: Polaris and the Rabuka Gym. Employees are eligible to join local clubs at reasonable annual fees. Suva has an Olympic-sized pool, though water quality can be a problem. An organized swimming club for children meets at the pool and swimming lessons for both children and adults are offered periodically.

Spectator sports include soccer, cricket, rugby, volleyball and basketball. The Royal Suva Yacht Club, for which membership is open to the Embassy staff, hosts powerboat and sailing races in season.

No hunting is done in Fiji. See Firearms and Ammunition.

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:55 PM

Suva’s small Fiji Museum, located in Thurston Gardens (the local botanical garden) has good Fiji and South Pacific ethnographic collections. Orchid Island, west of Suva, and the Fiji Cultural Center at Pacific Harbour also offer interesting glimpses of traditional Fijian village life, handicraft making and traditional ceremonies. Fijians make decorative woodbark cloth with geometric designs called “Masi” (Tapa). They also are accomplished at wood carving and mat weaving.

Fiji has a very well developed tourism sector. Information on services and facilities is readily available. Cruises to the outer island of the Fiji group can be arranged at reasonable cost on small inter-island vessels that service the country. These trips can take from several days to one or several weeks, with stops at many small copra loading points. Long weekend or holiday trips to the beaches and hotels on the southwest coast of Viti Levu can provide a pleasant break from Suva’s more urban atmosphere. Hiking is possible along a nature trail, with waterfalls at Colo-i-Suva just 7 kilometers from the city, though crime has been a problem at times. “Blue Lagoon” cruises to the Yasawa Islands northwest of Viti Levu, a stay at the off-island resorts in the Yasawas, or a weekend at Toberua Island near Suva can give comfortable exposure to the traditional idyllic South Pacific island image. Rivers Fiji offers river rafting and kayaking as well as sea kayaking. There are a number of eco-tourism opportunities. Embassy staff members are generally offered the “local” rate for many tourist activities, which can reduce the price considerably.

Entertainment Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:57 PM

For many, the great drawback to living in Suva, aside from the frequent rain and the isolation of island life, is the relative lack of cultural, social, intellectual or simply diverting activities for a person who is not sports-minded. The Fiji Arts Council sponsors performances by touring artists, usually under the auspices of other governments, but they are very infrequent. The drama group of the Fiji Arts Club puts on several productions each year utilizing local dramatic talent. Other sections of the club offer arts and crafts, photography, music and dance. The fine arts group organizes shows of members’ work.

The American Women’s Association holds monthly luncheons for its members, frequent social events for couples and holiday parties for children. In addition the International Women’s Association has a monthly morning tea with a speaker; the Corona Society does many good works; and the Rucksack Club sponsors several trips each month to explore Fiji’s interior, coastline and islands.

One six-screen, very modern multiplex cinema theater and three other movie theaters in Suva show European, American, and Hindi films. Movies often reach Suva within a couple of weeks of release in the U.S., especially if they are action flicks. Movie prices are low (about US$2.25).

Dining in Suva is improving, but is limited by its population. There are several good Chinese restaurants, an excellent Indian restaurant and a very good Japanese restaurant. There are also several restaurants offering good Continental cuisine. Several establishments offer good seafood and a number of small pizza restaurants and snack bars exist. The pizza is very mediocre. Those who travel to Tahiti or New Caledonia can enjoy good French cuisine.

Rock and reggae music are popular in Suva, with a number of good local bands. Two of the town’s several discos are upscale enough to be widely patronized by government officials and expatriates. Hotels occasionally hold “island night” dances with live bands. Urban Fijians have carried their traditional love of music and dancing into the city with them, making the nightclub scene surprisingly lively.

Fijian rituals are often colorful. The best known is the fire-walking ceremony of the islanders of Beqa (pronounced Bengga). The “Meke” (traditional dancing and singing) is performed occasionally at Suva hotels and regularly at the larger coastal resorts. Indians also perform ritual fire walking, but this is more religious in nature.

Photography is a popular hobby in Suva and several well-stocked photography stores exist. Film is expensive to purchase and develop here. Black-and-white film and color prints can be processed in Suva at costs much higher than the U.S. Bird-watching is also a popular hobby in Fiji because of the many varieties of birds that flourish in the islands.

The larger towns in Fiji celebrate various festivals. Suva hosts the week-long Hibiscus Festival in August, which includes parades and native dances. Similar events on a smaller scale are held in Lautoka, Nadi, and Sigatoka.

Using a camera at Fijian events is permitted but requires some care. Fijians can become upset if amateur photographers disrupt the dignity of their traditional ceremonies. Standing up, even in front of your seat, is particularly frowned upon. You may take as many pictures as you wish from a seated position.

Social Activities

Among Americans Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:58 PM Since the American community is small, few social activities are planned exclusively for Americans. The American Women’s Association sponsors some activities and a fair amount of non-representational entertaining is done by individuals.

International Contacts Last Updated: 1/15/2004 1:59 PM Clubs play an important part in the social life of many local residents. A few clubs are for men only, with an occasional day when women are permitted. Others are essentially private drinking clubs. Except for a few hotel cocktail lounges and some squalid public bars, the bars of the various clubs are the center of much of the local social life, especially for men. Most of the sporting clubs (open to women) have a yearly formal or semi-formal dance and occasional “island night” dances. Hobby-oriented clubs, such as the shell collectors club, hiking clubs, diving clubs, etc., offer opportunities for social contacts outside the Embassy community.

The Fiji Women’s Club offers a wide selection of social and volunteer activities and international contacts for women. Singles mix with colleagues from other missions and USP.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 1/15/2004 2:00 PM

Official social life consists mostly of cocktail parties and dinners given by government officials, the diplomatic community and local business people. Size of cocktail parties can run from 20 to 600 guests at functions such as national day receptions, Christmas receptions, etc. Some social functions also involve traditional Fijian ceremonies. Official functions are often held on weeknights; cocktail parties are usually scheduled from 6:30 to 8:30. Little entertaining takes place on Sundays.

Fifteen countries maintain embassies in Suva, including the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, France, Japan, India, China, Malaysia, Korea and a number of island states. The EU also has a delegation. Another 30 or so countries, including Canada and Russia, maintain diplomatic relations with Fiji through nonresident Ambassadors. Most of these are accredited from Canberra or Wellington.

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 1/15/2004 2:01 PM

Officers are expected to accept all official engagements that do not conflict with prior engagements. The usual customs prevail with respect to attendance and helping out at official functions at the residence. Officers assigned to Suva do a fair amount of official and semi-official entertaining.

Dress for most social functions is informal or “bula,” meaning cotton slacks and sports shirt for men, and dresses for women. Flowered tropical prints are commonly worn by both men and women. Women do not usually wear slacks or skirts above the knee at social functions in Suva. A few events require coat and tie for men, notably the annual Queen’s Birthday party at the British Embassy and most functions hosted by the President of the Republic. Tuxedos are worn only on rare occasions. “Red Sea Rig” (black trousers, formal shirt, and red bow tie and cummerbund) is worn for formal events at some clubs, notably the Royal Suva Yacht Club. The red tie and cummerbund can be obtained locally.

The Ambassador makes initial calls on the President, Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers and heads of diplomatic missions and international organizations. The DCM and other officers make initial calls as appropriate to the position; no fixed protocol exists. Officers should have their business cards made up in the U.S. if possible, as local printing is expensive. The spouse of the Ambassador may call on the spouses of other chiefs of mission, but other spouses have no official call responsibilities.

Special Information Last Updated: 1/15/2004 2:01 PM

Post Orientation Program

Orientation is handled by the CLO, with staff members and their families serving as sponsors for new arrivals. English is the working language of Fiji, but officers and spouses will find a basic working knowledge of Fijian or Hindi helpful in non-official and household situations. Although the post has no language program, private lessons with native-speaking instructors can be arranged at reasonable costs.

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 1/15/2004 2:05 PM

Embassy staff assigned to post do not need visas to enter Fiji. Upon receipt of arrival information, the Embassy will notify the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) so that a tourist visa will be issued to the arriving employee at the airport. An official resident permit will be procured by the Administrative Section from MFA shortly after arrival. Keep a copy of your orders handy and inform the post in a timely manner of your date of arrival. Immigration officers in Fiji are familiar with this exemption, but airline representatives outside Fiji are not. In the unlikely event that you experience any difficulties with passenger agents outside Fiji, an airline telex message to Nadi International Airport should clear up the problem. U.S. tourists do not need visas for stays of less than 4 months, but need onward tickets and sufficient funds for their stay.

Personnel normally arrive in Fiji by air from Los Angeles or Hawaii, go through immigration and customs at Nadi and take a domestic Air Fiji or Sun Air flight to Suva’s Nausori Airport. Please note that there is no inter-airline baggage transfer at the international arrivals hall. You will need to push your baggage to the departure hall to check in for your domestic flight, a distance of perhaps 200 yards. Carts are readily available. (When you exit the international arrivals hall, ask how to get to the departure area.) Be prepared to pay for excess baggage on the domestic flight, since local airlines limit free checked luggage to 20 kg. (44 lbs.). The charge in September 2000 was F$1.40 per kg. (US$.32 per lb.) and is a reimbursable expense. Some may opt to travel via taxi or van from Nadi to Suva. The scenic trip along the coast usually takes about 3 hours, but employees are strongly discouraged from traveling at night on this road because of the danger of wandering livestock. New arrivals are met at Nausori.

No special currency regulations affect Foreign Service personnel. U.S. currency is freely accepted in Fiji banks.

Since it may take some time before you receive your salary payments from Bangkok, bring enough funds to last for the first month or two at post. Employees whose salaries are deposited directly into their accounts in the U.S. normally do not have any problems.

Officers coming through Hawaii should inform the Embassy in advance so that arrangements can be made for consultations at INS Honolulu, CINCPAC, the East-West Center and/or other appropriate offices in Honolulu. The East-West Center is involved in cultural exchange programs in the area and certain Embassy officers may have considerable contact with programs and personnel of the Center. In Hawaii, you may wish to visit the Polynesian Cultural Center at Laie and the Bishop Museum, which have excellent displays and programs on Pacific Island cultures.

All shipments, whether freight or mail, should be addressed to employees and not to dependents.

It is relatively easy to import pets from Australia, New Zealand or England. For pets originating from other countries, the procedures can be extremely cumbersome and expensive, e.g. long-term quarantine in England and Australia, or 6 months of quarantine in Hawaii, to be followed by 3-month quarantine in Fiji. However, a recent arrival’s positive dealing with the Quarantine Department indicated that there has been a change in policy, resulting in less restrictive procedures. Post has recently obtained confirmation of these new procedures from the Quarantine Department. Depending on the type of pets, quarantine restrictions differ. Generally, however, importation requirements of dogs and cats originating from the mainland U.S. are:

Directly from mainland U.S.: 3 months of quarantine in Fiji.

Via Hawaii: one month of quarantine in Hawaii, followed by 1 month of quarantine in Fiji. Nonetheless, the process remains protracted and complicated, therefore, newly-assigned employees are advised to contact the Administrative Office early so that the application/approval/certification process may be completed in time for the employee’s travel to post. The following breeds of dogs are prohibited from importation into Fiji: Dogo argentino, fila brazileiro, Japanese tosa, pit bull terriers (including American pit bull terriers), rottweilers, staffordshire terriers or crosses of any of the above.

Please contact the Admin or CLO Office for information on other restrictions and prohibitions.

Customs, Duties, and Passage Last Updated: 1/15/2004 2:06 PM

Free-entry privileges are granted to all Embassy staff members for items imported at time of arrival and also for later shipments designated specifically for personal use by employees on the diplomatic list. Cars of Embassy staff may also be imported duty free. Care must be taken in the selection of dry/canned food to be shipped to post, as all HHE/UAB shipments are inspected by Quarantine agents during unpacking at employee residences. In general, non-meat foodstuffs from the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand are allowed. However, meat and dairy products (canned or otherwise) from the U.S. may be prohibited entry into Fiji and seized. It is recommended that you avoid packing such items. Unpolished, unpainted, untreated or unvarnished cane/rattan items also may be prohibited entry.

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 1/15/2004 2:06 PM

The importation of firearms is prohibited. No exceptions are made.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 1/15/2004 2:13 PM

The official unit of currency in Fiji is the Fiji dollar. One U.S. dollar in September 2000 equaled Fiji dollar 2.10. The rate is determined daily and fluctuates slightly. Fiji currency is divided into cents, with 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 cent and 1 dollar coins; and 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 dollar notes.

Many commercial banks in Suva maintain exchange facilities. Personal Fiji dollar checks may be cashed at any of these banks and will be accepted at most Fiji hotels and shops. U.S. dollar traveler’s checks and greenbacks may be used to purchase Fiji dollars at any of the exchange facilities. Some Embassy personnel maintain local currency checking accounts. The ANZ Bank, which maintains the Embassy account, will accept personal U.S. dollar checks for Embassy personnel. The Embassy Cashier provides an accommodation exchange service to U.S. employees and their spouses.

Fiji uses the metric system of weights and measures. Gasoline is bought by the liter, and the temperature is measured in Celsius.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 1/15/2004 2:14 PM

All purchases in Fiji, including those of diplomatic personnel, are subject to a 10% value added tax (VAT) placed on all goods and services. Spouses and dependents working in the local economy must pay highly graduated income taxes. Embassy staff pay a small fee for a driving learners’ permit (if one is required). Staff on the diplomatic list do not pay auto registration fees, but non-diplomatic staff pay this fee (about F$35).

Taxes are not imposed on resale of personal property, including cars, though customs duties on the current value at the time of resale must be paid.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 1/15/2004 2:15 PM

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Adrian. Peasants in the Pacific: A Study of Fiji Indian Rural Society.

Brown, Stanley. Men From Under the Sky.

Derric, R. A. A History of Fiji.

—Suva: Colony of Fiji.

Lonely Planet Publication. Fiji, Travel Survival Kit.

Oliver, D. The Pacific Islands. Honolulu: University of Hawaii.

Nayacakalou, R. R. Leadership in Fiji. Oxford: Oxford Press.

—“Tradition and Change in the Fijian Village Suva.” Fiji Times.

Pacific Islands Year Book.

Ratu, Sir Rabuka, Sitiveni, Autobiography—No Other Way.

Ratu, Sir Kamisese Mara. The Pacific Way. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

Siers, James. Fiji in Color.

—Fiji Celebration. London: Collins.

Shapham (editor). Rabuka of Fiji. Central Queensland University.

Tarte, Daryl. Island of the Frigate Birds (Mostly about Banaba and Nauru).

Tompson, Peter. Kava in the Blood.

Trumbul, R. Tin Roofs and Palm Trees. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

Williams, Thomas. Fiji and the Fijian. Fiji Museum, Suva.

Local Holidays Last Updated: 1/15/2004 2:16 PM

Except for New Year’s, Christmas, Boxing Day and Diwali, Fiji’s holidays are observed on Mondays or Fridays with a change in dates annually. Local holidays are as follows:

New Year’s Day January 1 National Youth Day Feb/March (Varies) Good Friday April (Varies) Easter Monday April (Varies) Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna Day 4th Monday in May Queen’s Birthday 2nd Monday in June Constitution Day 4th Monday in July Prophet Mohammed’s Birthday June/July (Varies) Fiji Day 2nd Monday in October Diwali Oct/Nov (Varies) Christmas Day December 25 Boxing Day December 26

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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