Fiji is still one of the happiest countries in the world with 89% of Fijians reporting they are happy. So what is it that makes the Fijians smile so much? Is it the ‘fiji time’, the kava or the climate?
Here’s 10 initial reasons to help us all understand why they’ve consistently got it so good.
1. There’s blazing colour everywhere
With a richness of greens in the landscapes, shallow lagoons crowned with colourful reefs and tropical fish and the bright oranges of ripe mangos and papayas, Fiji flaunts all the feel-good colors. Everywhere you turn there’s something colourful to make you smile.
2. Fiji time
No watch? No problem. No one hurries in Fiji. When plans are delayed, things don’t go as expected or something just slipped up somehow, people don’t worry or dwell, chances are they’ll take a nap, chat with a friend or have another bowl of kava.
3. Fresh food
Fiji is known to have some of the best food in the South Pacific thanks to the Indian, Southeast Asian and Chinese influences blended with Melanesian staples like taro, tropical fruits, coconut, pork and seafood. Because it’s expensive to import food, much of what’s available is local, fresh and there’s an evolving organic kitchen garden movement from the individual level to villages and resorts.
4. The Climate
With balmy temperatures hovering between 26 and 31 degrees Celsius (79 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit) all year round few complain of the cold in Fiji. Clothes are needed for modesty only and life happens mostly outdoors.
Fiji has a very tight-knit society that is mostly village based. Even the cities feel small and aunts, uncles and cousins are likely to live in the same neighborhood. The bond between people and the support they offer each other is palpable. Perhaps it’s this solid base that makes Fijians so friendly and welcoming to visitors.
6. The power of Kava
Pass through any village in Fiji and you’ll find locals gathered around sipping kava – the milk-like liquid from half coconut bowls (bilo). Said to have calming effects and to help create a sense of well-being, this ceremonial narcotic might account for the concept of ‘Fiji time’ and the slow, relaxed pace of the islanders.
7. Music for the soul
No one is going to be playing anything too serious or sad, rather you’ll be hearing fast paced Fijian tunes or upbeat Western favorites. And with daily occurrences like the locals forming choirs and beautifully serenading guests in hotels it’s hard not to be moved by the power and emotion of song in Fiji.
Fijian culture itself holds many traditions. Sevusevu, whereby a visitor presents the village elder kava root, then it’s served in a traditional ceremony, is deeply important. When walking through villages it’s imperative to wear a sulu (sarong) to cover the legs, shoulders and upper bodies should be covered and no one should carry a bag from a shoulder strap or wear a hat. While all this sounds complicated, these rules show respect for the community and inspire unity.
The majority of the remaining islanders are Indo-Fijians of Indian heritage but Chinese, Southeast Asians, European, and other Melanesians and Polynesians (from elsewhere in the Pacific) have settled here. Like in any society, a mix of cultures doesn’t make for perfect harmony, but it keeps things interesting. If variety is the spice of life, Fiji is a fiery hot curry.
Fiji has had a rocky political past and only recently held open democratic elections again after a coup in 2006. But even at its most tense, serious violence has not been an issue here and the current situation appears to be solid.
Flying to Fiji
The F$40 international departure tax is included in ticket prices.
Do you agree Fiji is still one of the world’s happiest countries?
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