Fiji’s current population is around 800,000 people. It has the most people in the South Pacific region. Fiji society is a melting pot of different cultures, with indigenous Fijians accounting for more than half of the population. Fiji is home to approximately 40% Indians, the majority of whom are Hindus and Muslims. The Polynesian Rotumans, Tuvaluans, and Banabans are ethnic minorities that make up a small percentage of the Fijian population. There are also a few people of European and Chinese ancestry.
The indigenous Fijians live a traditional way of life. The chief holds the highest rank in the village’s hierarchical system. The chief is in charge of the clan-occupied village land. The chief’s and his family’s authority is passed down from generation to generation. Common village people make no decisions about what happens in their village. Even visitors must first ask to see the village chief and obtain his permission before entering a village.
When a villager leaves to work in the city or in another country, his or her ties to the village remain intact. Those who remain in the village expect the individual to provide financial assistance not only to their families but also to the village. Many Fijians continue to practice their traditions to this day, but some, particularly the younger generation exposed to Western cultures, are finding it difficult.
Indians, also known as Fiji-Indians, are the descendants of field workers brought over by the British in the 1800s to work on sugar cane plantations. After their labor contracts expired, the Indians relocated to Fiji, where they now dominate the business sector, particularly the sugarcane industry.
The Rotumans hail from the Fijian province of Rotuma. Rotumans have a distinct culture and way of life from the indigenous Fijians. The Rotuman family structure is diametrically opposed to that of the indigenous Fijians. Individual families live in separate houses, and unlike in native Fiji villages, Rotuma village chiefs and clans have less influence over the people’s lives. Rotumans hold their women in higher regard. Rotuman women are also primary caregivers and decision-makers in their families. Rotumans are people who enjoy having fun.