The Fiji Islands lie midway between Samoa and New Caledonia. They comprise the two large islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, the lesser islands of Taveuni and Kandavu, and nearly 260 small islands, mostly in the Lau group, to the southeast of Vanua Levu. The total land area is 7055 square miles, of which Viti Levu occupies 4053 square miles and Vanua Levu 2137 square miles. Only about 100 of the islands are inhabited. Fiji has been a British colony since 1874.
The rocks of Fiji represent a longer period of geological history than those of most Pacific islands and include a great variety of formations. They include rocks of metamorphic and volcanic origin; some of the volcanic rocks were formed above the sea and others laid down below sea level. The topography, in general fairly rugged, includes mountains of moderate height. There are several large rivers and many smaller streams.
Gold is found in association with a type of crystalline rock called porphyritic andesite on Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. Gold mining began in 1932, and the extraction of this metal now ranks second to sugar among exports of the islands. Most of the production has come from three mines in the Tavua district on Viti Levu.
The climate of Fiji, generally hot and rainy, is favorable to the growth of heavy forests, which occupy a large part of the interior and include both hardwoods and softwoods. One of these, dakua, resembles the kauri of New Zealand, and another, buabua, is widely utilized for house posts because of its extreme durability.