Viti Levu, Fiji group

Viti Levu comprises more than half the area of the Fiji group, and, though smaller than Hawaii or New Caledonia, is one of the larger islands in the Pacific. The island has four types of surface features: (1) the high central Rairaimatuku plateau, (2) the mountain ranges, (3) large areas of hilly uplands, much dissected by rivers, and (4) the coastal areas, consisting of low-lying plains near the coast, the deltas of the principal rivers, and low rounded hills farther inland. The largest river, the Rewa, near Suva, is navigable for 60 miles, and drains one-third of the island. Its floodplain and portions of the delta are devoted to sugar cane. The coast is surrounded by an extensive barrier reef, linked by patches of detached coral reefs to the reefs of neighboring islands. Viti Levu has more than two-thirds of the total population of the group.

Suva, capital of Fiji, and seat of the High Commissioner for the Western Pacific, is situated on a reef-locked and sheltered harbor in the southeast of Viti Levu. It is a cosmopolitan city, and with its suburbs has a population of about 77,000, including Europeans, Indians, and Fijians. It was the development of cotton growing, now replaced by sugar, in the Rewa valley from 1860 onwards that drew attention to the advantages of Suva, and in 1882 the capital was moved there from Levuka. The town extends inland from the wharves; the business section adjoins the waterfront and the residential section for Europeans is situated on higher ground. Suva is the most important of the three ports of entry of Fiji. The great majority of overseas vessels call at Suva even if they also visit Lautoka, on the northern coast of Viti Levu, or Levuka, on the small island of Ovalau. Exports and imports of Suva are over half the total trade of the colony, almost all the remainder going through the port of Lautoka. Vessels calling at Fiji include cargo steamers to carry away sugar and copra, liners, and oil tankers. Smaller boats handle the inter-island trade with other Fijian Islands and the Tonga group. Air connections are offered to Hawaii, North America, New Zealand, and Australia. From Suva a highway makes a circuit of the island and narrow-gauge railways serve the sugar industry. Suva has several educational institutions, an experiment station devoted to tropical agriculture, hotels, churches, and a variety of business establishments, including sawmills, a soap factory, and coconut-oil mill.

No comments: