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Governor, Chief Justice, and Commander-in-Chief
Assistant Colonial Surgeon and Public Vaccinator,
Police Magistrate, Coroner, Registrar General and
Schoolmaster, F. Durose, 1707. and fees.
Presbyterian Minister, the Rev. W. H. Philip, 1007.
Situation and Area.
The Colony of Fiji comprises the islands lying between latitude 15° and 22° S. and between longitude 177° West and 175° East. It is distant fron. Sydney about 1,900 miles, and from Auckland 1,200 miles. The Tongan or Friendly Islands lie 180 miles to the south-east, and Samoa 500 miles to the north-east. The French colony of New Caledonia lies to the westward about 700 miles. The number of islands has been variously stated at from 200 to 250; but this includes mere uninhabited rocks and islets.
The principal inhabited islands are Viti Levu, 4,112 square miles, Vanua Levu, 2,432 square miles, Taviuni, 217 square miles, Kadavu, 124 square miles, Koro, 58 square miles, Gau, 45 square miles, and Ovalau, 43 square miles. The total area of the Colony (including Rotumah, 14 square miles) is 7,435 square miles.
The more important islands are hilly and mountainous, rising more or less abruptly from the shore to a height of about 4,000 or even 4.500 feet. The hills are generally of a grand and picturesque outline, being composed for the most part of old volcanic lavas. Upon the south-eastern or windward sides the islands are covered with dense forests. The lower lands are more lightly timbered, and apparently have all been under cultivation at a not distant period when the native population was much larger. The soil is almost everywhere deep, easily worked, and especially rich in humic acid. The northern and north-western sides of the larger island, or leeward sides, are characterised by a comparative absence of forest lands. The hills or plains are covered with long reeds or grass, and dotted with clumps of Casuarina and Pandanus.
The country is well watered. Frequent rains keep alive the sources of the thousands of small affluents feeding the main rivers. Of these rivers, the Rewa stands first. It is navigable for boats, punts, or flat-bottomed steamers, for 40 or 50 miles from its mouth. Several large streams fall into it, the sources of which lie in the high mountains of the interior, 3,000 or 4,000 feet above the level of
Besides these, the Sigatoka, the Nadi, and Ba rivers, with many others, drain the principal watersheds of Viti Levu. In Vanua Levu the rivers are not so large, though they are nearly as numerous. Almost every valley in the group has its stream or brook, from which the native occupants irrigate their plantations of "dalo" (Calocasia esculenta).
Fiji is as rich in harbours and roadsteads as it is in rivers. Each island is surrounded by a barrier reef, and, with few exceptions, is accessible through passages usually found opposite to the most considerable valley or river. Between this river and the shore ships lie safely at anchor, protected by an indestructible natural breakwater.
The Island of Rotumah, situated in 12° 30' S. lat., 177° 10', E. long., was discovered by the
"Pandora" in 1793, when searching for the mutineers of the "Bounty." Lying to the north-west, from two to four miles from the shore, are three small islets, Hattana, Hoflua, and Waya. Of these only the last named is inhabited, and it contains but one small village. In 1879 the three principal Rotumah chiefs offered the islands to Great Britain, and they were annexed 13th May, 1881. The population is estimated at 2,300, of whom four-fifths are Wesleyans, and the remainder Roman Catholics. The principal island is seven miles long by three miles broad, and contains about 9,000 acres.
The aboriginal population belongs to the darker of the two great Polynesian families, but, living on the confines of the fairer race, its blood has received some admixture. It was estimated in 1859 at 200,000; in 1868 at 170,000; and in 1874 at 140,000. By the epidemic of measles which occurred in 1875 it was again reduced. In 1888 the total population, including that of Rotumah, was estimated at 125,441, comprising 111,311 native Fijians, 6,489 Indian immigrants, and 2,115 Europeans, the remainder being mainly Polynesians, with a few half castes and Chinese; 100,000 are Wesleyans and 10,000 Roman Catholics.
The islands were discovered by Tasman n 1643, and visited by Captain Cook in 1769. Captain Bligh, on his memorable voyage in the launch of the "Bounty," sighted part of the group in 1789. Missionaries settled there in 1835, and, after a time, met with great success.
In 1859 Thakombau, the most powerful chief of Fiji, offered the sovereignty of the islands to Great Britain. The offer was declined by the Duke of Newcastle in 1862. About that time the demand for cotton, owing to the American civil war, led to an influx of Europeans into Fiji for the purpose of cotton cultivation. In June, 1871, certain Englishmen set up a Fijian Government, with the principal chief, Thakombau, as king. A constitution was agreed upon, and a Parliament elected. The Parliament and the Government before long drifted into mutual hostility, and the Ministry latterly governed without the aid of the Parliament.
The question of annexing Fiji had been agitated both in Australia and England since 1869 on many grounds, and in August, 1873, the Earl of Kimberley commissioned Commodore Goodenough, commanding the squadron on the station, and Mr. E. L. Layard, Her Majesty's Consul in Fiji, to investigate and report on the matter. These commissioners, on the 21st of March, 1874, reported an offer of the cession of the sovereignty of the islands from the chiefs, with the assent of the Europeans, but on certain terms, which were not acceptable, and Sir Hercules Robinson, the Governor of New South Wales, was despatched to Fiji in September, 1874, to negotiate. This mission was completely successful, and the sovereignty of the islands was ceded to Her Majesty by Thakombau, Maafu, and the other principal chiefs, in a deed of cession dated the 10th day of October, 1874. A charter was shortly afterwards issued by Her Majesty, erecting the islands into a separate colony, and providing for their govern
The climate of Fiji is cool for the tropics, and the country is remarkably free from zymotic and
enteric diseases. Dysentery is the only disease to which Europeans are peculiarly liable.
The highest shade temperature in 1888 was 92° in the month of March, and the lowest 63° in July and August. The total rainfall during the year was at Suva 112-45 inches. The rainfall extends over the whole year, but April to October is the dryest period. Between December and April is the hurricane season.
The constitution is regulated by Letters Patent of 2nd Jan., 1875. The Executive Council consists of the Governor and three official members, land, under Ordnance No. 25 of 1879, consists of and when sitting for the re-hearing of claims to the ordinary members, with the Chief Justice, the Commissioner for Lands, and Mr. W. S. Carew.
The Legislative Council consists of six official and six non-official nominated members. To the natives a large share of self-government has been conceded, their system of village and district councils has been recognized and improved, and supplemented by an annual meeting of the high chiefs and representatives from each province, presided over by the Governor. The regulations recommended by these bodies have, however, to receive the sanction of the Legislative Council before acquiring the force of law.
Levuka, in the Island of Ovalau, with a population of 450 souls, was at first selected as the European capital, but during the year 1882 the seat of Government was transferred to Suva, on the south coast of the Island of Viti Levu, with a fine harbour. The white population of Suva exceeds 700. Both Suva and Levuka are ports of registry, and on 31st December, 1888, 14 vessels registered, of a total tonnage of 632 tons. A considerable portion of the revenue, varying from 15,000l. to 19,000l. net, is raised from taxation of the natives, as follows:
The Colony is divided into fourteen provinces (exclusive of Colo, the mountain district of Viti Levu), each under the control of a Roko Tui or chief native officer. Each province is sub-divided into districts, of which the head officers are termed Bulis. Once every year the provinces are severally assessed by the Legislative Council for a fixed amount of tax, to be delivered in the form of produce valued at the rate to be paid by the contractor for the year.
The Provincial Council, consisting of the Bulis. presided over by the Roko, distribute the provincial tax ameng the different districts, and there is then a further sub-division among the different villages by district councils, each presided over by its Buli. The amount and kind of produce paid by each province and district is recorded and should the total value in any case exceed the amount of assessment, the surplus is returned in the form of money.
The control of the department of native taxation is in the hands of the Receiver-General.
A municipality was established in 1887 in Levuka, and in 1882 one was established in Suva on the transfer of the seat of government. These boards are at present regulated by Ordinance No. 16 of 1883. The governing body in each town is elected by the ratepayers. Rates are collected on land and house property. General rates are limited to one shilling in the pound on the assessed value of rateable property; but special
rates not exceeding one shilling in the pound are further provided for.
The town board is also the school board in each town, and a rate of 6d. in the pound is paid for school purposes under Ordinance No. 37 of 1885.
A grant in aid not exceeding one-fifth of the sum raised by general rate in the preceding year may be paid from general revenue to any town board, and a grant not exceeding one-half of the amount required for specified expenses beyond the sum raised by school fees, to any school board.
The revenue and expenditure in 1888 was: Suva town board, 8831. 14s. 3d. and 9531. 8s.; ditto school board, 6367. 6s. 10d. and 6217. 18s. 3d.; Levuka town board, 8391. 8s. 2d., and 8957. 12s. 3d.; ditto school board, 5891. 38. 8d., and 610. 11s. 5d. Total receipts of local authorities, 2,9487. 12s. 11d.; total expenditure, 3,0817. 9s. 11d., in addition to the revenue and expenditure of the native local districts above referred to.
Currency and Banking.
Postage to the United Kingdom, via Francisco or Brindisi, 8d. per oz.; to the Australian Colonies and New Zealand, 2d. per oz. Internal postal rates: town 1d., country 2d. per oz.; newspapers 1d. to the United Kingdom, via San Francisco, to the Australasian Colonies and Pacific Islands; to all other places 2d.
There is no railway or telegraph in the colony. The nearest points in telegraphic communication with Europe are Auckland (N.Z.) and Sydney, (N.S.W.). Intercommunication is maintained by sailing boats and steam launches, and by an interinsular steamer. A few good roads have been constructed on the larger islands.
Provision is made by Ordinance for the establishment of a Government savings bank, which will shortly be opened. There is no Government note issue. The Mortgage and Agency Co. of Australasia, Ltd., and The New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Co., Ltd., act as loan and mortgage companies.
British ExpenTotal diture. Tonnage. Tonnage. £
The legal tender currency, and the only coin in circulation, is British sterling.
The following banks have branches in Fiji, viz. The Bank of New Zealand (Suva and Levuka), and the Union Bank of Australia, Ltd. (Suva), both of which issue notes.
The chief products are sugar, copra, cotton, tea,maize, fruit, principally bananas, beche-de-mer, and peanuts. The export of sugar in 1888 was 16,916 tons, from an area of 12,250 acres; of copra 4,219 tons, from an area of 19,939 acres; cotton 3 tons, from 305 acres; tea over 13 tons, from 305 acres; maize 12,968 bushels, fruit to the value of 42,4487., 62 tons of beche-de-mer, and 346 tons of peanuts. Eighty per cent. of the trade is with the Australian Colonies; there are 12 sugar mills and 2 fruit preserving establishments.
A government system of elementary education is established under the Public Schools Ordinance of 1882. The management is vested in elected school boards. There are two common schools, with head and assistant teachers: Suva, 103 scholars; Le vuka, 73 scholars. These common schools receive a grant in aid from the public revenues.
The Public Schools Ordinance also provides for the establishment of high schools for advanced education.
There is a Government industria! school for native youths on Vanua Levu, attended by 64 scholars, which is partially self-supporting. The Wesleyan and Roman Catholic Missions provide for the education of the natives everywhere throughout the group.
Wesleyan schools, 1,824, native teachers, 2,517, scholars, 41,077.
Roman Catholic schools 84, scholars 1,040. Day School (for New Hebrides people), 1, scholars 63.
Means of Communication.
There is regular steam communication with the following places outside the colony: Sydney, (8 days), Melbourne (10 days), Auckland (4 days), New Caledonia (3 days), Tonga (2 days).