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About Fiji

About Fiji image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

The receipt of the first discovery of Fiji, publisbed in 1879, suggests some remarks about tbat group which is destined to occupy a prominent place in the future of the Pacifio half of our globe. The inlands are situated in lat. 18 deg. south, nearly in a direct line between San Francisco and Sydnev, 1,400 miles from the latter port and about the same distance from New Zealand, Tahita, Honolulú, the Marshall Islands, Caroline Islands and New Guinea, and half as far from New Caledonia and the New Hebrides, Solomon, Ellice, Samoan, and Friendly groups. Amid all these Fiji is a central point, with the prospect of great commercial facilities when Micronesia- a name including those imall islands of the South Pacific- ia well supplied with steam vessels. Five years ago Fiji became a Britieh colony, but the civilized authority was so weak in some of the smaller islands, or districts remóte from the seaports, that caönibalism did not cease till two years later. " Long pig " has ceased to appear on the nativo bilis of fare. There is an govcrnuient, with pólice, courts of justice, public records, and last but not least, a regular systein of tazation. The group has an aroa of 7,000,000 acres, niuch of which belongs to the colonial governuicnt, and is offered for sale at $5 an acre fbr class and less for poorer qualities. The arca cnltivatcd by white settlers is 13,000 acres, and po mention is made of the acres sold to white men, belonging to natives or of unsold of the first quality. The group has eighty islanda, maktng an arohipelago 370 miles long by 200 wide. There are 120,000 natives, including 20,000 availablo for work, but, wlien einplciyed as laborers, tlicy idle away their time mum cluscly walclicd. Their wages are $20 a year, beeidea board, clothing and tobáceo, costing $20 more, making the total expense lens than $4 a month. Natives of New Britain and New Ireland, hired by terms of three years at $20 a year, are more industrious. With such wages therc is no chance for a white man to tnake anything as a laboror, and there is little opcortumty to make muoh as an (üiiployer unleBS he has $10,iJ00 oapital to begin with. The chief exporta are cocoanuts, cotton and sugar, and it is .supjPOMd that coffee will be laroly cultivated. The dried cocoanut, callod copra, makel up nearly two-thirds of the exiort8 ; and of the 13,000 acres planted by white .settlers, G.000 are in cocoanuts, 2,600 in cotton, 1,500 in sugar cane, 1,000 in coffee and 250 in arrow-root. We are told that all these can be cultivased profitably. Junuary, the hottest month, has a mean temperature of 84, with a maximum of 99 in the shade, and 100 in the biiu ; and July has a mean of 77, with a minimum of 07 three l'eet from the ground, 55 in the grass, and a maximum of 85 in the shade and 140 in the sun. There is never a month when the heat does uot go to 140 in the sun. The coldost month of Fiji is about 20 botter than the warmest in San 'f 'hfl .nrliwtjvfï colJ Wil UU P phod to any month in the formei place or warm tq any in the latter. Though Fiji has 100 inches of rain in the average year, it has only 150 rainy days, and the climato is generally considered a very pleasant one for those accustomed to the torrid zone. Tbere are no malignant fevers or malarial diseases, and the vegetation is most luxuriant and beautiful. Taken altogether, Fiji will always be considered a tropical paradise.