Suva, Viti Levu, Fiji Islands

Fiji’s capital is the second largest and one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the South Pacific outside Australia and New Zealand. Located on Fiji’s largest island, Viti Levu, it was designated as the capital in 1877 after the original capital outgrew its location between mountains and sea. It has a distinctively youthful atmosphere, due to its significant population of students attending one of the island’s many universities or other institutions. The city center is a mix of modern and colonial-era structures. The main downtown shopping street, Cumming Street, is markedly narrow and lined with colonial era buildings. The Fiji Museum, located within the large Thurston Gardens park, was founded in 1904 and holds a large collection of traditional Fijian and other Pacific Islands cultural artifacts. Thurston Gardens is also a botanical conservatory and holds other important sites including the 1909 Carnegie Library. Suva’s government buildings and Parliament are clustered around Government House, a former palace built in 1882 and reconstructed in 1928 after being struck by lightning. Many visitors choose to visit a Fijian Cultural Village to become acquainted with the country’s rich and colorful traditions including handcrafts, music and dance. Others prefer to explore the large Colo-i-Suva Forest Reserve outside town and perhaps have a swim in one of the pools below a waterfall there.