Suva is the capital and largest city of Fiji. It is located on the southeast coast of the island of Viti Levu, in the Central Division, Rewa Province. In 1877, it was decided to make Suva the capital of Fiji when the geography of former main European settlement at Levuka on the island of Ovalau proved too restrictive. The administration of the colony was moved from Levuka to Suva in 1882.
Suva is Fiji's political and administrative capital. It's also the largest and the most sophisticated city in the South Pacific (excluding New Zealand) and has become an important regional centre; students from the Pacific region and a growing expatriate community make up a significant portion of the city's population.
At the 2007 census the city of Suva had a population of 85,691. Including independent suburbs, the population of the Greater Suva urban area was 172,399 at the 2007 census. Suva, along with the bordering cities of Lami, Nasinu, and Nausori have a total urban population of around 330,000, over a third of the nation's population. This urban complex is known also as the Suva-Nausori corridor (not including Lami).
In return for a promise to pay off debts owed to the United States by the Bauan chieftain, Seru Epenisa Cakobau, the Australian-based Polynesia Company was granted 5000 km² of land, 575 km² of it near what was then the village of Suva, in 1868. The original intention was to develop a cotton farming industry, but the land and climate proved unsuitable.
Following the annexation of the Fiji Islands by the United Kingdom in 1874, the colonial authorities decided to move the capital to Suva from Levuka in 1877. The transfer was made official in 1882. Colonel F.E. Pratt of the Royal Engineers was appointed Surveyor-General in 1875 and designed the new capital, assisted by W. Stephens and Colonel R.W. Stewart.
Following the promulgation of the Municipal Constitution Ordinance of 1909, Suva acquired municipal status in 1910. The town initially comprised one square mile; these boundaries remained intact until 1952 when the Muanikau and Samabula wards were annexed, expanding its territory to 13 square kilometers. In October that year, Suva was proclaimed a City - Fiji's first. Tamavua was subsequently annexed; the most recent extension of the city boundaries has been to incorporate the Cunningham area to the north of the city. Urban sprawl has resulted in a number of suburbs that remain outside of the city limits; together with the city itself, they form a metropolitan area known as the Greater Suva Area.
The city hosted the 2003 South Pacific Games, being the third time in the event's 40 year history that they had been held in Suva. As part of the hosting of the event a new gymnasium and indoor sports center, swimming pool and stadium, field hockey pitch and stands were built in the area around Suva, funded by the government and a $16 million People's Republic of China aid package.
Geography and physical characteristics
Suva is the capital of Fiji and is a harbour city built on a peninsula reaching out into the sea. It has a mix of modern buildings and traditional colonial architecture.
The city is perched on a hilly peninsula between Laucala Bay and Suva Harbour in the southeast corner of Viti Levu. The mountains north and west catch the southeast trade winds, producing moist conditions year round.
Suva is the commercial and political centre of Fiji, though not necessarily the cultural centre, and the largest urban area in the South Pacific outside of Australia and New Zealand. It is Fiji's main port city.
Although Suva is on a peninsula, and almost surrounded by sea, the nearest beach is 40 kilometres (25 mi) away at Pacific Harbour, and the nearby coast is lined by mangroves. A significant part of the city centre, including the old Parliament Buildings, is built on reclaimed mangrove swamp.