There is very little intermarriage between racial communities. The relative proportions of Fijians and Indians in the population have been changing in recent years. This is because the Fijian birth rate is higher than the Indian and because of the accelerating outward migration of Indians, especially to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand after the coup d’état of 1987 resulted in the reemergence of a Fijian majority. While Suva has a very mixed population, the sugar regions of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu have predominantly Indian populations. On the smaller islands, and in less-developed rural areas of the larger islands, Fijians live in traditional villages.
The two largest urban centres are on Viti Levu: Suva, in the southeast, which has just over one-fifth of the total population, and Lautoka in the northwest, which is the centre of the sugar industry and has a major port. Labasa on Vanua Levu is a centre for administration, services, and sugar production. Fiji’s mixed racial background contributes to a rich cultural heritage. Many features of traditional Fijian life survive; they are most evident in the elaborate investiture, marriage, and other ceremonies for high-ranking chiefs. These ceremonies provide a focus for the practicing of traditional crafts, such as the manufacture of masi, or tapa cloth, made from the bark of the paper mulberry; mat weaving; wood carving; and canoe making. Drinking of yagona/yaqona (kava, made from the root of Piper Methysticum) is a part not only of important ceremonies but also of everyday life. Displays of “traditional” Fijian culture, music, and dancing make an important contribution to tourism; model villages and handicraft markets are popular.
Many Indian women continue to wear the sari together with traditional jewelry in gold and silver. Traditional marriage ceremonies are practiced, as are customs such as fire walking and ritual self-torture as part of important religious ceremonies. Cinemas showing imported Indian films are popular. Diwali, the Hindu Festival of the Lights, is celebrated every October and is a public holiday.