Natural paradises in danger to be saved: Fiji islands



by LORENZO CIOTTI

Natural paradises in danger to be saved: Fiji islands

Fiji comprises more than 300 islands and atolls, of which about a third are inhabited. Rising sea levels, coupled with warmer temperatures and hurricanes, increase the island's susceptibility to deadly food and waterborne diseases.

Extreme climate change threatens the livelihoods of the Fijian population, complicating the island's ecosystems, both on land and at sea. The islands of the archipelago are arranged in a horseshoe, dotted with numerous coral atolls and bathed by the Koro Sea.

The main ones are Viti Levu, Vanua Levu, Taveuni, Kandavu, Koro and Rotuma. Of volcanic origin, they have large limestone deposits and are therefore characterized by a mainly mountainous and rugged morphology which, along the coasts, gives way to flat bands.

The highest point of the archipelago is Mount Victoria or Tomanivi (1324 m), in Viti Levu. The local population has learned over the millennia to use the native flora in the preparation of food, medicines, dyes for fabrics, tools and building materials.

About 3 500 years ago, the archipelago's first inhabitants brought with them poultry, dogs and pigs, causing the extinction of some of the indigenous bird species. Bats were the only ones to survive among the original mammals, while the introduced species adapted perfectly to the new habitat, for example wild dogs, cats, pigs, goats and mice.

The twenty land reptile species include turtles and sea snakes. There are also about a hundred species of avifauna, twenty-three of which originate from the archipelago. The marine fauna is also varied and abundant and many species of fish, corals, sponges, coral, rays, sharks, dolphins and whales live in the waters of Fiji.

The archipelago is located roughly halfway between Vanuatu and Tonga and therefore represents a kind of crossroads in the southwestern Pacific. The 180th meridian passes right through Taveuni, but the international date line is specially bent to allow uniform time for the entire group of islands.

Rotuma, the northernmost of the islands, is located just 12 ° 30 ′ below the equator. The climate is subtropical, hot and humid, with frequent rainfall, especially between November and April, concentrated on the eastern and south-eastern slopes, which are more exposed to the trade winds.

The average annual temperature is 25 ° C, that of precipitation about 2500 mm. The differences in climate present in the country are very particular: while the eastern areas are humid and characterized by sudden and much more frequent showers than in other areas of the country, the western parts are warmer and drier.