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Lau Islands

Travel Guide Oceania Melanesia Fiji Lau Islands

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Introduction

The Lau Islands (also called the Lau Group, the Eastern Group, the Eastern Archipelago) of Fiji are situated in the southern Pacific Ocean, just east of the Koro Sea. Of this chain of about sixty islands and islets, about thirty are inhabited. The Lau Group covers a land area of 487 square kilometres, and had a population of 10,683 at the most recent census in 2007. While most of the northern Lau Group are high islands of volcanic origin, those of the south are mostly carbonate low islands. Administratively the islands belong to Lau Province.

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History

The British explorer James Cook reached Vatoa in 1774. By the time of the discovery of the Ono Group in 1820, the Lau archipelago was the most mapped area of Fiji.

Political unity came late to the Lau Islands. Historically, they comprised three territories: the Northern Lau Islands, the Southern Lau Islands, and the Moala Islands. Around 1855, the renegade Tongan prince Enele Ma'afu conquered the region and established a unified administration. Calling himself the Tui Lau, or King of Lau, he promulgated a constitution and encouraged the establishment of Christian missions. The first missionaries had arrived at Lakeba in 1830, but had been expelled. The Tui Nayau, who had been the nominal overlord of the Lau Islands, became subject to Ma'afu.

The Tui Nayau and Tui Lau titles came into personal union in 1969, when Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, who had already been installed as Tui Lau in 1963 by the Yavusa Tonga, was also installed as Tui Nayau following the death of his father Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba III in 1966. The title Tui Lau was left vacant from his uncle, Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna, in 1958 as referenced in Mara, The Pacific Way Paper.

The Northern Lau Islands, which extended as far south as Tuvuca, were under the overlordship of Taveuni and paid tribute to the Tui Cakau (Paramount Chief of Cakaudrove). In 1855, however, Ma'afu gained sovereignty over Northern Lau, establishing Lomaloma, on Vanua Balavu, as his capital.

The Southern Lau Islands extended from Ono-i-Lau, in the far south, to as far north as Cicia. They were the traditional chiefdom of the Tui Nayau, but with Ma'afu's conquest in the 1850s, he became subject to Tongan supremacy.

The Moala Islands had closer affiliation with Bau Island and Lomaiviti than with Lau, but Ma'afu's conquest united them with the Lau Islands. They have remained administratively a part of the Lau Province ever since.

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Geography

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Regions

  • Northern Lau Islands
  • Southern Lau Islands
  • Moala Islands

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Villages

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  • Tubou - the capital, the most important of eight villages on the island of Lakeba, one of the Southern Lau Islands

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Sights and Activities

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Events and Festivals

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Weather

The Lau Islands enjoy a mild tropical climate with year-round temperatures around 25 °C with a generally high humidity. Average highs range from around 26 °C in July and August to around 30 °C from Decembert to April. Lows are between 20 °C and 23 °C. May to October is the dry season, also known as the "Fiji Winter". The weather is slightly cooler and less rainfall and humidity make it a good time of the year to visit. From December to April, the islands get a lot of rain and many places get up to 3,000 mm or more a year!

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Getting There

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Getting Around

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Eat/Drink

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Sleep

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This is version 1. Last edited at 13:51 on Jul 12, 17 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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