Fiji established its national flag, known as “Kuila ni Viti” in Fijian, on October 10, 1970. Since Fiji’s colonial history, the state arms have undergone some minor changes, but the flag has not. We’ll look into the background, significance, and symbolism of the flag of Fiji in today’s post.
Flag of Fiji History
In 1817, after changing its name to “the Kingdom of Fiji,” the administration of Fiji adopted a national flag featuring vertical blue and white stripes as well as a red shield. The shield had a white dove in the center.
In 1865, the Bau, Cakaudrove, Lakeba Macuata, Naduri, and Rewa united to establish the United Tribes of Fiji. At this time, they adopted a flag with a large white five-pointed star in the center and a blue background. Then in 1867, whenever the Lakeba chief was elected as the president, the flag was changed to a blue field with a half-sun and a cross on the top left. The sun had 30 rays and a crown.
When the Kingdom of Lau was established in 1869, another flag was designed. It featured a horizontal white and red bicolor with a red cross on the top left. However, in 1874, once Fiji became a British colony, the United Kingdom of Great Britain’s Union Flag was established as the flag for Fiji.
The country received a British Blue Ensign with a white disc and coat of arms in 1908. However, the white disc was dropped in 1924. Fiji was a British colony up until 1970. Then, on October 10, 1970, the nation officially gained its independence, marking the adoption of the current flag.
The shield from the country’s coat of arms is defaced on a cyan “Blue Ensign.” The true Blue Ensign variation of the flag is the Government ensign. Some reformers want the Union Flag removed because they see it as a reminder of British colonialism, but others want to keep it flying to maintain shared history.
Despite proposals from some politicians for revisions, the national flag has not altered since Fiji was designated a republic in 1987. Prominent Fijians have pushed for the restoration of the entire coat of arms on the flag.
The initial flag of the Kingdom of Viti, the first unified Fijian kingdom established in 1871 under the leadership of Seru Epenisa Cakobau, featured the emblems “Fear God and Honor the Queen.” They could be seen on the Kingdom of Viti’s coat of arms as well. The Great Council of Chiefs of Fiji proposed that these emblems be placed on the flag on November 30, 2005.
Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama announced an intention to replace the flag in 2013, however, it was shelved in August 2016.
Flag of Fiji Meaning
The current national flag of Fiji, which has a light blue background, is a variation of the traditional British Blue Ensign. It features the state shield, or coat of arms, and the Union Jack. The width to length of the flag is one to two. To set the Blue Ensign from other colonial flags of a similar design, the local insignia of the colony was positioned in the middle of the fly end. The 1908-established Fiji coat of arms served as the inspiration for that insignia.
The red cross of St. George is displayed on a white background beneath another English emblem on its shield, or coat of arms. On the shield are panels depicting a palm tree, sugar cane, bananas, a dove, and a golden British lion grasping a cocoa pod.
The British ensign, which was used prior to Fiji gaining independence, and the present flag differ only in that the latter used a darker shade of blue and featured the entire Fijian coat of arms instead of just the shield.
The four major colors of the Fijian flag are light blue, dark blue, white, and red. Golden yellow and green are secondary hues that can be seen within the coat of arms.
Flag of Fiji Symbolism
The Pacific Ocean, which is significant to the life of Fiji islanders in terms of both the fishing sector and the significant tourism trade, is represented by the flag’s vivid blue backdrop. The Union Jack symbolizes the nation’s connections to the United Kingdom. The nation’s coat of arms, which was awarded by royal warrant in 1908, served as the inspiration for the shield.
The shield is white with a crimson cross and band over the top third, like the St. George’s Cross found in the national flag of England. A British lion at the top of the shield is holding a cocoa pod in its paws. This also represents Fiji’s historical connections to the United Kingdom. The cross divides the shield into four parts, with each quadrant highlighting significant agricultural aspects of Fiji. The first quarter is made up of sugar cane, the second is a coconut palm, the third is a peace dove, and the last is a bundle of bananas.
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The photo featured at the top of this post is © Tatohra/Shutterstock.com
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- World Atlas, Available here: https://www.worldatlas.com/flags/fiji
- Flags World, Available here: https://www.flagsworld.org/fiji-flag.html
- World Population Review, Available here: https://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/fiji/flag