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Languages in Fiji

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The 1997 Constitution of Fiji establishes Fijian, English and Hindustani as its official languages. These are either widely used or spoken by more people than any of the other minor languages.

Fijian, which has Eastern Fijian, Fiji and Standard Fijian as its alternate names, is used by 450,000 first-language speakers indigenous Fijians and 200,000 second-language speakers, and is spoken in Kadavu, northeast and eastern half of Viti Levu and eastern offshore islands, Kadavu island, Vannua Levu and offshore islands, western half of Viti Levu and Waya islands.

English is a remnant of the colonial rule by the British and is the country’s official language until 1997. Classified as Indo-European, Germanic and West, it is widely used in the government, education, business and the courts, and spoken by urban Chinese and occasionally by Indians in Rotuman. In the United Kingdom, it is spoken by 58.1 million people and by 328 million in all countries.

Hindustani is spoken by 350,000 in Fiji. Brought by the British through the indentured or contracted laborers, the language has alternate names of Fijian Hindi, Fijian Hindustani, and Fiji Hindustani, classified as Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan and East Central Zone.

The other languages in the country include the Kiribati, spoken by 5,300 Fijians; Lanau by 16,000 in easern part, Nayan and Vatoa islands; Rotuman by 9,000 in Rotuma island; and Lomaiviti, in the islands east of Viti Levu, Koro, Levuka, Ovalau and Gau islands.

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