The announcement that Levuka- Fiji’s first capital- has been listed as the country’s first World Heritage Site has been described as “historic” and “a wonderful day for Fiji” by the Minister for Education, National Heritage. Culture and Art’s, Filipe Bole, and the Attorney General and Minister for Tourism, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Levuka is among 14 new sites declared by the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO -the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation -at its current meeting in Cambodia.

The Committee described Levuka – with “its low line of buildings set among coconut and mango tress along the beach front” – as a “rare” and “outstanding example of late 19th century Pacific port settlements”.

It said the combination of “development by the indigenous community” and “integration of local building traditions by a supreme naval power” – Britain – had led to “the emergence of a unique landscape”.

In welcoming the Committee’s decision on behalf of the Bainimarama Government, both ministers said the declaration was a landmark day for both the people of Levuka and the entire nation. “UNESCO has recognised that Levuka is important not just to Fiji but the entire world and needs to be preserved and protected for all time.

This is truly a historical day – the first time any site in Fiji has achieved World Heritage status”, the Attorney General said.

The AG said the declaration was a tribute to the people of Levuka, who had worked hard and lobbied tirelessly for the World Heritage classification.

” The citizens of Levuka can be very proud that their efforts have succeeded and they also deserve the thanks of every Fijian for their efforts to preserve the site of our first capital. This means that Levuka – in its present state – will remain as a snapshot, frozen in time, of a crucial part of our nation’s development and a permanent reminder of our unique history. It is a day for every Fijian to celebrate”, he said.

The AG added that Levuka could now look forward to a brighter economic future because the listing was bound to generate more international interest in the town.

” It’s inevitable – when a place like this gets so firmly planted on the map – that there will be a spike in tourism as visitors are drawn to see what the listing has to offer. The local economy of Levuka has had a challenging time in recent years but being placed in the spotlight is bound to have a positive flow-on effect for local businesses”, he said.

For his part, the Minister for National Heritage, Mr Bole, said a large part of the credit for the listing rested with the National Trust of Fiji and he thanked both the Chairman, Radike Qereqeretabua, and Vice Chair, Robin Yarrow, who was in Cambodia for the announcement.

“This has been a wonderful example of cooperation between the citizens of Levuka, the National Trust and the Bainimarama Government, which has supported this nomination from the start. All stakeholders – the Government, the Trust, local government in Levuka and local businesses – will now be working hand in hand with the citizens of Levuka to fulfil the obligations that we now have to preserve and protect the town for future generations. Levuka has a wonderful future ahead of it”,  Minister Bole added.


The town and its low line of buildings set among coconut and mango trees along the beach front was the first colonial capital of Fiji, ceded to the British in 1874. It developed from the early 19th century as a centre of commercial activity by Americans and Europeans who built warehouses, stores, port facilities, residences, and religious, educational and social institutions around the villages of the South Pacific island’s indigenous population. It is a rare example of a late colonial port town that was influenced in its development by the indigenous community which continued to outnumber the European settlers. Thus the town, an outstanding example of late 19th century Pacific port settlements, reflects the integration of local building traditions by a supreme naval power, leading to the emergence of a unique landscape.


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