Lautoka

Lautoka

Things to do - general

Lautoka is the second largest city of Fiji. It is in the west of the island of Viti Levu, 24 kilometres north of Nadi, and is the second port of entry in Fiji, after Suva.

According to legend, Fiji’s second-largest city derives its name from a battle cry that means ‘spear-hit’. The story goes that when an argument erupted between two local chiefs, one cried out the words lau toka as he killed the other by spearing him through the chest, simultaneously stating the obvious and naming the location.

Lautoka’s recent history is entwined with the fortunes of sugar, which gives rise to its other name, Sugar City.

Lautoka doesn’t have much to detain travellers, but it is a pleasant enough spot with wide streets steeped in foliage, a picturesque esplanade, a couple of decent cafes and the backdrop of Mt Koroyanitu (Mt Evans) to remind everyone that the urban reaches are well and truly finite.

Culture and history info

Lautoka is known as the Sugar City because of its sugar cane belt areas. The main Lautoka Sugar Mill was founded in 1903, and is the city's biggest employer by far. Built for the Colonial Sugar Refining Company (Fiji) (CSR) by workers from India and the Solomon Islands between 1899 and 1903, it hires some 1,300 employees today. Other industries include timber milling, garment manufacturing, distillery, brewery, jewellery, blending, steelworks, fishing, hatchery, domestic items, paints, and construction. In 2012 Lautoka was announced as the administration capital of the western division.

The name of the city is derived from two Fijian words meaning "spear hit." According to an oral tradition, the name arose following a duel between two chiefs. As one speared the other, he was reported to have cried "Lau-toka!" The first known European sighting of the Lautoka area took place on 7 May 1789. Captain William Bligh spotted and roughly charted the coasts of Lautoka while making his epic voyage to Timor, in the wake of the mutiny on the Bounty in which he and a few sailors loyal to him were thrown overboard and cast adrift on a life boat.

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