Levuka is the formal capital city of Fiji with about half of the population of the Ovalau Island. The town is the leading economic hub among the twenty-four settlements on the island. Levuka was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2013 to conserve and protect the rich history that has been recorded in the town as well as ancient landmarks that are still available today. The local people are concerned with the preservation of this historical town by developing measures to keep the interference with the town at minimal.
5. Description and History -
Levuka is a historical colonial port town that formally served as the capital city of Fiji Islands until 1877 when Suva replaced it as the new capital following fears that the high cliffs surrounding Levuka would hamper future growth and expansion of the town. The city was founded in the early 19th century after which it enjoyed years of economic prosperity until 1950 when the port was no longer used by marine vessels that sailed the Pacific. However, the establishment of the Japanese Pacific Fishing Company revived the economy making it the current major employer of the people of the Ovalau Island.
4. Tourism and Education-
Levuka was listed as Fiji’s first world Heritage Site in 2013 by UNESCO making it an important tourist attraction due to the 19th-century landmarks and architecture and the pacific waters for sporting, and the coconut and mango trees-lined beaches. The town has many learning institutions which were established during the 19th century in which most of the leaders were educated before 1970.
3. Uniqueness -
The unique nature of Levuka town lies in the rare landscape created from the unique blend of colonial and local traditional building and settlement patterns to develop one of the most outstanding architectural designs of the 19th century. The fact that most of the town remains unchanged throughout the centuries makes it a point of interest for tourists as well as the local communities.
2. Nature, Sights, and Sounds -
Levuka town is a destination natural beauty from the coconut and mango trees lining the beach, the Pacific Ocean bordering the town as well the 19th-century structures that are common in the region. Levuka is a home to the Fiji Museum, libraries with historical records concerning the town earlier churches such as the Sacred Heart Church of 1858. Since Levuka has not changed much, it is possible to find institutions that were established during the 19th and 20th centuries.
1. Threats and Conservation Efforts -
The major threat to the heritage of Levuka town is constant fires. Most of the buildings in the town are made of wood making them vulnerable to fire. The situation is not helped by the fact that the buildings lack a fire extinguishers and the town has no hydras. Some of these fires are said to be as a result of arson while others are as a result of mechanical faults, for example, the fire that brought down the PAFCO freezing plant. The most significant effort to conserve the town’s heritage is classifying it as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.