Nepali's living under palm trees and close to long white sand beaches? A contradiction in terms, one would think. Yet 10,000 Nepalis live on an island in the Pacific, Viti Levu, the largest island in the Republic of Fiji.

Nepalis immigrated to Fiji in large numbers around the turn of the century. Fiji was then a British Crown Colony and the English overlords were looking to populate their farflung empire with subject people slated for work on the plantations and in menial labour. Although a few Nepalis came as free settlers, most were part of the "girmit", the indentured labour system. At the time, however, the authorities in Kathmandu ruled against the recruitment of its citizens for such purposes. Those who wanted to join the British work force had to do so clandestinely.

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Himal Southasian