Underwater New Years in Fiji

Scuba diving and drum beating welcome Fiji's New Year

(Everything2000) A group of scuba divers spent the first stroke of the year 2000 underwater in the ocean off Fiji. The group wasn't from the island, but from the United States.

Fiji was one of the first places to ring in the Year 2000 and swarms of tourists have flocked to the tiny island to be among the first to welcome this historical New Year. The group met the New Year while scuba diving off the island of Rabi. It is one of 340 islands that make up this South Pacific nation.

On land, locals danced, drummed on tin cans and fired off homemade fireworks made of bamboo poles.

Tourists flocked to the tiny islands of Fiji to join with the local to join in on one of the world's first New Year parties. An estimated 40,000 people from around the world came to celebrate bringing Fiji's population to 800,000 for the week.

On the island of Tavenui visitors had a chance to have one foot in the old millennium and one in the new.

The tourists stepped across the 180th Meridian, the basis of the international dateline and were able to make history of their own.

On Turtle island an exclusive resort sold-out its 14 traditional-style bungalows. American couples paid 35,000 for a 10-night millennium vacation. While the tourists were taking part in all the island's festivities, the locals were much more laid back.

A party at the Royal Suva Yacht Club usually attracts a crowd of 1,500. This year only 150 people showed up to ring in the New Year.

As for Y2K and Fiji. In the first hours of the New Year the government officials report no major problems with power, water or telephone.

Source: Associated Press

DATE: 12/31/99

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