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Levuka, Fiji

Levuka is a Town on the eastern coast of the Fijian island of Ovalau, in Lomaiviti Province, in the Eastern Division of Fiji. It was formerly the capital of Fiji.

It is the economic hub and the largest of 24 settlements on the island. Levuka and the island of Ovalau had been designated by UNESCO  as a World Heritage Site  in June 2013.

The modern town of Levuka was founded around 1820 by European settlers and traders as the first modern town in the Fiji Islands, and became an important port and trading post. A disparate band of settlers made up Levuka's population – traders, missionaries, shipwrights, speculators, and vagabonds, as well as respectable businessmen. The US Exploring Expedition visited in 1840. Marist

priests, led by Father Breheret, established a mission in Levuka in 1858. By 1870, the town had a population of more than 800. When the first modern nation state of Fiji was founded in 1871, Ratu Seru Epenisa Cakobau was crowned King  at Levuka. After Fiji was annexed as a British Colony  in 1874, Levuka remained the capital until 1877, when the administration was moved to Suva, although the move was not made official until 1882. The move was prompted by concerns that the 600-meter high hills, many with cliffs, surrounding Levuka gave it no room for expansion.

Levuka is famous for many of Fiji's "firsts." It was the site of Fiji's first bank, post office, school, private members club, hospital, town hall, and municipal government. Fiji's first newspaper, the Fiji Times, which is still in operation today, was founded in Levuka in 1869. Levuka's Royal Hotel is the oldest hotel in the South Pacific still operating. Historians have not ascertained its exact age, but records show that it was in existence by the early 1860s. Levuka Public School, opened in 1879, was the first public school in Fiji and many of Fiji's leaders in the years leading up to and following independence in 1970 were educated there. The oldest Masonic Lodge in the South Pacific, is also to be found in Levuka. It was established in 1875. Levuka was also the site of Fiji's first public electricity system, which began in 1927, three days before the capital Suva was electrified.

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