In traditional indigenous Fijian society, people belong to a yavusa, a tribe of people who share a common ancestor. Each yavusa is divided into several mataqali (clans). Each clan, in turn, includes several extended families (i tokatoka) made up of brothers' households. A Fijian village may include an entire yavusa and can vary in size from 50 to 400 members.

People have close ties within their clan. A man considers his brother's children his own, and adults care communally for all the village children. Children are expected to be well behaved in the company of adults. Although parents love their children, they are rarely affectionate to them in public. Such a display would not be considerate to other people's children. Older people are treated with great respect.

A hereditary chief rules the clan, and the father rules the household. Women perform most household tasks. Fijians strongly believe in respect for all and value women's work. They feel that a person of high status must earn the respect of those of low status by showing humility. A husband should serve his wife and children as much as they serve him.

A traditional village home, or bure, is built on a raised mound that is sacred to the family. The higher the mound, the greater the family's importance in the community. The bure consists of a wooden frame with walls of bamboo stalks interwoven with leaves and a high, thatched roof. A well-maintained bure can withstand storms and last 20 years, but villagers today often build their homes with concrete blocks and corrugated iron. Inside, the bure is usually one room with little furniture in it. Sleeping and eating take place on the floor, and women cook in a smaller bure next door. Everything is shared. People never lock their doors because relatives may need to use their home. If a family is hosting guests, other families will leave food by the door to help out.

   Did you know?
In indigenous Fijian villages, the families of a bride and groom bring food such as taro or yams, and goods such as bolts of cloth or drums of kerosene. At a Hindu wedding, guests present the couple with clothes, dishes, household linens and money.
Fijian Indian families usually live in the cities, particularly Suva, Lautoka and Nadi, or in villages close to sugar cane plantations. The Hindu caste system largely determines social status. Most Indians marry within their caste, and in rural areas relatives arrange most marriages. Indigenous Fijians and Fijian Indians rarely intermarry.

Many indigenous Fijians have moved to the cities to look for work, and overcrowding has become a problem. The Housing Authority of Fiji provides homes for some of the needy, but Suva now has more than 5,000 squatter families.