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The heart of the "friendly North" is Fiji's second-largest island (8,992-square km [3,472-square mi]), home to roughly a fifth of the country's population. Characterized by a lack of development relative to other parts of the country, hilly Vanua Levu comprises mainly dense rain forest, small coastal villages, and two disparate coastal towns on its north and south sides. Labasa is a
major sugar producer set amid sugarcane fields, while Savusavu is a modest hub of tourism and foreign investment on the coast. Between the two lies one of Fiji's most diverse rain-forest reserves, Waisali. From Savusavu, the fantastically scenic (and jolting) Hibiscus Highway rolls east past resorts and then quiet but welcoming villages.