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New terrain reveal - Tanoa

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Hi all,

I've just returned from a holiday in Fiji, the landscape Tanoa is based upon. Here are some observations of the real Fiji, which may or may not be relevant for the Arma Tanoa terrain (since it's long and off topic, it gets spoiler tags) :

  • A "Tanoa" is a wooden bowl used by the Indigenous Fijian tribes in traditional kava ceremonies. Tanoa generally have four legs and a "tail" thing, making them look something like a stylized turtle.
  • Fiji is an archipelago with a young, volcanic landscape. It features many small peaks and valleys (erosion hasn't had time enough to flatten out the small scale features). This suits a game like Arma well, as small numerous topographical features are more interesting than massive, monolithic hills and valleys. There are only a few volcanoes in Fiji known to have erupted in the past few thousand years, so no real active volcanic crater as seen in the Tanoa reveal video. Some of the smaller islands are made of limestone or deposited sand.
  • Flat land is scarce on Fiji, only occurring along the coastline near the mouths of river systems. Human development is pretty much restricted to the flat areas. Most other land is too steep for vehicles, so infantry is going to be king on Tonoa. It's hard to imagine much use for heavy tracked vehicles in such a landscape apart from along roads, or in the few flat areas.
  • There are is only one city and a few small towns, but many small farms and villages. Flat areas are dominated by houses and farmland (mostly sugarcane). The tribal villages are surrounded by small areas of subsistence style farmland, and these do extend beyond land into the mountains and jungle.
  • The vegetation and climate varies quite significantly. Fiji has the typical tropical wet summer and dry winter seasons. Winds and rain generally come from the east. The west is surprisingly dry, being in the rain shadow of the mountainous highlands.
  • There are many cleared areas, with only grass and small bushes, but very few apparent grazing animals (and they were tied on short staked ropes, rather than being fenced). Much of the "jungle" around the settled areas has heavy human influence and is not very nice, with lots of messy regrowth, bamboo and vines. Fire seems to be the standard tool used to clear or control vegetation. Unfortunately I didn't get into any of the pristine jungle found in the highlands or national parks. The jungles were apparently logged quite intensively in the past.
  • It's a wet environment. Creeks are common, and largely boulder lined through steeper terrain. Clay and mud are common along jungle trails. Many of the larger rivers and creeks end in mangroves swamps.
  • The ocean is amazing, with a huge amount of marine life and coral reefs. Tides are a thing again but only 1 to 1.5m or so, but they do make a big difference for navigation as reefs are extensive, and become partly or fully exposed at low tide, while still being safely cleared by smaller boats at high tide. Seas are very small due to the reefs, but even outside the reefs and far from land there wasn't any more than a 1m swell, despite days of strong winds. Beyond the reefs the ocean floor drops away steeply. The ocean in the Tanoa reveal video is clearly no match for the real thing.
  • The colours of the ocean vary greatly. Around the developed and farmland it is full of algae, grey and murky. On the remote islands it is crystal clear turquoise over sand, brown and green over the reefs. Deeper areas are a rich dark blue. The volcanic rocks and soils are predominantly reddish brown, similar to the Tonao reveal videos. The white sand beaches are made from crushed shells and coral and are only really common on the smaller islands.
  • There are very few native land animals other than birds, bats and reptiles. Snakes are very rare and no rabbits. The most common animals I saw were mynas (birds) and geckos. Villages were home to roaming dogs, and every resort had a least one cat wandering about.
  • Fiji is home to two main racial and cultural groups, and three languages. Indigenous Fijians make up 60% of the population, and Indo-Fijians (Indians labourers brought to Fiji around 1900 to work the sugar farms) make up the remaining 40%. There are influences by other Pacific Island cultures such as Tonga an Samoa. I noticed only a few Caucasians that seemed at home enough to assume they lived in Fiji, although I did notice some in public roles like education, government advisers or running development projects on the local TV news.
  • The separation between the two main racial groups is quite pronounced, with much of the indigenous population living in small tribal villages, growing much of their own food in simple farms. Indo-Fijians mostly live in urban areas. I understand this is partly due to the land ownership laws, where only the Indigenous Fijian tribes can own land. The tribes can lease it to be farmed or used for resorts, and I assume this is the main source of income for the tribal villages. Almost every business (other than the resorts) seems to be owned and staffed by Indo-Fijians.
  • Tourism is one of the main industries. Resorts are common across the country. Accommodation types vary, some areas like Denarau are affluent, expensive and plain boring as any Australian resort (and full of Western tourists). Ownership of the resorts and where all the money goes is not really clear, but they are almost exclusively staffed by Indigenous Fijians.
  • It's a surprisingly "developing" (== poor) economy. Many of the Indigenous Fijian's live in very basic, open structures. The urban and farm houses are more substantial, but still simple. Kerosene or wood is used as fuel for cooking. There are apparently large slums around Suva, but we didn't visit these places. I was amused to see that many people living in what are essentially tin sheds own nice smartphones.
  • Public buses, taxi's and boats are common and practical, many people don't own (or need?) cars. Almost all the cars seem to be second hand imports from Japan (and right hand drive). Open wooden long boats or flat bottom aluminium boats are used to get to get around the small islands, as there are no roads and few trails.
  • Infrastructure is basic, seems old and in places inadequate. There are some unnerving bridge crossings on the main roads, and sights of old collapsed bridges. The water supply only covers the large towns, the electricity supply is unreliable (but even many villages have some electricity, with some rather interesting wiring on display). I got the feeling the economy as a whole has seen better days. Having said that I had good mobile phone reception everywhere I went, the phone coverage is better than major cities in Australia. There is a fair amount of burning rubbish and rubbish dumped around the place.
  • Manual labour is cheap, machines in good working order are scarce. Many shops have as many staff as customers, farming and sugar harvesting is done by hand with machetes, loading it onto a horse and cart. I did see a single cane train, but also lots of abandoned tracks. The local people sell their fruit and vegetable produce, and simple cooked food along the roadsides. Cheap fresh fruit and vegetables are sold in large markets in each town, while supermarkets were relatively scarce and processed foods other than bread are surprisingly expensive. 
  • I saw little real industry, apart from sugar refining, a brewery, a couple of ports, and a cement works. The main agricultural product is sugar. Other farmed plants include coconut, papaya, taro, cassava, banana, pineapples, mangoes, eggplants, beans, chilies, corn and kava. I saw some beef cattle, goats, horses and a few pigs around farms and the villages. Chickens are common. Surprisingly I didn't see a lot of local fishing vessels, other than a few rusty hulks around Suva.
  • Indigenous Fijians have a violent history, with much tribal conflict and cannibalism. Christianity is now the main religion in the Indigenous population, and I did see some Hindu temples and Mosques around the Indo-Fijians towns. Religious schools are very common. It is not uncommon to see a village of 100 people with it's own large primary school and high school buildings, all funded by various overseas religious groups. Sadly many of these schools were obviously not being used at all.
  • The country has had many military coups in the past few decades, affecting international relations and tourism. Land ownership laws and the separation of wealth and political influence between the racial groups seems to be an unresolved and difficult issue. The only large public buildings I saw were in the capital Suva. This area was also full of police and some military, but we happened to visit on the same day as a visiting foreign political leader.
  • Rugby seems to be the only sport Fijians watch or play. Local music is a mix of reggae and Indian pop influences - not really a soundtrack for war, but great for an island holiday.

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