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Fiji became independent in 1970, after nearly a century as a British colony. Democratic rule was interrupted by two military coups in 1987, caused by concern over a government perceived as dominated by the Indian community (descendants of contract laborers brought to the islands by the British in the 19th century). A 1990 constitution favored native Melanesian control of Fiji, but led to heavy Indian emigration; the population loss resulted in economic difficulties, but ensured that Melanesians became the majority. Amendments enacted in 1997 made the constitution more equitable. Free and peaceful elections in 1999 resulted in a government led by an Indo-Fijian, but a coup in May 2000 ushered in a prolonged period of political turmoil. Parliamentary elections held in August 2001 provided Fiji with a democratically elected government and gave a mandate to the government of Prime Minister Laisenia QARASE.
Geography Fiji
Oceania, island group in the South Pacific Ocean, about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand
Geographic coordinates:
18 00 S, 175 00 E
Map references:
total: 18,270 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 18,270 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than New Jersey
Land boundaries:
0 km
1,129 km
Maritime claims - as described in UNCLOS 1982 (see Notes and Definitions):
measured from claimed archipelagic straight baselines
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation; rectilinear shelf claim added
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
tropical marine; only slight seasonal temperature variation
mostly mountains of volcanic origin
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Tomanivi 1,324 m
Natural resources:
timber, fish, gold, copper, offshore oil potential, hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 10.95%
permanent crops: 4.65%
other: 84.4% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
30 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
cyclonic storms can occur from November to January
Environment - current issues:
deforestation; soil erosion
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
includes 332 islands of which approximately 110 are inhabited
People Fiji
880,874 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 31.7% (male 142,412; female 136,754)
15-64 years: 64.3% (male 283,690; female 283,027)
65 years and over: 4% (male 16,047; female 18,944) (2004 est.)
Median age:
total: 24 years
male: 23.6 years
female: 24.4 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.41% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:
22.91 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate:
5.68 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate:
-3.14 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.85 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 12.99 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 11.54 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 14.36 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 69.2 years
male: 66.74 years
female: 71.79 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.78 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
300 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: Fijian(s)
adjective: Fijian
Ethnic groups:
Fijian 51% (predominantly Melanesian with a Polynesian admixture), Indian 44%, European, other Pacific Islanders, overseas Chinese, and other 5% (1998 est.)
Christian 52% (Methodist 37%, Roman Catholic 9%), Hindu 38%, Muslim 8%, other 2%
note: Fijians are mainly Christian, Indians are Hindu, and there is a Muslim minority (1986)
English (official), Fijian, Hindustani
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.7%
male: 95.5%
female: 91.9% (2003 est.)
Government Fiji
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of the Fiji Islands
conventional short form: Fiji
Government type:
note: military coup leader Maj. Gen. Sitiveni RABUKA formally declared Fiji a republic on 6 October 1987
Suva (Viti Levu)
Administrative divisions:
4 divisions and 1 dependency*; Central, Eastern, Northern, Rotuma*, Western
10 October 1970 (from UK)
National holiday:
Independence Day, second Monday of October (1970)
promulgated on 25 July 1990 and amended on 25 July 1997 to allow nonethnic Fijians greater say in government and to make multiparty government mandatory; entered into force 28 July 1998; note - the May 1999 election was the first test of the amended constitution and introduced open voting - not racially prescribed - for the first time at the national level
Legal system:
based on British system
21 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Ratu Josefa ILOILOVATU Uluivuda (since NA 2000); Vice President Jope SENILOLI (since NA 2000)
head of government: Prime Minister Laisenia QARASE (since 10 September 2000)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the prime minister from among the members of Parliament and is responsible to Parliament; note - there is also a Presidential Council that advises the president on matters of national importance and a Great Council of Chiefs, which consists of the highest ranking members of the traditional chief system
elections: president elected by the Great Council of Chiefs for a five-year term; prime minister appointed by the president
election results: Ratu Josefa ILOILOVATU Uluivuda elected president by the Great Council of Chiefs; percent of vote - NA%
Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (34 seats; 24 appointed by the President on the advice of the Great Council of Chiefs, nine appointed by the president, and one appointed by the council of Rotuma) and the House of Representatives (71 seats; 23 reserved for ethnic Fijians, 19 reserved for ethnic Indians, three reserved for other ethnic groups, one reserved for the council of Rotuma constituency encompassing the whole of Fiji, and 25 open seats; members serve five-year terms)
elections: House of Representatives - last held 25 August through 1 September, 19 September 2001 (next to be held not later than September 2006)
election results: House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - FLP 26.5%, SDL 27.5%, NFP 1.2%, MV 4.2%, NLUP 1.3%, UGP .3%, independents 1.4%; seats by party - FLP 27, SDL 32, MV 6, NFP 1, NLUP 2, UGP 1, independents 2
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the president); Court of Appeal; High Court; Magistrates' Courts
Political parties and leaders:
Bai Kei Viti Party or BKV [Ratu Tevita MOMOEDONU]; Conservative Alliance Party/Matanitu Vanua or MV [Ratu Rakuita VAKALALABURE]; Dodonu Ni Taukei Party or DNT [Fereti S. DEWA]; Fiji Democratic Party or FDP [Felipe BOLE] (a merger of the Christian Democrat Alliance or VLV [Poesci Waqalevu BUNE], Fijian Association Party or FAP [Adi Kuini SPEED], Fijian Political Party or SVT (primarily Fijian) [Felipe BOLE], and New Labor Unity Party or NLUP [Tupeni BABA]); Fiji Labor Party or FLP [Mahendra CHAUDRHRY]; General Voters Party or GVP [leader NA] (became part of United General Party); Girmit Heritage Party or GHP [leader NA]; Justice and Freedom Party or AIM [leader NA]; Lio 'On Famor Rotuma Party or LFR [leader NA]; National Federation Party or NFP (primarily Indian) [Pramond RAE]; Nationalist Vanua Takolavo Party or NVTLP [Saula TELAWA]; Party of National Unity or PANU [Meli BOGILEKA]; Party of the Truth or POTT [leader NA]; United Fiji Party/Sogosogo Duavata ni Lewenivanua or SDL [Laisenia QARASE]; United General Party or UGP [Millis Mick BEDDOES]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Anare JALE
FAX: [1] (202) 337-1996
telephone: [1] (202) 337-8320
chancery: 2233 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Suite 240, Washington, DC 20007
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador David L. LYON
embassy: 31 Loftus Street, Suva
mailing address: P. O. Box 218, Suva
telephone: [679] 331-4466
FAX: [679] 330-0081
Flag description:
light blue with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and the Fijian shield centered on the outer half of the flag; the shield depicts a yellow lion above a white field quartered by the cross of Saint George featuring stalks of sugarcane, a palm tree, bananas, and a white dove
Economy Fiji
Economy - overview:
Fiji, endowed with forest, mineral, and fish resources, is one of the most developed of the Pacific island economies, though still with a large subsistence sector. Sugar exports and a growing tourist industry - with 300,000 to 400,000 tourists annually - are the major sources of foreign exchange. Sugar processing makes up one-third of industrial activity. Long-term problems include low investment, uncertain land ownership rights, and the government's ability to manage its budget. Yet short-run economic prospects are good, provided tensions do not again erupt between indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians.
purchasing power parity - $5.007 billion (2003 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
4.8% (2003 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $5,800 (2003 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 16.6%
industry: 22.4%
services: 61% (2001 est.)
Population below poverty line:
25.5% (1990-91)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
1.6% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
137,000 (1999)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture, including subsistence agriculture 70% (2001 est.)
Unemployment rate:
7.6% (1999)
revenues: $427.9 million
expenditures: $531.4 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.)
tourism, sugar, clothing, copra, gold, silver, lumber, small cottage industries
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
520.1 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 18.5%
hydro: 81.5%
other: 0% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
483.7 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
5,700 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
Oil - imports:
Agriculture - products:
sugarcane, coconuts, cassava (tapioca), rice, sweet potatoes, bananas; cattle, pigs, horses, goats; fish
$609 million f.o.b. (2002)
Exports - commodities:
sugar, garments, gold, timber, fish, molasses, coconut oil
Exports - partners:
US 25.5%, Australia 19.7%, UK 10.7%, Japan 6.4%, Samoa 5.6% (2002)
$835 million c.i.f. (2002)
Imports - commodities:
manufactured goods, machinery and transport equipment, petroleum products, food, chemicals
Imports - partners:
Australia 37.5%, New Zealand 17.2%, Singapore 16%, Japan 4.2%, China 4.1% (2002)
Debt - external:
$188.1 million (2001 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$40.3 million (1995)
Fijian dollar (FJD)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Fijian dollars per US dollar - 1.9 (2003), 2.19 (2002), 2.28 (2001), 2.13 (2000), 1.97 (1999)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Fiji
Telephones - main lines in use:
97,500 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
89,900 (2002)
Telephone system:
general assessment: modern local, interisland, and international (wire/radio integrated) public and special-purpose telephone, telegraph, and teleprinter facilities; regional radio communications center
domestic: NA
international: country code - 679; access to important cable links between US and Canada as well as between NZ and Australia; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 13, FM 40, shortwave 0 (1998)
541,476 (1999)
Television broadcast stations:
88,110 (1999)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
785 (2002)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
2 (2000)
Internet users:
50,000 (2002)
Transportation Fiji
total: 597 km
narrow gauge: 597 km 0.600-m gauge
note: belongs to the government-owned Fiji Sugar Corporation; used to haul sugarcane during harvest season (May to September) (2002)
total: 3,440 km
paved: 1,692 km
unpaved: 1,748 km (1999 est.)
203 km
note: 122 km navigable by motorized craft and 200-metric-ton barges
Ports and harbors:
Lambasa, Lautoka, Levuka, Malau, Savusavu, Suva, Vuda
Merchant marine:
total: 2 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 6,372 GRT/7,453 DWT
foreign-owned: Australia 1, Singapore 1 (2003 est.)
by type: chemical tanker 1, passenger 1
28 (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 3
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2003 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 25
914 to 1,523 m: 6
under 914 m: 19 (2003 est.)
Military Fiji
Military branches:
Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF): Land Forces, Naval Division
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2004 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 239,221 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 131,349 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 9,302 (2004 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$34 million (2003)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
2.2% (FY02)
Transnational Issues Fiji
Disputes - international: