/fee"jee/, n.
1. an independent archipelago of some 800 islands in the S Pacific, N of New Zealand, composed of the Fiji Islands and a smaller group to the NW: formerly a British colony, now a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. 792,441; 7040 sq. mi. (18,235 sq. km). Cap.: Suva.
2. Fijian (def. 2).

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Introduction Fiji -
Background: 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 of 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
Location: 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: Oceania
Area: 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
Coastline: 1,129 km
Maritime claims: measured from claimed archipelagic baselines territorial sea: 12 NM exclusive economic zone: 200 NM continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation; rectilinear shelf claim added
Climate: tropical marine; only slight seasonal temperature variation
Terrain: 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 party to: Biodiversity, Climate
agreements: Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, 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 -
Population: 856,346 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 32.5% (male 141,757; female 136,198) 15-64 years: 63.8% (male 273,658; female 273,100) 65 years and over: 3.7% (male 14,648; female 16,985) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.41% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 23.2 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 5.72 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: -3.35 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 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: 0.86 male(s)/ female total population: 1.01 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 13.72 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 68.56 years female: 71.11 years (2002 est.) male: 66.13 years
Total fertility rate: 2.83 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.07% (1999 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ 85 (2000 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: 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.)
Religions: 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)
Languages: English (official), Fijian, Hindustani
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 92.5% male: 90% female: 95% (1999 est.) Government Fiji -
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of the Fiji Islands conventional short form: Fiji
Government type: republic note: military coup leader Maj. Gen. Sitiveni RABUKA formally declared Fiji a republic on 6 October 1987
Capital: Suva Administrative divisions: 4 divisions and 1 dependency*; Central, Eastern, Northern, Rotuma*, Western
Independence: 10 October 1970 (from UK)
National holiday: Independence Day, second Monday of October (1970)
Constitution: 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
Suffrage: 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); Deputy Prime Minister Ratu Epeli NAILATIKAU (since NA 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 chiefly 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 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, 2 September, 19 September 2001 (next to be held NA September 2006) election results: House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - FLP 34.8%, SDL 26%, NFP 10.1%, MV 9.9%, independents 2.7%, other 16.5%; seats by party - SDL 32, FLP 27, MV 6, NFP 1, independents 2, other 3
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]; Christian Democrat Alliance or VLV [leader NA]; Conservative Alliance Party/ Matanitu Vanua or MV [Ratu Rakuita VAKALALABURE]; Dodonu Ni Taukei Party or DNT [leader NA]; Fiji Labor Party or FLP [Mahendra CHAUDRHRY]; Fijian Association Party of FAP [Adi Kuini SPEED]; Fijian Political Party or SVT (primarily Fijian) [Felipe BOLE]; General Voters Party or GHP [leader NA]; 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) [Attar SINGH]; Nationalist Vanua Tako Lavo Party or NVTLP [Samisoni BOLATAGICI]; New Labor Unity Party or NLUP [Tupeni BABA]; Party of National Unity or PANU [leader NA]; Party of the Truth or POTT [leader NA]; United Fiji Party/Sogosogo Duavata ni Lewenivanua or SDL [Laisenia QARASE]; United General Party or UGP [Mick BEDDOES] Political pressure groups and NA
leaders: International organization ACP, AsDB, C, CCC, CP, ESCAP, FAO,
participation: G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, ISO (subscriber), ITU, OPCW, PCA, Sparteca, SPC, SPF, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNIKOM, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNTAET, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Anare JALE FAX: [1] (202) 337-1996 telephone: [1] (202) 337-8320 chancery: Suite 240, 2233 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20007 Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Ambassador
US: (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Ronald K. McMULLEN embassy: 31 Loftus Street, Suva mailing address: P. O. Box 218, Suva telephone: [679] 314466 FAX: [679] 300081
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 and uncertain property rights. The political turmoil in Fiji has had a severe impact with the economy shrinking by 2.8% in 2000 and growing by only 1% in 2001. The Fiji Visitor's Bureau expects visitor arrivals to reach pre-coup levels during 2002. The government's ability to manage its budget - which is expected to run a net deficit of 6% in 2002 - will depend upon a return of political stability and investor confidence.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $4.4 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 1% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $5,200 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 17% industry: 25% services: 58% (2000 est.) Population below poverty line: 25.5% (1990-91) Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA% Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3% (2000 est.)
Labor force: 137,000 (1999) Labor force - by occupation: agriculture, including subsistence agriculture 70% (2001 est.)
Unemployment rate: 7.6% (1999)
Budget: revenues: $427.9 million expenditures: $531.4 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.)
Industries: tourism, sugar, clothing, copra, gold, silver, lumber, small cottage industries Industrial production growth rate: NA% Electricity - production: 515 million kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 18.06% hydro: 81.94% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 478.95 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: sugarcane, coconuts, cassava (tapioca), rice, sweet potatoes, bananas; cattle, pigs, horses, goats; fish
Exports: $572 million (f.o.b., 2000)
Exports - commodities: sugar, garments, gold, timber, fish, molasses, coconut oil
Exports - partners: Australia 24.9%, US 20.8%, UK 14.4%, Japan 5.1%, other Pacific island countries 5.0%, NZ 3.6% (2000)
Imports: $833 million (c.i.f., 2000)
Imports - commodities: manufactured goods, machinery and transport equipment, petroleum products, food, chemicals
Imports - partners: Australia 46.2%, NZ 13.1%, Singapore 6.6%, Japan 4.5%, Hong Kong 3.8%, US 3.2%, Taiwan 3.0% (2000)
Debt - external: $162.7 million (1999) Economic aid - recipient: $40.3 million (1995)
Currency: Fijian dollar (FJD)
Currency code: FJD
Exchange rates: Fijian dollars per US dollar - 2.2934 (January 2002), 2.2766 (2001), 2.1286 (2000), 1.9696 (1999), 1.9868 (1998), 1.4437 (1997)
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications Fiji - Telephones - main lines in use: 80,901 (1999) Telephones - mobile cellular: 5,200 (1997)
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: 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)
Radios: 541,476 (1999) Television broadcast stations: NA
Televisions: 88,110 (1999)
Internet country code: .fj Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 2 (2000)
Internet users: 7,500 (2000) Transportation Fiji -
Railways: total: 597 km narrow gauge: 597 km 0.610-m gauge note: belongs to the government- owned Fiji Sugar Corporation (1995)
Highways: total: 3,440 km paved: 1,692 km unpaved: 1,748 km (1996)
Waterways: 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: 6 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 11,870 GRT/14,787 DWT ships by type: chemical tanker 2, passenger 1, petroleum tanker 1, roll on/roll off 1, specialized tanker 1, includes some foreign- owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Australia 1, Singapore 4 (2002 est.)
Airports: 27 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 3 over 3,047 m: 1 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 24 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 914 to 1,523 m: 5 under 914 m: 18 (2001) Military Fiji -
Military branches: Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF), includes ground forces, naval division Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age (2002 est.) Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 231,649 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 127,384 (2002 est.)
service: Military manpower - reaching males: 9,471 (2002 est.)
military age annually: Military expenditures - dollar $35 million (FY00)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of 2.2% (FY00)
GDP: Transnational Issues Fiji - Disputes - international: none

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officially Republic of Fiji

Country and archipelago, South Pacific Ocean.

It lies east of Vanuatu and southwest of Samoa. Area: 7,055 sq mi (18,272 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 824,000. Capital: Suva. The majority of Fijians are of mixed Melanesian-Polynesian stock. Languages: English (official), Fijian. Religions: Methodism, Hinduism (among the large Asian Indian minority). Currency: Fiji dollar. Fiji lies 1,300 mi (2,100 km) north of New Zealand and comprises some 540 islets and 300 islands, of which about 100 are inhabited. The main islands are Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. Fiji also includes, since 1881, Rotuma, an island located about 400 mi (640 km) to the northwest. The two large islands are mountainous and volcanic in origin, rising abruptly from densely populated coasts to forested central mountains. The smaller islands are formed mostly of coral reefs. The coastal deltas of the principal rivers contain most of the fertile arable land. The climate is tropical oceanic. Fiji has a market economy based largely on agriculture (particularly sugar production), tourism, and light industries; significant quantities of gold, silver, and limestone are mined. Fiji is a republic with two legislative houses; its chief of state is the president, while the head of government is the prime minister. Archaeological evidence shows that the islands were occupied in the late 2nd millennium BC and had developed pottery by с 1300 BC. The first European sighting was by the Dutch in the 16th century; in 1774 the islands were visited by Capt. James Cook, who found a mixed Melanesian-Polynesian population with a complex society. Traders and the first missionaries arrived in 1835. In 1857 a British consul was appointed, and in 1874 Fiji was proclaimed a crown colony. It became independent as a member of the Commonwealth in 1970 and was declared a republic in 1987 following a military coup. Elections in 1992 restored civilian rule. A new constitution was approved in 1997.

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▪ 2009

18,272 sq km (7,055 sq mi)
(2008 est.): 839,000
Chief of state:
President Ratu Josefa Iloilovatu Uluivuda
Head of government:
Prime Minister Voreque Bainimarama (interim)

      A standoff between Fiji's interim government and its Pacific neighbours continued throughout 2008. At the heart of the tension was the timing of an election originally scheduled for early 2009. Interim prime minister Voreque Bainimarama continued to insist that the objectives of the 2006 coup—the elimination of corruption in public and private institutions and the adoption of a People's Charter for a new Fiji—should precede general elections and the return of an elected government. To that end, the National Council for Building a Better Fiji continued to work on the People's Charter for Change, Peace and Progress and by August was circulating a draft charter for public comment.

      The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) appointed a working group to assist the interim government in its preparations for elections. Technical difficulties arose from the interim government's determination to replace existing communal rolls with a single consolidated electoral roll, which proved more complicated than anticipated. The electoral process was further delayed when the recent appointment of a new supervisor of elections was overturned. Fiji withdrew from the PIF's working group in July and in August chose not to attend the PIF's annual meeting. Bainimarama further indicated that criticism by the PIF might lead Fiji to withdraw from that body, but Fiji did not act on that threat.

Cluny Macpherson

▪ 2008

18,272 sq km (7,055 sq mi)
(2007 est.): 839,000
Chief of state:
Presidents Voreque Bainimarama (acting) and, from January 4, Ratu Josefa Iloilo
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Jona Senilagakali and, from January 5, Voreque Bainimarama (interim)

      At the beginning of 2007, Fiji military commander Voreque (“Frank”) Bainimarama (Bainimarama, Voreqe ), who in December 2006 had deposed the eight-month-old government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, stepped down as acting president and declared himself interim prime minister. Within the country short-lived opposition to the coup reflected both the military's efficiency and some public support for its determination to eliminate corruption in both Parliament and the Civil Service

      Opposition from international aid partners was more intense and sustained. Fiji was suspended from the Commonwealth of Nations, and aid was withheld until the country established a program for a return to civilian government. Donors also imposed “smart sanctions,” designed to limit the mobility of coup leaders (and their families) without imposing further hardship on Fiji's poor. Some observers assumed that the collapse of the gold industry, declining tourism, and the stagnation of the sugar industry would force the government to accede to donor demands. Bainimarama, however, seemed determined to resist pressure and to complete his reform program. He asserted that Fiji was not yet ready for civilian government and thus put at risk almost €300 million (about $400 million) of EU aid needed to restructure the sugar industry. In September 2007, when Qarase was allowed to return to Suva, Bainimarama reimposed a state of emergency and declared that the previous government would not be allowed to contest new elections.

Cluny Macpherson

▪ 2007

18,272 sq km (7,055 sq mi)
(2006 est.): 855,000
Chief of state:
Presidents Ratu Josefa Iloilo and, (acting) from December 5, Voreque Bainimarama
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Laisenia Qarase and, from December 6 (interim), Jona Senilagakali

      Despite the election of a new parliament in May 2006 and the establishment of a new multiparty cabinet under Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, the 2000 coup continued to cast a shadow over political life in Fiji and generated ongoing tension between the government and the military that culminated in the overthrow of Qarase's government in December.

      The systematic investigation, prosecution, and conviction of a large number of people, including politicians and military personnel, for offenses arising from the 2000 coup (and an associated military mutiny) appeared to have restored confidence in the law. A bill introduced in 2005 to grant amnesty for some perpetrators, however, was widely criticized by opposition parties, the military, and foreign governments. The head of the Fiji military, Commodore Voreque Bainimarama, feared that the proposed legislation would provide amnesty to those involved in the coup and mutiny and undermine national security. Despite talks in February aimed at securing a compromise, Bainimarama in October threatened to seek the “resignation of the government” if it enacted the legislation in an unacceptable form. The government raised the stakes by attempting to replace the commodore while he was overseas. After failing to find someone willing to take Bainimarama's place, Qarase agreed to remove amnesty provisions, but Bainimarama demanded the withdrawal of that bill and two other land bills. The commodore provided an expanded list of nine demands, which by then included the removal of the police commissioner, who had announced that the police were investigating a sedition case against Bainimarama, as well as the dropping of these sedition charges and the removal from government of any person involved in the 2000 coup. After hastily convened talks, brokered by New Zealand, Qarase made additional concessions. Bainimarama, however, declared that these changes were inadequate, that the list was nonnegotiable, and that martial law would be imposed on December 1, assuring Fijians that it would be peaceful.

      After a slight postponement, Bainimarama on December 5 initiated the fourth coup in Fiji in 20 years. He declared himself to be the acting head of state and replaced Qarase with Jona Senilagakali, a military doctor who was sworn in the next day as interim prime minister. The coup triggered widespread international and domestic condemnation. Several countries, including the U.S. and New Zealand, imposed sanctions, and the Commonwealth suspended Fiji's membership.

      This had an immediate impact on the economy; the tourism industry faced large numbers of cancellations, which threatened the employment of hotel and other service workers. Warnings that Fijian soldiers might no longer be included in UN peacekeeping also were expected to have a serious impact on Fijian income, and the significant flow of EU aid could be suspended, with consequences for local development projects. Apart from the aftereffects of the coup, the economy was already slowing as the date approached for the loss of preferential trade agreements for Fiji's two major exports, sugar and clothing. Workers in both industries faced job losses, and structural reforms intended to revitalize the economy caused temporary declines in the standard of living.

Cluny Macpherson

▪ 2006

18,272 sq km (7,055 sq mi)
(2005 est.): 846,000
Chief of state:
President Ratu Josefa Iloilo
Head of government:
Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase

      In Fiji the 2000 coup continued to cast a shadow over political life in 2005. The number of people charged with related offenses, including treason, sedition, murder, and unlawful assembly, had reached 566, and most of those charged had been convicted, including 122 serving military personnel. A number of politicians were also implicated, with some returning to high political office after serving a prison sentence.

      The government's reconciliation, tolerance, and unity bill, introduced in May, aroused further controversy. Proposals for a commission that could grant amnesty to perpetrators and approve compensation for victims were seen as an attempt to undermine the judicial process, an attack on human rights, and a device for absolving those still under investigation. The provisions were criticized by opposition parties, the military commander, and the governments of the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand. In September, Prime Minster Laisenia Qarase announced that the amnesty provisions would be revised.

      Although the economy achieved 3.8% growth in 2004, largely on the back of strong tourism growth, 2005 was less buoyant. Fiji faced the end of a garment-industry quota for the American market as well as a decline in sugar revenues projected from 2007 with the phasing out of a European Union price-support scheme. As partial compensation, the EU offered to provide development assistance to the industry.

      In September heavy rain caused serious flooding in southeastern Viti Levu, which led to one death, serious disruption of services, hospital evacuations, and many residents left homeless.

Barrie Macdonald

▪ 2005

18,272 sq km (7,055 sq mi)
(2004 est.): 839,000
Chief of state:
President Ratu Josefa Iloilo
Head of government:
Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase

      Fiji mourned the death in April 2004 of Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, the country's first prime minister (1970–92; except for a few months in 1987) and president from 1994 until he was deposed in a coup in 2000. (See Obituaries (Mara, Ratu Sir Kamisese ).) Mara's wife of more than 50 years, Ro Lady Litia Mara, died in July.

      The 2000 coup continued to cast a shadow in 2004; four serving politicians, including the vice president and deputy speaker, were convicted of treason and imprisoned for having taken illegal oaths of office during the coup. Courts-martial of soldiers for mutiny, also during the coup, led to several convictions. The opposition Fiji Labour Party (FLP) boycotted events during a week of national reconciliation in October. The FLP also rejected cabinet positions, forced upon Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase by the Supreme Court, because the portfolios offered were all minor and party leader Mahendra Chaudhry was excluded.

      The economy continued to struggle, with a heavy dependence on tourism and, increasingly, on remittances from overseas workers (especially soldiers in UN peacekeeping roles), which reached $F 245 million (about U.S.$140 million) in 2003. The sugar industry was affected by the nonrenewal of Indian-held leases by indigenous Fijian landowners, which reduced the area under cultivation and accelerated the shift of the population to the towns. In October, Fiji agreed to provide some 150 soldiers for UN peacekeeping in Iraq.

Barrie Macdonald

▪ 2004

18,272 sq km (7,055 sq mi)
(2003 est.): 827,000
Chief of state:
President Ratu Josefa Iloilo
Head of government:
Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase

      A Fiji Supreme Court ruling in 2003 obliged Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase to include members of the Fiji Labour Party (FLP) in his cabinet, but there was disagreement over the number of places to be allocated and the overall size of the cabinet. Qarase also excluded FLP leader Mahendra Chaudhry. The issue was referred back to the court. During the year there were treason convictions for participants in the failed coup of 2000, including prominent politicians, and charges were filed against leaders of a related mutiny within the army.

      In January Cyclone Ami ripped through the northern and eastern districts, causing at least 14 deaths and an estimated $35 million in damage. Continuing drought, especially in western districts, affected agricultural and domestic water supplies, led to the loss of pine forests through fire, and compromised the hydroelectricity system. There was a slow recovery of tourism after SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and security scares. The sugar industry remained dependent on EU subsidies, though an Asian Development Bank loan of $25 million was to be used to support alternative projects for farmers. The Fiji Sugar Corp. had been unable to handle all of the sugar produced in 2002, and its attempts to reduce the harvest for 2003 were thwarted by farmers. Remittances from workers and migrants living overseas reached a record $116 million, reflecting recent out-migration and the number of Fijian servicemen on peacekeeping missions.

Barrie Macdonald

▪ 2003

18,272 sq km (7,055 sq mi)
(2002 est.): 824,000
Chief of state:
President Ratu Josefa Iloilo
Head of government:
Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase

      The aftereffects of the May 2000 coup continued to dominate Fijian politics in 2002. Former prime minister Sitiveni Rabuka was implicated as one of the instigators of the rebellion, and a paramount Fijian chief was charged with conspiracy for similar involvement.

      Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, an ethnic Fijian, appealed to the Supreme Court in defense of his decision to ignore a constitutional stipulation that he include in his cabinet representatives of the main opposition party, the Indian-dominated Labour Party. The government also came under scrutiny by the auditor general, who reported widespread abuse of government funds through fraud, waste, and mismanagement. As part of its Twenty Year Development Plan released in September, the government proposed affirmative action policies that would give tax relief to businesses owned and managed by indigenous Fijians and grant greater protection to indigenous land and fisheries rights.

      Fiji's sugar industry was threatened with legal action. European Union subsidies, which had allowed the purchase of sugar at 1.5–2 times those of international prices, were challenged as excessive by Australia and Brazil.

      An important archaeological discovery on Moturiki Island suggested that human settlement in Fiji first took place about 2,600–2,900 years ago, much earlier than previously thought.

Barrie Macdonald

▪ 2002

18,272 sq km (7,055 sq mi)
(2001 est.): 827,000
Chief of state:
President (interim until March 15) Ratu Josefa Iloilo
Head of government:
Prime Minister (interim until March 15) Laisenia Qarase

      On Oct. 1, 2001—after more than a year of political instability stemming from a coup in May 2000, when Fiji's Parliament was stormed by ethnic-Fijian armed nationalists—newly elected lawmakers were sworn in amid tight security. Though coup leader George Speight was elected to Parliament, he remained in prison on treason and firearms charges. His absence from proceedings prompted the Speaker of the House to vacate his seat.

      Following general elections in August and September, in which Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase's nationalist United Fiji Party won 32 seats and 26% of the vote and the Indian-dominated Fiji Labour Party (FLP) of former prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry won 27 seats and 34.8% of the vote, Qarase refused to follow a constitutional provision requiring representation in the cabinet for all parties securing 10% of the vote. Chaudhry challenged the Qarase government in court and awaited a decision. The government, stung by criticisms and the imposition of sanctions by traditional international partners, announced a foreign policy that would look more to East and Southeast Asia, especially in matters of trade. In recognition of Fiji's return to democracy, the country was readmitted as a full member of the Commonwealth in December.

      Though increased numbers of asylum-seeking Afghan and Iraqi refugees reached Australian waters via Indonesia, Fiji declined a request by Australia to establish a refugee-processing centre, owing to strong public sentiment against it. The gradual recovery of the economy, especially tourism, was challenged following the September terrorist attacks in the U.S.

Barrie Macdonald

▪ 2001

18,272 sq km (7,055 sq mi)
(2000 est.): 819,000
Chief of state:
Presidents Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara and, from July 18 (interim), Ratu Josefa Iloilo
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Mahendra Chaudhry and, from July 28 (interim), Laisenia Qarase

      On May 19, 2000, the Fijian government was overthrown in a civilian coup. Dozens of hostages were taken, including Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry and 17 others, who were held for 56 days in the parliamentary complex. The coup was led by George Speight, a failed businessman who had ties to radical ethnic Fijian groups. (See Biographies (Speight, George ).) Among the demands of Speight and his followers was that Fiji's constitution be replaced so that Indo-Fijians (descendants of indentured labourers taken to Fiji from India in the colonial period) would be excluded from the government. Elected only a year earlier, the Chaudhry government had alienated ethnic Fijians because it was dominated by Indo-Fijians, despite the fact that Indo-Fijians made up only 44% of the country's population.

      The army, whose troops were almost exclusively ethnic Fijian, nevertheless played a central role in negotiating the accord that ended the coup peacefully. Under the terms of the accord, amnesty was granted to those who had participated in the coup, and the last of the hostages were released on July 13. Two weeks later, however, Speight and his rebels were arrested; the amnesty agreement was later declared invalid because the military failed to hand over its weapons and the hostage standoff meant the army commander had signed “under duress. In August Speight and 12 others were charged with treason; all remained in custody awaiting trial.

      In November, Justice Tony Gates of Fiji's High Court ruled that the 1997 Constitution, which had been discarded by the military after the May coup, was still in force. As a result, Gates declared that the military-installed interim government had no legitimacy. He urged Parliament to convene to hammer out the issue.

      Political instability had a major impact on the economy. A sharp drop in tourism occurred, and the sugar harvest was disrupted. Because of the threat of international trade sanctions, Fiji's garment industry also suffered. An estimated 7,500 jobs were lost in the months following the coup.

Barrie Macdonald

▪ 2000

18,272 sq km (7,055 sq mi)
(1999 est.): 813,000
Chief of state:
President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Sitiveni Rabuka and, from May 19, Mahendra Chaudhry

      After the May 1999 election, the first under the new constitution, Fiji had its first Indo-Fijian prime minister—Mahendra Chaudhry, leader of the Fiji Labour Party and a former trade unionist. The Fijian Political Party government of Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka suffered a heavy defeat, winning only 8 of 71 seats and seeing its potential coalition partner, the National Federation Party, win no seats at all. Both ethnic Fijian and Indo-Fijian voters turned against this unlikely alliance, which brought together former coup leader Rabuka and his principal opponent. The Fiji Labour Party secured a majority of seats in the House of Representatives and entered into coalition with the Fijian Association Party, which had strong ties to Fiji's traditional indigenous leaders. Rabuka resigned from Parliament and was elected chair of the Great Council of Chiefs, a body with wide influence as well as a formal constitutional role.

      The budget for 2000 was based on gross domestic product projections of 2% growth and 1% inflation in 1999. Debt was forecast to be less than 40% of GDP for the first time since 1996. The value-added tax was to be removed from basic food items from 2000, although excise taxes on tobacco, beer, and spirits would increase.

Barrie Macdonald

▪ 1999

      Area: 18,272 sq km (7,055 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 793,000

      Capital: Suva

      Chief of state: President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara

      Head of government: Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka

      After having conducted a commission of inquiry and extensive public consultations, Fiji introduced a new constitution in July 1998. The document, which protected the preeminent position of ethnic Fijians, also included a bill of rights and provision for a human rights commission. In recognition of these, India, which had severed relations with Fiji in 1987, reestablished diplomatic representation. In October the Christian Democratic Alliance Party was formed, declaring its intention to support the traditional political system, which is based on leadership by chiefs.

      The economy contracted by 2.5% in 1997, with an additional 3% drop predicted for 1998. Because of global economic trends, the Asian economic crisis, and declining commodity prices, Fiji's currency was devalued by 20% in January. This adjustment helped boost employment in the garment industry and encouraged tourism, which had record receipts in the first six months of 1998 and the highest number of visitors ever (37,500) in August 1998.

      By April Fiji was facing its worst drought in more than 50 years, with crops seriously affected and water shortages in many urban areas. The production of raw sugarcane was almost halved, and more than half of the country's 22,000 sugar farmers lost their entire crop. In May the government allocated F$38,000,000 ($19,460,000) for crop rehabilitation, and in September sugar farmers received interest-free loans totaling F$8,000,000.


▪ 1998

      Area: 18,272 sq km (7,055 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 778,000

      Capital: Suva

      Chief of state: President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara

      Head of government: Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka

      In July 1997 the House of Representatives and Senate unanimously approved a new constitution for Fiji. Acceptance of proposals based on recommendations of a constitutional commission represented a triumph for Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, who had worked with opposition leader Jai Ram Reddy to overcome the distrust engendered by the coups of 1987. The new constitution, scheduled to take effect in July 1998, provided for a multiracial Cabinet and raised the prospect of a coalition government. Following the approval of the new constitution, Fiji was readmitted to the Commonwealth of Nations. In May Fiji played host to the Melanesian Spearhead Group, an organization that emphasized opportunities for cooperative development and trade.

      The 1997 budget provided for expenditures of just over $1 billion. Inflation stood at 3.5% for the fiscal year. The year's sugar harvest was disrupted by strike action by mill workers. The Malaysian government joined in a venture to encourage entrepreneurial activity among ethnic Fijians, who in 1996 constituted approximately 51% of Fiji's population; 43% was Indian.

      In early March Cyclone Gavin wreaked havoc in Fiji, causing damage estimated at $25 million-$30 million. The cyclone also claimed at least 26 lives, 10 of them in the loss at sea of a fishing vessel.

      This article updates Fiji.

▪ 1997

      The republic of Fiji occupies an island group in the South Pacific Ocean. Area: 18,272 sq km (7,055 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 802,000. Cap.: Suva. Monetary unit: Fiji dollar, with (Oct. 11, 1996) a free rate of F$1.40 to U.S. $1 (F$2.20 = £ 1 sterling). President in 1996, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara; prime minister, Sitiveni Rabuka.

      The review commission on Fiji's racially prescriptive constitution presented its report in September 1996. The proposed new constitution would reserve 12 of the 70 seats in the House of Representatives for ethnic Fijians and other Pacific Islanders, 10 for Indians, and 3 for others. While 25 members would be elected from ethnically defined constituencies, 45 would come from multiracial and multimember constituencies. The prime minister would no longer have to be an ethnic Fijian.

      The economy grew 2.9% in 1995, despite a 12% drop in sugar receipts. Inflation was projected at 2% for 1996. For 1997 the government projected expenditures of F$893 million and revenue of F$737 million, leaving a net deficit after aid and borrowing of F$92.2 million (3.6% of gross domestic product). (BARRIE MACDONALD)

      This article updates Fiji.

▪ 1996

      The republic of Fiji occupies an island group in the South Pacific Ocean. Area: 18,272 sq km (7,055 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 791,000. Cap.: Suva. Monetary unit: Fiji dollar, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of F$1.41 to U.S. $1 (F$2.22 = £ 1 sterling). President in 1995, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara; prime minister, Sitiveni Rabuka.

      In November 1994 the government initiated a review of Fiji's racially biased constitution, but early submissions indicated little willingness to compromise. Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka reconstituted his government on several occasions in 1995 to cope with divisions within the coalition. Rabuka also initiated court action to overturn the findings of a commission that implicated him in improper government dealings. It was alleged that the National Bank of Fiji had issued unauthorized and unsecured loans, had failed to insure secured assets, had not been properly audited, and had a shortfall in funds of F$80 million.

      The 1995 government budget projected a deficit of F$62 million (2.5% of gross domestic product) from revenue of F$694 million. Income tax on those with low incomes was decreased, but indirect taxes on alcohol, tobacco, and motor vehicles increased. In 1994 a record amount of sugar (516,589 metric tons) was exported. Economic growth for 1995 was projected at 2.7%.

      A government plan to allow the immigration of 28,000 Hong Kong Chinese who could pay U.S.$130,000 aroused strong criticism. Fiji also protested Japan's proposed shipment of plutonium through the region and the renewal of French nuclear testing. (BARRIE MACDONALD)

      This updates the article Fiji.

▪ 1995

      The republic of Fiji occupies an island group in the South Pacific Ocean. Area: 18,274 sq km (7,056 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 771,000. Cap.: Suva. Monetary unit: Fiji dollar, with (Oct. 7, 1994) a free rate of F$1.44 to U.S. $1 (F$2.30 = £ 1 sterling). President in 1994, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara; prime minister, Sitiveni Rabuka.

      In November 1993 six members of Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka's Fijian Political Party voted with the opposition against the 1994 budget, forcing a general election. Led by Josefata Kamikamica, a former deputy prime minister, the dissidents fought the February 1994 election under the banner of the Fijian Association. At the same time, the Fiji Labour Party (FLP), which had become increasingly dependent on Indo-Fijian support since the death of its former leader, Timoci Bavadra, lost ground to the National Federation Party (NFP), which had traditionally enjoyed strong Indo-Fijian support. Rabuka was returned to office, with the Fijian Political Party winning 31 of the 37 seats allotted to ethnic Fijians and also drawing the support of two independents and four members of the General Voters' Party. The Fijian Association won only five seats and was joined in opposition by the NFP with 20 seats and the FLP with 7.

      The revised 1994 budget showed a projected income of F$694.9 million and expenditure of F$832.1 million; the deficit represented 2.9% of gross domestic product. Growth of 3.2% was projected for 1994. There were high returns from tourism and sugar, though the latter faced difficulty in the future because of planned changes in Fiji's access to the European Union. (BARRIE MACDONALD)

      This updates the article Fiji.

▪ 1994

      The republic of Fiji occupies an island group in the South Pacific Ocean. Area: 18,274 sq km (7,056 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 762,000. Cap.: Suva. Monetary unit: Fiji dollar, with (Oct. 4, 1993) a free rate of F$1.54 to U.S. $1 (F$2.34 = £ 1 sterling). Presidents in 1993, Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau (died December 15) and Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara (acting from December 15); prime minister, Sitiveni Rabuka.

      Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka surprised observers in December 1992 when he called for a government of national unity, with the aim of smoothing over ethnic and political divisions. Despite interparty talks, however, little progress was made.

      In June members of the predominantly Indian Fiji Labour Party walked out of Parliament over Rabuka's failure to fulfil promises made at the time of his appointment. In a conciliatory gesture the government established a constitutional review committee that included opposition members of Parliament. In December the government was defeated on its budget when a group of parliamentarians crossed the floor. Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka responded by calling a general election for early in the new year. Fiji lost its president, Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau, who died in Washington, D.C., on December 15.

      The government maintained the economic direction of its predecessor, taking further steps to deregulate the economy, reduce government spending, and promote growth. The deficit was held to 2.5% of gross domestic product, compared with 3.4% in 1992, and a 10% value-added tax was introduced. Cyclones Joni and Kina caused more than 20 deaths in early 1993 and destroyed four major bridges.

      It was estimated that ethnic Fijians outnumbered Indians by some 30,000 in June 1992. Over the preceding two years, 90% of all emigrants from Fiji had been Indian, 42% of them in professional, skilled, and managerial occupational categories. (BARRIE MACDONALD)

      This updates the article Fiji.

* * *

Fiji, flag of   country and archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean. It surrounds the Koro Sea about 1,300 miles (2,100 km) north of Auckland, N.Z. The archipelago consists of some 300 islands and 540 islets scattered over about 1,000,000 square miles (3,000,000 square km). Of the 300 islands, about 100 are inhabited. The capital, Suva, is on the southeast coast of the largest island, Viti Levu (“Great Fiji”).

Land (Fiji)

 Fiji has a complex geologic history. Based on a submerged platform of ancient formation, the Fiji islands are largely the product of volcanic action, sedimentary deposit, and formations of coral. Viti Levu has an area of about 4,000 square miles (10,000 square km) and accounts for more than half of Fiji's land area. A jagged dividing range running from north to south has several peaks above 3,000 feet (900 metres), including Tomanivi (formerly Mount Victoria), at 4,344 feet (1,324 metres) the highest point in Fiji. The main river systems—the Rewa, Navua, Sigatoka (Singatoka), and Ba (Mba)—all have their headwaters in the central mountain area. To the southeast and southwest, as well as to the south where the range divides, the mountains give way to plateaus and then lowlands. The coastal plains in the west, northwest, and southeast account for less than one-fifth of Viti Levu's area but are the main centres of agriculture and settlement.

      Vanua Levu (Vanua Levu Island), the second largest island, has an area of about 2,140 square miles (5,540 square km). It is divided along its length by a mountain range with peaks rising to more than 3,000 feet. On the island's northern coast, away from the mouth of the Dreketi (Ndreketi) River, the coastal plains are narrow. Most of the other islands, including the Lomaiviti, Lau (Lau Group), and Yasawa (Yasawa Group) groups, are volcanic in origin, but, like the major islands, they are bounded by coral reefs, offshore rocks, and shoals that make the Koro Sea hazardous for navigation.

      At Suva the average summer high temperature is in the mid-80s F (about 29 °C), and the average winter low is in the high 60s F (about 20 °C); temperatures typically are lower in elevated inland areas. All districts receive the greatest amount of rainfall in the season from November through March, during which time tropical cyclones (hurricanes) are also experienced perhaps once every two years. While rainfall is reduced in the east of the larger islands from April to October, giving an annual average of about 120 inches (3,000 mm) per year, it virtually ceases in the west, to give an annual rainfall that approaches 70 inches (about 1,800 mm), thus making for a sharp contrast in both climatic conditions and agriculture between east and west.

Plant and animal life
      Almost half of Fiji's total area remains forested, while dry grasslands are found in western areas of the large islands. Coconut palms are common in coastal areas, and almost all tropical fruits and vegetables can be grown. Much of the shoreline is composed of reefs and rocks, while mangrove swamps are found on eastern coasts. There are few white-sand swimming beaches and, because of the encircling reef, little surf. Most animals, including pigs, dogs, cattle, and a few horses, are domesticated. Mongooses, introduced to prey on snakes and rats, are often seen.


Ethnic groups
 Although the indigenous Fijian (Fiji) people are usually classified as ethnically Melanesian (Melanesian culture), their social and political organization is closer to that of Polynesia (Polynesian culture), and there has been a high level of intermarriage between Fijians from the Lau Group of islands of eastern Fiji and the neighbouring Polynesian islands of Tonga. According to Fiji's constitution, all citizens are to be referred to as Fiji Islanders; the term Fijian is reserved for the indigenous people. For official purposes, citizens are referred to in terms of their ethnicity, such as Indian, Fijian, European, Part-European, or Pacific Islander..

      There are significant minorities of part-Europeans, Chinese, and Pacific Islanders who have origins outside Fiji. In the last group is the Polynesian population of the Fijian dependency of Rotuma (Rotuma Island)—an island of 18 square miles (47 square km) located about 400 miles (645 km) north-northwest of Suva—and the Banabans (Banaba). The latter were forced to leave their home island, Banaba, now part of Kiribati, after destruction during World War II made it uninhabitable. Many Banabans settled on Rabi (Rambi) Island, off the eastern coast of Vanua Levu. Fijians made up about half of the population at the end of the 20th century and Indians about two-fifths.

Languages and religion
      Under the 1998 constitution, English, Fijian, and Hindustani (Fijian Hindi) have equal status as the official languages. The widely used Fijian language has many dialects; the one most commonly used is known as Bauan Fijian and comes from Bau (Mbau), an island that enjoyed political supremacy at the advent of colonial rule. Most people speak at least two languages, including English and the language of their own ethnic community. Almost all indigenous Fijians are Christian, mostly Methodist. Most Indians are Hindu, though a significant minority are Muslim. The country also has a small Roman Catholic community.

Settlement patterns
      There is little intermarriage between ethnic communities. While Suva has a very mixed population, the sugar-producing regions of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu have predominantly Indian populations. On the smaller islands and in less-developed rural areas of the larger islands, indigenous Fijians live in traditional villages. About half the population lives in urban areas. The three largest urban centres are on Viti Levu: Suva, in the southeast, with about one-fourth of Fiji's total population; Nasinu, a suburb of Suva that experienced rapid growth in the late 20th and early 21st centuries; and Lautoka, in northwestern Viti Levu, the centre of the sugar industry and the location of a major port. Labasa (Lambasa), on Vanua Levu, is a centre for administration, services, and sugar production.

Demographic trends
      For four decades after World War II, indigenous Fijians were outnumbered by Indians, most of whom were descendants of indentured labourers brought to work in the sugar industry. However, after the government was overthrown in 1987, many Indians fled to Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, and Fijians regained a plurality. A small number of Indians, particularly in commerce and in professions such as medicine and law, are descended from free migrants.

      With rapid urbanization, especially on the fringes of Suva, came the emergence of squatter settlements and some social problems. The disparities of income between urban and rural workers, contrasting lifestyles within the urban areas, and high urban unemployment can be seen as factors that have contributed to both an escalating rate of crime and the rapid growth of a trade union movement.

 Fiji has an agriculture-based market economy, including a substantial subsistence sector dominated by indigenous Fijians who earn a supplementary cash income from cultivating copra, cocoa, kava, taro (locally called dalo), pineapples, cassava (manioc), or bananas or from fishing. The commercial sector is heavily based on garment manufacturing and on sugar, which, for the most part, is produced by independent Indian farmers.

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
      Sugar production is concentrated on the western side of Viti Levu and in the area around Labasa. The government-controlled Fiji Sugar Corporation has a monopoly on milling and marketing. The European Union (EU) is the biggest market for Fiji's sugar; Fiji has had preferential trade agreements with the EU, such as the 1975 Lomé Convention (which expired in 2000) and the subsequent Cotonou Agreement (2000). For much of the country's postindependence period, sugar was Fiji's largest export, accounting for more than half of all exports. In the early 21st century, however, international pressure brought about reforms in the EU sugar pricing structure, and Fiji saw its income from sugar decline. The Fijian industry was forced to institute its own structural changes, such as those aimed at increasing productivity, in order to survive. In addition, the growth of the garment industry and tourism has created a decline in sugar's relative importance to the economy.

      Except for a few years early in the 20th century, the alienation of native land has been prohibited since 1874, thus leaving nearly nine-tenths of all land under Fijian ownership. Farmers of other ethnic groups operate on leaseholds of up to 30 years under the Agricultural Landlord and Tenant Act. Fijian land ownership is in the hands of mataqali, or clan groups, but may be administered through the Native Lands Trust Board.

      Since large-scale systematic planting of pine forests began in the 1960s, a timber industry has developed for domestic use and export. Fishing has become increasingly important to the economy; in the early 21st century, fish products accounted for nearly one-tenth of export revenue.

Resources and power
      There is substantial hydroelectricity generation, but fuel remains a major import. Gold is mined, though production declined in the early 21st century, and one of the country's main mines closed. Silver is also mined. A copper mine began operation in 1997 at Namosi, inland from Suva.

      The garment industry has been a success story for Fiji. Utilizing a preferential trading agreement with Australia and New Zealand, overseas investors have helped provide employment for more than 20,000 locals as well as valuable foreign exchange. The industry accounted for nearly the same amount of revenue as food products (including sugar) in the early 21st century. A relatively new industry, the bottling of mineral water for export, has become increasingly important.

      Development plans have emphasized the need to reduce dependence on imported food, especially rice, meat, fish, and poultry products. Significant imports include mineral products, machinery, chemicals, and textiles. Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and the United States are the major sources of imports. Fiji exports petroleum products, sugar, fish, clothing, mineral water, and gold; major export destinations are Australia, Singapore, the United States, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand.

      Tourism created roughly three times the income produced by sugar in the late 1990s, making it Fiji's largest foreign exchange earner by far. Although political unrest in the early years of the 21st century severely affected the tourist sector, slashing visitor numbers, tourism is still a major part of the economy. Fiji is strategically located for air travelers from Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and Japan and is a major destination for tourist cruises. Tourism is based on the attractions of duty-free shopping and colourful handicraft markets as well as the usual draws of tropical islands. Many hotels are located on small offshore islands or secluded beaches and offer accommodations in houses of local design and materials rather than in urban-style multistory buildings.

      The economy has a strong service and light-industrial component serving small neighbouring countries as well as Fiji; activities range from boat-building (especially fishing boats and pleasure craft) to brewing and paint manufacture. The government offers incentives (including residence) for investors but insists on potential for job creation and training programs for local employees.

      The larger islands and many smaller ones are served by domestic air services, and there are several international airports. A coastal highway circles Viti Levu, and minor roads to the interior give access to most areas of settlement. For many villagers, however, river punts with outboard motors provide the most efficient form of transport, and from more-remote areas it may still be simplest to transport produce to market by floating it downriver on bamboo rafts. Regular bus services operate within and between the major towns.

Government and society

Constitutional framework
  Until the coups d'état of 1987, Fiji was a dominion, a member of the Commonwealth, and a parliamentary democracy that acknowledged the British sovereign through a governor-general, who served as head of state. The bicameral Parliament consisted of the House of Representatives and the Senate. In October 1987 Fiji was expelled from the Commonwealth (though it was readmitted in 1997) and became a republic. The coup leader, Lieut. Col. Sitiveni Rabuka, appointed a civilian government headed by a president with a largely ceremonial role. The government was composed of a prime minister and a cabinet of appointed members, almost all of whom were ethnic Fijians. On July 25, 1990, a new constitution, which concentrated power in the hands of Fijians, was promulgated.

      A revision of the 1990 document that was enacted in 1997 to moderate the concentration of power among Fijians came into effect in July 1998. The revised constitution eliminated the requirement that the prime minister be Fijian, though it provided that the holder of that office be appointed by the president, who in turn was appointed by the Bose Levu Vakaturaga (Great Council of Chiefs), a body composed of the hereditary leaders of the 70 major Fijian clans. According to the constitution, the House of Representatives is to have 71 members: 46 seats apportioned along ethnic lines (23 reserved for ethnic Fijians, 19 for Indians, 1 for a Rotuman, and 3 for members of other ethnic groups) and 25 open to candidates of any ethnicity. The Senate is to have 32 members, all appointed by the president on the advice of specific entities: 14 to be determined by the Bose Levu Vakaturaga, 9 by the prime minister, 8 by the opposition leader, and 1 by the Rotuma Council.

      Although the 1997 constitution was declared to be still in effect after yet another military coup in 2006, in practice the government consists of a nonelected interim government, led by a prime minister who is also the commander of the military. The president is the head of state and is advised by an interim cabinet. None of the country's political parties are active; historically, these have included the United Fijian Party, Fiji Labour Party, United Peoples' Party, National Federation Party, and National Alliance Party.

Local government
      Local government reflects the pluralism of Fiji's social structure. There are elected multiethnic councils in the larger towns, a separate Fijian administration incorporating a hierarchy of chiefs and councils for the control of rural Fijians, and direct administration elsewhere.

      Before the overthrow of the government in 1987, Fijian military forces had a largely ceremonial role, though they bore much of the burden of rebuilding and organizing after natural disasters and of civilian development projects. Military forces continued to perform these services after the coups, with the added role of agricultural distribution, together with their major preoccupation with the enforcement of internal security policies.

Education and health
      While the government provides some primary and secondary education, most schools are controlled through local committees run by and for a single ethnic or religious community. Entry to secondary schools is by competitive examination. Students pay fees but not the full cost of their education, which is subsidized by the government. The University of the South Pacific, near Suva, is a regional institution; Fiji and other Pacific Islands governments fund its budget, and foreign aid meets the costs of buildings and capital development. There are campuses in other countries of the region. To extend the reach of the university farther, lessons are broadcast to distant regional centres by a satellite network. Fiji also provides for its own technical, agricultural, and medical education and teacher training. There are private medical practitioners in all large towns, a national network of clinics and small hospitals, and major hospitals in Suva, Lautoka, and Labasa.

Cultural life

Daily life and social customs
      Fiji's mixed ethnicity contributes to a rich cultural heritage. Many features of traditional Fijian life survive; they are most evident in the elaborate investiture, marriage, and other ceremonies for high-ranking chiefs. These ceremonies provide a focus for the practicing of traditional crafts, such as the manufacture of masi, or tapa (bark painting) cloth, made from the bark of the paper mulberry; mat weaving; wood carving; and canoe making. Drinking of yanggona ( kava, made from the root of Piper methysticum) takes place not only as a part of important ceremonies but also as a part of the everyday life of Fijians and Indians alike.

      The Indians of Fiji continue to maintain their own culture. Traditional marriage ceremonies are practiced, as are customs such as fire walking and ritual self-torture during the annual Guru Purnima festival, at the time of the full moon in July or early August. Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, is celebrated every October as a public holiday.

The arts and cultural institutions
      Displays of “traditional” Fijian culture, music, and dancing make an important contribution to tourism; model villages and handicraft markets are popular with tourists. A traditional song-and-dance performance, the meke, is rooted in storytelling traditions. In its strictest form, the meke involves chanting by shamans, whose bodies take on spirits of the netherworld, accompanied by dancing, rhythmic clapping, and the beating of slit drums. The meke is one of the traditional performances at the Arts Village, a model village and tourist centre near Deuba. Cinemas showing imported Indian films are popular. The Fiji Museum, located in the Thurston Botanical Gardens in Suva, contains a fine collection of war canoes and other artifacts.

Sports and recreation
      In general, sports in Fiji can be divided into pursuits traditionally enjoyed by the locals and activities offered chiefly to visitors. In the latter category are scuba diving and snorkeling, surfing, windsurfing, and rafting. Among the authentic Fijian sports activities are women's canoe races on Rotuma Island, wrestling, and disk pitching, a Polynesian-Melanesian form of shuffleboard. The bilibili, a wooden raft, is traditionally used to traverse low-grade white-water rivers. There is also a long tradition of outrigger canoeing in Fiji, and it continues to play an important role in the country's culture.

      Rugby is very popular among native Fijians, and the islands supply players to the top leagues in the world. The national team has performed well in international competition. Other popular sports include football (soccer), lawn bowls, cricket, and basketball. The Fiji Bula Marathon is held each year in May or June. The Fiji National Olympic Committee was formed in 1949, and Fiji has participated in the Summer Olympic Games since 1956.

Media and publishing
      Fiji has several daily newspapers, and there are also weekly and monthly publications. There are a multilingual public radio broadcasting system and several private multilingual radio stations. A commercial television station provides free services and several pay channels.

      When Fiji's (Fiji) first settlers arrived from the islands of Melanesia at least 3,500 years ago, they carried with them a wide range of food plants, the pig, and a style of pottery known as Lapita ware. This pottery is generally associated with peoples who had well-developed skills in navigation and canoe building and were horticulturists. From Fiji the Lapita culture was carried to Tonga and Samoa, where the first distinctively Polynesian cultures (Polynesian culture) evolved. Archaeological evidence suggests that two other pottery styles were subsequently introduced into Fiji, though it is not clear whether these represent major migrations or simply cultural innovations brought by small groups of migrants. In most areas of Fiji, the settlers lived in small communities near ridge forts and practiced a slash-and-burn type of agriculture. In the fertile delta regions of southeast Viti Levu, however, there were large concentrations of population. These settlements, which were based on intensive taro cultivation using complex irrigation systems, were protected by massive ring-ditch fortifications.

      Traditional Fijian society was hierarchical. Leaders were chosen according to rank, which was based on descent as well as personal achievement. Organized through residence and kinship (in the latter case through mataqali, or clans (tribe), and residential subclans), Fijians participated in a flexible network of alliances that sometimes brought communities together and at other times caused them to oppose one another. By alliance or conquest, communities might form confederations led by paramount chiefs; warfare was common.

      The first Europeans to sight the Fiji islands were Dutch explorer Abel Janzsoon Tasman (Tasman, Abel Janszoon), who passed the northeast fringe of the group in 1643, and Capt. James Cook (Cook, James), who passed the southeastern islands in 1774. Capt. William Bligh (Bligh, William) traveled through the group in his open longboat after the mutiny on the HMS Bounty in 1789 and returned to explore it in 1792.

      Commercial interest in the islands began with the discovery of sandalwood at the beginning of the 19th century, leading to a rush to Bua (Mbua) Bay, at the southwestern end of Vanua Levu (Vanua Levu Island). A few beachcombers, useful as armourers and interpreters, were adopted by influential chiefs from this time. Within little more than a decade the accessible, commercial stands of sandalwood were depleted, but by the 1820s traders were again visiting the islands to trade for edible varieties of sea cucumber, the marine invertebrate also known as bêche-de-mer or trepang. Whereas most of the sandalwood had been cut by gangs of foreigners, the bêche-de-mer harvest involved large numbers of Fijians in gathering, cleaning, and drying and in the provision of food and firewood.

      These opportunities for new wealth and power, symbolized by the acquisition of muskets, intensified political rivalries and hastened the rise of the kingdom of Bau, a tiny island off the east coast of Viti Levu, ruled first by Naulivou and then by his nephew Cakobau. By the 1850s Bau dominated western Fiji. Cakobau's main rival was the Tongan chief Maʿafu, who led an army of Christian Tongans and their allies from eastern Fiji. After a short-lived alliance with Maʿafu, Cakobau became a Christian in 1854, thus bringing most Fijians under the influence of Methodist missionaries. Roman Catholic and Anglican missionaries arrived later but did not enjoy the same success.

      By the 1860s Fiji was attracting European settlers intent on establishing plantations to capitalize on a boom in cotton prices caused by the American Civil War. Disputes ensued over land and political power within and between European and Fijian communities, and problems arose with labourers introduced from other Pacific islands. These factors contributed to violent confrontations, exacerbated the implicit instability of Fijian society, and ensured that no Fijian chief could impose his rule on the whole group. European attempts at government were doomed by the greed and factionalism of their members and by the interference of European governments and consuls. Imperial intervention thus became inevitable.

      On Oct. 10, 1874, after negotiations had led to an offer of unconditional cession, Fiji became a British (British Empire) crown colony. The policies of the first governor, Sir Arthur Gordon, were decisive in shaping the history of Fiji. Gordon saw himself as the protector of the Fijian people and thus initiated policies that limited their involvement in commercial and political developments. Sales of Fijian land were banned; the Fijians were taxed in agricultural produce, not cash; and they were governed through a system of indirect rule based on the traditional political structure.

      In order to maintain these policies yet encourage the economic development of the new colony, Gordon promoted the introduction of indentured Indian labourers and investment by an Australian concern, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, to establish sugar plantations and processing mills. Indian migrants were encouraged to become permanent settlers at the conclusion of their contracts, even though little land was available for sale and the migrants' political rights were circumscribed. After the termination of the indenture system in 1920, Indian agitation over political and economic grievances caused strikes and continual discontent and challenged the commercial and political domination of the small European community in the islands.

      During World War II Fiji was occupied by Allied forces, and a battalion of Fijians saw service as scouts in the campaign for the Solomon Islands. Indians, whose history as indentured workers in Fiji had provided them with grievances regarding their unequal treatment in society, refused to serve on political grounds, including the fact that army volunteers from Fiji were offered lesser wages and conditions than were Europeans; consequently, the army, which was retained after the war, remained exclusively Fijian except for a handful of European officers. Indians also refused to cut cane at the low prices offered. These actions led to the taint of disloyalty being applied to Indians by the other ethnic groups. After the war, the colonial authorities restructured the Fijian administration, reinforcing chiefly leadership and thus consolidating the conservatism of Fijian society.

      Constitutional development toward independence, which began in the 1960s, was more a response to international and British pressures than to any demand from within Fiji. The 1966 constitution represented a compromise between the principles of parliamentary democracy and the ethnic divisions within the country. The franchise, previously exercised by Europeans and some Indians, was extended to adults of all ethnic backgrounds, including Fijians, who until then had been represented by their chiefs. Fijian land rights, guaranteed by the Deed of Cession in 1874, were given constitutional protection, while Fijian chiefs were given an effective veto in all important matters affecting the status of Fijians and in changes to the constitution itself. Although Indian leaders had since the 1930s argued for an electoral system using a common roll of voters, they now faced political reality and accepted the new system. Voters were classified according to ethnicity: Fijian, Indian, or General, which included citizens of any non-Fijian, non-Indian ethnicity. Legislative representatives were elected from Indian and Fijian rolls (called communal rolls) and from cross-voting rolls, which presented candidates as members of their ethnic constituencies who were then elected by voters of all ethnicities.

      The effect of the constitution was to give power to Fijian politicians so long as they remained in partnership with the General voters and, critically, so long as the Fijian vote remained unified. Despite “race riots” during by-elections in 1968, independence was achieved in a spirit of cooperation on Oct. 10, 1970, the 96th anniversary of cession.

      From that time until April 1987, Fiji was governed by the Alliance Party, which was pledged to policies of ‘‘multiracialism. " Its electoral supremacy was challenged only briefly, in 1977, when Fijian votes were attracted by Fijian nationalist candidates campaigning under a slogan of “Fiji for the Fijians”; only factionalism prevented the formation of an Indian-led government.

      In 1987, however, the Indian-dominated National Federation Party joined in coalition with the new Labour Party (led by a Fijian, Timoci Bavadra), which had strong support from Fijian and Indian trade unionists. The coalition was successful in elections held in April. The new government, which had a majority of Indian members in the legislature, was greeted with widespread Fijian protest. After only a few weeks the new government's leaders were arrested and deposed in a coup d'état led by Lieut. Col. Sitiveni Rabuka, who demanded greater protection for Fijian rights and an entrenched Fijian dominance of any future government. The governor-general declared a state of emergency and assumed control of the government. He then negotiated a compromise with political leaders that would have maintained civilian rule pending a constitutional revision and new elections. Dissatisfied with the progress of negotiations, however, Rabuka led a second coup in September and reimposed military rule. Toward the end of 1987 he declared Fiji a republic and revoked the 1970 constitution. Fiji was expelled from the Commonwealth. Rabuka appointed a new civilian government. A new constitution, designed to concentrate power in the hands of Fijians, was promulgated on July 25, 1990.

      Under the 1990 constitution, Rabuka was elected to parliament and went on to become prime minister in 1992. Two years later a Constitutional Review Commission was established that was charged with recommending changes to lessen the ethnic bias built into the constitution. Work on the constitutional revision was the political focus throughout the mid-1990s, and a number of Fijian nationalist groups organized to oppose Rabuka and the work of the commission, which published its recommendations in September 1996. In 1997 Fiji was readmitted to the Commonwealth over the objection of Fijian nationalists and many Indians. The proposed constitutional changes were approved that year and took effect in 1998.

      In May 1999 Mahendra Chaudhry became Fiji's first prime minister of Indian ancestry. Fijian nationalists strongly opposed Chaudhry's premiership, and during his first months in office there were a number of arson and bomb attacks in Suva linked to extremists. However, Chaudhry easily survived a no-confidence motion by nationalist legislators in August 1999. On May 19, 2000, Chaudhry and his government were taken hostage and deposed by a group led by businessman George Speight, who claimed to be acting for indigenous Fijians. Speight was backed in the coup by rebel members of the army's counterrevolutionary warfare unit. The coup was accompanied by widespread looting and destruction of Indian-owned businesses in Suva. The president, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara (who had served as prime minister for most of the postindependence period), promptly declared a state of emergency and took over governing powers of the country. However, after continuous deadlock in negotiations with the coup leaders, the army declared martial law and took over the reins of power.

      In July 2000 a Fijian-dominated interim civilian administration was appointed by the military commander to lead the country back to democracy. Just over a week later the Bose Levu Vakaturaga (Great Council of Chiefs) appointed Ratu Josefa Iloilo (formerly the vice president) as interim president, and the rebels released the hostages after 56 days of captivity in the parliamentary complex. In November, Fiji's High Court declared the military-installed government illegitimate, decreeing that the parliament ousted in May remained the country's governing authority. Legal appeals of the ruling lasted into 2001, by which time the Bose Levu Vakaturaga reconfirmed Iloilo as president and called for a general election in August and September. Chaudhry failed to retain his post, and the interim premier, Laisenia Qarase of the nationalist Fiji United Party, was confirmed as prime minister in September 2001.

      Tensions between the military and the elected government continued. In 2002 plans were introduced for the privatization of the sugar industry, which was in danger of collapse after the withdrawal of subsidies from the European Union. Qarase's party narrowly won the May 2006 elections, and he began his second term. In December, however, military leader Voreque Bainimarama seized power, dismissing Qarase and establishing himself briefly as the country's sole leader. In January 2007 he restored executive powers to President Iloilo, who then named Bainimarama interim prime minister. Bainimarama then proceeded to appoint an interim cabinet. He promised to schedule elections within the next several years but committed to no firm timetable.

Barrie K. Macdonald Sophie Foster

Additional Reading
An assessment of broad social, political, and economic issues facing Fiji can be found in A. Haroon Akram-Lodhi (ed.), Confronting Fiji Futures (2000). Norman Douglas and Ngaire Douglas (eds.), Pacific Islands Yearbook, 17th ed. (1994), provides a good overview of the region. A general guidebook is David Stanley, Fiji Handbook, 5th ed. (1999). Geography and demography are treated in R. Gerard Ward, Land Use and Population in Fiji (1965). Socioeconomic aspects are studied in Cyril S. Belshaw, Under the Ivi Tree: Society and Economic Growth in Rural Fiji (1964); H.C. Brookfield, F. Ellis, and R.G. Ward, Land, Cane, and Coconuts (1985); and R.F. Watters, Koro: Economic Development and Social Change in Fiji (1969). Traditional Fijian society and 20th-century change are discussed in R.R. Nayacakalou, Leadership in Fiji (1975); John Nation, Customs of Respect: The Traditional Basis of Fijian Communal Politics (1978); and G.K. Roth, Fijian Way of Life, 2nd ed. (1973).R.A. Derrick, History of Fiji (1946), is a pioneering study and an excellent introduction. Deryck Scarr, Fiji, a Short History (1984), gives a general account. Peter France, The Charter of the Land: Custom and Colonization in Fiji (1969), deals with the foundations of colonial policy. Bruce Knapman, Fiji's Economic History, 1874–1939: Studies of Capitalist Colonial Development (1987), examines the colonial economy. K.L. Gillion, Fiji's Indian Migrants: A History to the End of Indenture in 1920 (1962), and The Fiji Indians: Challenge to European Dominance, 1920–1946 (1977), discuss the history of Indians in Fiji. Adrian C. Mayer, Peasants in the Pacific: A Study of Fiji Indian Rural Society, 2nd ed. (1973), is a sociological study. The political situation is outlined in Brij V. Lal (ed.), Politics in Fiji: Studies in Contemporary History (1986); and the 1987 coup is discussed in Brij Lal, Power and Prejudice: The Making of the Fiji Crisis (1988).Sophie Foster

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Universalium. 2010.

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