OFFICIAL NAME: Sovereign Democratic Republic of Fiji
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Multiparty Republic
AREA: 18,376 Sq Km (7,095 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION 861,700
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Fiji is an island group located
in the South Pacific Ocean approximately 2,730 km (1,700
miles) northeast of Sydney, Australia and 1,770 km (1,110
miles) north of Auckland, New Zealand. The country consists
of 844 islands and islets, of which 105 are inhabited with
90% of the population living on the two main islands of
Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. Most of the islands are of volcanic
origin and are generally mountainous and rugged. Flat land
is found where rivers have formed deltas and there are fertile
plains along the coasts. Dense tropical forests cover the
southeastern windward sides of the islands while coral reefs
surround most of the islands. The principal rivers on Viti
Levu are the Rewa, Sigatoka and Ba. Major Cities (pop. est.);
Suva 69,700, Lautoka 28,700, Lami 8,600, Nadi 7,700, Ba
6,500 (1986). Land Use; forested 65%, pastures 10%, agricultural-cultivated
14%, other 11% (1993)
CLIMATE: Fiji has a tropical climate with a wet and dry season.
The wet season is between November and April, which is also when hurricanes
and cyclones are most likely to occur while the dry season is between May
and October. The prevailing trade winds blow from the east for most of
the year and average annual precipitation varies from 1,780 mm (70 inches)
to 2,030 mm (80 inches). Average temperature ranges in Suva are from 20
to 26 degrees Celsius (68 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit) in August to 23 to
30 degrees Celsius (73 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit) in February.
PEOPLE: The indigenous Fijians who are a mixture of Melanesian
and Polynesian account for 49% of the population. The principal ethnic
aliens are the Indians who constitute 46% of the population. Other ethnic
minorities include the Europeans who account for 1% while another 1% are
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 40 persons per sq km (105
persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 38.7% urban, 61.3% rural (1986).
Sex Distribution; 50.7% male, 49.3% female (1989). Life Expectancy at Birth;
68.3 years male, 72.8 years female (1988). Age Breakdown; 38% under 15,
29% 15 to 29, 18% 30 to 44, 10% 45 to 59, 4% 60 to 74, 1% 75 and over (1989).
Birth Rate; 26.8 per 1,000 (1988). Death Rate; 5.0 per 1,000 (1988). Increase
Rate; 21.8 per 1,000 (1988). Infant Mortality Rate; 27.0 per 1,000 live
RELIGIONS: Virtually all indigenous Fijians are Christians and
Christianity accounts for around 53% of the population, of which 85% are
Methodist and 12% are Roman Catholic. Around 38% of the population are
Hindus and 8% are Muslims, both of which are faiths of the Fijian Indian
LANGUAGES: The official language is English which is spoken by
most of the population, although Bau a dialect of the indigenous Fijians
is also widely spoken and Hindustani is also spoken by the Indians.
EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: no formal schooling
28.3%, primary 19.1%, incomplete secondary 44.1%, secondary 4.1%, higher
4.4% (1986). Literacy; literate population aged 15 or over 87.0% (1986)
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: Fiji remained a British Colony
until at its own request, it gained independence as a constitutional monarchy
within the Commonwealth on Oct. 10, 1970. Since independence the government
has encouraged tourism and the development of the manufacturing and forestry
industries. Although the Indians controlled much of Fijian economy, traditionally
the Fijians have held more power in the government. In April 1987 an Indian
backed coalition led by Dr Timothy Bavadra won the majority in Parliament
which resulted in further Fijian resentment with this increase in Indian
political power. In May 1987 military officers led by Col. Sitiveni Rabuka
overthrew Bavadra's government and in September agreed to install a bipartisan
caretaker government that included coalition representatives. However,
on Sept. 5, Rabuka led a second coup, abolishing the constitution, naming
himself head of state and government, and declaring the right of the Fijians
to govern the nation. On Oct. 6, 1987 Rabuka declared Fiji a republic.
In Dec. 1987 Rabuka appointed a president and returned Fiji to civilian
rule under an interim government. In July 1990 a new constitution was drawn
up which guaranteed the native Fijians political power. This constitution
was condemned as racist, undemocratic and authoritarian. In Apr. 1991 the
interim government re-affirmed that it would not amend the constitution
and in June 1991 the government decreed tough anti-union measures for Fiji's
key industries. Rabuka subsequently resigned as Army commander and joined
the Cabinet. In May 1992 Maj. Gen. Rabuka won the general elections and
became Prime Minister as leader of the Fijian Political Party which continued
to reaffirm the interests of indigenous Fijians. On the same month Prime
Minister Mara who had led the country since independence, except for a
brief period in 1977-87, retired from politics. In Dec. 1992 Prime Minister
Rabuka called for a government of national unity with the objective of
improving the growing political and ethnic divisions, although little progress
was made. In June 1993 members of the Indian-dominated Fijian Labor Party
walked out of the parliament over the failure of Rabuka to fulfill election
promises. The government later established of a constitutional review committee
that included opposition party members as a conciliatory move. In Dec.
1993 the government's budget was defeated when some of its own members
crossed the parliament floor while on Dec. 15, 1993 Pres. Ratu Sir Penaia
Ganilau died in Washington D.C.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Dollar (FD) divided into
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $1,626,000,000 (1993). Public
Debt; USD $283,400,000 (1993). Imports; FD $1,209,852,000 (1994). Exports;
FD $657,041,000 (1994). Tourism Receipts; USD $236,000,000 (1993). Balance
of Trade; FD -$409,360,000 (1994). Economically Active Population; 241,160
or 33.7% of total population (1986). Unemployed; 6.4% (1990).
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are the UK,
the USA, Australia, other EU countries, New Zealand and Singapore.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Bananas, Cassava, Cocoa, Coconuts, Copper,
Fish, Ginger, Gold, Livestock, Rice, Sugar, Sweet Potatoes, Timber, Tobacco.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Cement, Fishing, Food Processing,
Forestry, Mining, Paint, Sugar Refining, Tourism.
MAIN EXPORTS: Canned Fish, Clothing, Coconut Oil, Copra, Ginger,
Gold, Molasses, Sugar.
TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 595 km (370 mi) (1990), passenger-km
N/A., cargo ton-km N/A. Roads; length 4,821 km (2,996 mi) (1990). Vehicles;
cars 40,253 (1990), trucks and buses 27,589 (1990). Merchant Marine; vessels
63 (1990), deadweight tonnage 53,233 (1990). Air Transport; passenger-km
882,000,000 (548,049,000 passenger-mi) (1990), cargo ton-km 25,339,000
(17,355,000 short ton-mi) (1990).
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 1 with a total circulation
of 27,000 (1992). Radio; receivers 450,000 (1994). Television; receivers
12,000 (1992). Telephones; units 53,997 (1993).
MILITARY: 3,900 (1993) total active duty personnel with 92.3%
army, 7.7% navy and 0.0% air force while military expenditure accounts
for 1.6% (1993) of the Gross National Product (GNP).
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