OFFICIAL NAME: Sovereign Democratic Republic of Fiji
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Multiparty Republic
AREA: 18,376 Sq Km (7,095 Sq Mi)

Direct Link to Political MapDirect Link to Physical MapLOCATION & 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 Chinese.

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 births (1989).

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 population.

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 100 Cents.

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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