Fiji Fiji Flag

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). The coups and a 1990 constitution that cemented native Melanesian control of Fiji, led to heavy Indian emigration; the population loss resulted in economic difficulties, but ensured that Melanesians became the majority. A new constitution enacted in 1997 was more equitable. Free and peaceful elections in 1999 resulted in a government led by an Indo-Fijian, but a civilian-led coup in May 2000 ushered in a prolonged period of political turmoil. Parliamentary elections held in August 2001 provided Fiji with a democratically elected government led by Prime Minister Laisenia QARASE. Re-elected in May 2006, QARASE was ousted in a December 2006 military coup led by Commodore Voreqe BAINIMARAMA, who initially appointed himself acting president. In January 2007, BAINIMARAMA was appointed interim prime minister.



Great dive locations in Fiji :

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Understand

Fiji is the product of volcanic mountains and warm tropical waters. Its majestic and ever-varied coral reefs today draw tourists from around the world, but were the nightmare of European mariners until well into the 19th century. As a result Fijians have retained their land and often much of the noncommercial, sharing attitude of people who live in vast extended families with direct access to natural resources. When it came, European involvement and cession to Britain was marked by the conversion to Christianity, the cessation of brutal tribal warfare and cannibalism, and the immigration of a large number of indentured Indian laborers, who now represent nearly half of the population. Today, Fiji is a land of tropical rainforests, coconut plantations, fine beaches, fire-cleared hills. For the casual tourist it is blessedly free of evils such as malaria, landmines, or terrorism that attend many similarly lovely places in the world.

Internal political events in the recent past resulted in a reduction in tourism. The Fiji tourism industry has responded by lowering prices and increasing promotion of the main resort areas that are far removed from the politics in and around the capital, Suva.

Climate
Tropical marine; only slight seasonal temperature variation. Tropical cyclonic storms (The South Pacific version of Hurricanes) can occur from November to January.

Terrain
Mostly mountains of volcanic origin

Most of the interior of the main islands is trackless wilderness, though there are some roads and trails, and an amazing number of remote villages. Buses and open or canvas topped "carriers" traverse the mountanins of Vanua Levu several times a day and the interior mountains of Viti Levu many times weekly (The Tacirua Transport "hydromaster" bus which leaves from Nausori in the morning and runs past the hydroelectric resevoir and mount Tomanivi to arrive the same day in Vatoukola and Tavua is the best and the scenery is truly specatacular in good weather!)

History
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). The coups and a 1990 constitution that cemented native Melanesian control of Fiji, led to heavy Indian emigration; the population loss resulted in economic difficulties, but ensured that Melanesians became the majority. A new constitution enacted in 1997 was more equitable. Free and peaceful elections in 1999 resulted in a government led by an Indo-Fijian, but a civilian-led coup in May 2000 ushered in a prolonged period of political turmoil. Parliamentary elections held in August 2001 provided Fiji with a democratically elected government led by Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.

A further military coup in 2006, led by Commodore Josaia Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama, has again thrown the political situation into turmoil.

Eat

Locals eat in the cafes and small restaurants that are found in every town. The food is wholesome, cheap, and highly variable in quality. What you order from the menu is...




Fiji (sometimes called the Fiji Islands), is a Melanesian country in the South Pacific Ocean. It lies about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand and consists of an archipelago that includes 332 islands, a handful of which make up most of the land area, and approximately 110 of which are inhabited.

Fiji straddles the 180 degree longitude line (which crosses land on a remote tip of Vanua Levu and again near the center of Taveuni), so the international date line jogs east, placing Fiji all in one time zone and, "ahead" of most of the rest of the world.
Regions


  • Viti Levu - main and largest island.
  • Vanua Levu - second largest and more northern island.
  • Taveuni - third largest island, near Vanua Levu, with the 180th meridian, and exclusive habitat of the Tagimocia Flower.
  • Kadavu - island south of Viti Levu.
  • Yasawa Islands - north-western group popular for island-hopping holidays
  • Nananu-i-Ra Island - off the northern coast of Viti Levu.
  • Mamanuca Islands - tiny islands west of Viti Levu.
  • Lomaiviti Islands - central group of islands between Viti Levu and Lau Group.
  • Lau Islands - group of many small islands in eastern Fiji.


  • Cities
  • Suva - the capital

  • Labasa
  • Lautoka
  • Levuka
  • Nabouwalu
  • Nadi (pronounced 'Nandi')
  • Nausori
  • Rakiraki
  • Savusavu
  • Sigatoka


  • Understand

    Fiji is the product of volcanic mountains and warm tropical waters. Its majestic and ever-varied coral reefs today draw tourists from around the world, but were the nightmare of European mariners until well into the 19th century. As a result Fijians have retained their land and often much of the noncommercial, sharing attitude of people who live in vast extended families with direct access to natural resources. When it came, European involvement and cession to Britain was marked by the conversion to Christianity, the cessation of brutal tribal warfare and cannibalism, and the immigration of a large number of indentured Indian laborers, who now represent nearly half of the population. Today, Fiji is a land of tropical rainforests, coconut plantations, fine beaches, fire-cleared hills. For the casual tourist it is blessedly free of evils such as malaria, landmines, or terrorism that attend many similarly lovely places in the world.

    Internal political events in the recent past resulted in a reduction in tourism. The Fiji tourism industry has responded by lowering prices and increasing promotion of the main resort areas that are far removed from the politics in and around the capital, Suva.

    Climate
    Tropical marine; only slight seasonal temperature variation. Tropical cyclonic storms (The South Pacific version of Hurricanes) can occur from November to January.

    Terrain
    Mostly mountains of volcanic origin

    Most of the interior of the main islands is trackless wilderness, though there are some roads and trails, and an amazing number of remote villages. Buses and open or canvas topped "carriers" traverse the mountanins of Vanua Levu several times a day and the interior mountains of Viti Levu many times weekly (The Tacirua Transport "hydromaster" bus which leaves from Nausori in the morning and runs past the hydroelectric resevoir and mount Tomanivi to arrive the same day in Vatoukola and Tavua is the best and the scenery is truly specatacular in good weather!)

    History
    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). The coups and a 1990 constitution that cemented native Melanesian control of Fiji, led to heavy Indian emigration; the population loss resulted in economic difficulties, but ensured that Melanesians became the majority. A new constitution enacted in 1997 was more equitable. Free and peaceful elections in 1999 resulted in a government led by an Indo-Fijian, but a civilian-led coup in May 2000 ushered in a prolonged period of political turmoil. Parliamentary elections held in August 2001 provided Fiji with a democratically elected government led by Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.

    A further military coup in 2006, led by Commodore Josaia Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama, has again thrown the political situation into turmoil.

    Get in


    By plane
    Nadi International Airport is Fiji's main international airport. Suva airport also has some international flights. Air New Zealand, and Air Pacific (Fiji owned) fly to Fiji directly from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in the USA, and from Incheon Internation Airport in South Korea, as well as many other locations.

    Exercise caution when making bookings with the travel agents at the airport. Fiji tourism is laden with 15-20% 'deposits' (commissions) that encourage agents to book with the resorts that provide the best commission, rather than the best holiday experience.

    By boat

    You can enter Fiji by boat from Australia through the Astrala shore connection.

    Get around

    Fiji has a variety of public transport options, including buses, "share taxis", and private taxis. Rates are very cheap: F$1-2 from Colo-i-Suva to Suva bus station by bus, F$17 from Nadi bus station to Suva by share-taxi, or approximately F$80 from Suva airport to Sigatoka by private taxi. On the main road circling Viti Levu buses run every half hour and taxis are a substantial proportion of traffic, while on western Taveuni buses make only a few runs per day and very little traffic is present.

    The current going rate from resorts on Nadi beach to Nadi downtown is $6 per passenger, and $10 to the airport -- you should be able negotiate this price reasonably easily.

    While there is rarely much traffic present, most vehicles run on diesel and pollution on major roadways can be severe. A national speed limit of 80 km/h is usually observed; village speed limits are all but entirely ignored, but drivers slow down for several speed humps distributed within each village. Seat belts are advised on taxis but are rarely evident and apparently never used.

    Road travel tends to be more dangerous than many people are used to, and many embassies advise their citizens to avoid pretty much any form of road travel. Buses are the best, unless you are truly comfortable and capable of renting and driving a car on your own - most people are not even if they think they are. Avoid travel at night, especially outside of urban areas.

    South Sea Cruises operates daily inter-island ferry transfers throughout Fiji's Mamanuca Island resorts. Awesome Adventures Fiji provides daily ferry transfers out to the remote Yasawa Islands. Inter-island ferries are reasonably priced and the larger ones (especially those large enough to accommodate cars and trucks) have a good safety record, though they may be overcrowded at the beginning and end of school holiday periods. Do not attempt to take a car to another island unless you own it or have made clear special arrangements - most rental companies forbid it and they do prosecute tourists who violate this clause in the contract.

    Bicycles are becoming more popular in Fiji in recent years for locals and tourists alike. In many ways, Fiji is an ideal place for a rugged bike. However, the motor vehicle traffic is intimidating and downright dangerous on well-travelled roads, and there is a lack of accommodation along secondary roads. So bicycle transport in Fiji unadviseable except for those who are very ambitious, very well-informed, or very flexible, or better yet, a bit of all three.

    Talk

    English is an official language taught in grade school, and is spoken by most in Nadi and Suva and any other major tourist area. On a few of the less touristy islands, English may be spoken with some difficulty. Fijian or Hindustani (Hindi/Urdu) is spoken by most adults and children, and learning even a few key phrases will help you gain the respect of the locals.

    Buy

    Inflation in Fiji is relatively high - it has increased an estimated 12%/year recently. Expect to pay prices similar to those of Australia in tourist regions.

    Eat

    Locals eat in the cafes and small restaurants that are found in every town. The food is wholesome, cheap, and highly variable in quality. What you order from the menu is often better than what comes out of the glass display case, except for places that sell a lot of food quickly and keep putting it out fresh. Many curries also taste better after sitting around for a few hours. Fish and Chips are usually a safe bet, and are widely available. Most of these local joints serve Chinese food of some sort along with Indian and sometimes Fiji-style fish , lamb, or pork dishes. Near the airport, a greater variety of food is found, including Japanese and Korean.

    Local delicacies to try include fresh tropical fruits (they can be found at the farmer's market in any town when in season), paulsami (baked taro leaves marinated in lemon juice and coconut milk often with some meat or fish filling and a bit of onion or garlic), kokoda (fish or other seafood marinated in lemon and coconut milk), and anything cooked in a lovo or pit oven. Vutu is a local variety of nut mainly grown on the island of Beqa, but also available in Suva and other towns around January and February.

    Drink


    A very popular drink in Fiji is yaqona ("yang-go-na"), also known as "kava" and sometimes referred to as "grog" by locals. Kava is a peppery, earthy tasting drink made from the root of the pepper plant (piper methysticum). Its effects include a numbed tongue and lips (usually lasting only about 5-10 minutes) and relaxed muscles. Kava is mildly intoxicating, especially when consumed in large quantities or on a regular basis and one should avoid taxi and other drivers who have recently partaken.

    Kava drinking in Fiji became popular during the fall of cannibalism, and originated as a way to resolve conflict and facilitate peaceful negotiations between villages.

    Sleep

    Most Fiji travel agents will take a 'deposit' along with your booking, which is a commission usually between 15-20%. Since this is an up-front payment, it is often beneficial to only book one night initially, and then you may be able to negotiate a lesser rate for subsequent nights (if space is available).

    Many smaller and simpler accommodations have "local rates" and can give discounts that are simply huge if you can book a room in person (or have a local do it for you) and give a legitimate local address and phone number. If one "must" stay in the Suva area, the Raffles Tradewinds is nice and quiet and about a dollar by frequently running buses from central down town. Sometimes upon arrival at the airport in Nadi, you can stop at the Raffles Gateway across from the airport entrance and book a room at the Tradewinds at a good local rate if business is slow.

    Turtle Island is an island resort in the Yasawa islands that is gaining notoriety for its celebrity honeymooners (most recently Britney Spears).

    Fijian Resort Shangri-La's is located at Yanuca island in Sigatoka.

    Suva has become a desirable destination for conventions, meetings and events. With so many exciting off-site activities so close to the hotel, options for a unique and rewarding event are endless.

    Namaka, Nadi is the perfect place for either the first or last stop of your Fijian holiday or for the adventurous traveller, a great base from which to explore Fiji. If you are looking for great Fiji diving spots,Nomads Skylodge Resort is also the perfect place to begin your diving adventures.

    Nadi is the hub of tourism for the Fiji Islands. You can get all the resources you need to explore your lodging options, hotels and resorts, activities and trips and tours. Nadi is a thriving community with many things to explore and experience. There is also a number of local activities and places to see when you are in Nadi as well.

    Lautoka is Fiji's second largest city. The real charm of this dry western side of the island is the mountain ranges inland from Nadi and Lautoka. Koroyanitu National Park offers hiker overnight adventure through the semi-rainforest,waterfalls and small villages. Tours to the Garden of the Sleeping Giant are also very popular for the different ornamental orchids together with forest walks through botanical wonders. While in Lautoka, you can stay at the Waterfront Hotel, just a twenty-five minute drive from Nadi Airport.

    Rakiraki is a colonial township that captivates visitors with its old world charm and serenity. The hotel is two minutes from town.It is the half way point between Nadi and Suva, and presents a different Fiji, one that many visitors never see.

    If you'd care to sample outer island life, Moanas Guest House on Vanua Balavu in the remote Lau Group is worth considering. Vanua Balavu only receives one Air Fiji flight a week from Suva. There's hiking, snorkeling, caving, and fishing to keep you entertained.

    Learn

  • University of the South Pacific , Suva
  • Fiji Institute of Technology


  • Stay safe

    Fiji is a relatively safe place. There is very little major crime at all. Most takes place in Suva and Nadi. Fijian culture encourages sharing and sometimes small things like shoes will be "borrowed". Often by speaking with the village chief it can be arranged to get things returned.

    Fiji operates a secret political blacklist of journalists and others in the media who may be considered politically undesirable visitors. Those whose employment involves reporting controversial political activities should take extra care to ensure that their visas are in order before visiting Fiji.

    Also, be aware that homosexual sex may still be a crime in Fiji. While Fiji claims to welcome gay travelers, there has been a recent case where a visitor to the country was initially jailed for 2 years for paying a local for homosexual sex. He was later freed on appeal.

    The recent military coup against the elected Government has heightened political tensions, and although relatively bloodless there is always the possibility for unrest and travellers may wish to reconsider staying in Suva in particular. "Exercise extreme caution" - the current state of the Australian Government's travel advice (see also the British Government's travel advice at the head of this page) - would seem sensible without causing undue alarm.

    Stay healthy

    Fiji is relatively free of disease compared to most of the tropics. Avoid mosquito-borne illnesses, such as dengue fever and even elephantitis by covering up thoroughly or using repellents while outdoors at dawn or dusk. Local water is generally safe, though filtering or boiling is adviseable when unsure. Urban tap water is treated and nearly always safe. When exceptions occasionally arise, there are public warnings or radio and print media warnings. Contaminated food is uncommon, though on occasion, mature reef fish can contain mild neurotoxins they accumulate in their bodies from freshwater algaes that wash into the ocean. The effects of such "fish-poisoning" are usually intense for only a day or two, but tingling lips and unusual sensitivities to hot and cold can linger for a long time.

    Drownings are common, and automobile and other motor vehicle accidents (often involving animals or pedestrians) are very common. Local emergency medical care is very good on the basics in urban areas. Expect long waits in government-run clinics and hospitals. Treatment for serious condidtions often requires an evacuation to New Zealand or Australia. Even the most basic medical care is usually not available outside of urban areas

    Respect

    Fiji, like many Pacific Island states, has a strong Christian moral society; having been colonised and converted to Christianity by missionaries during the 18th century. Do not be surprised if shops and other businesses are closed on Sunday. The Sabbath starts at 6pm the day before, and some businesses celebrate the Sabbath on a Saturday instead of a Sunday.

    Also, dress modestly and appropriately. While Fiji is a tropical country, beach-wear should be confined to the beach. Take your cues from the locals as to what they consider appropriate dress for the occasion. When visiting towns and villages, you should be sure to cover your shoulders and wear shorts or sulus (sarongs) that cover your knees (both genders). This is especially true for visiting a church, although locals will often lend you a sulu for a church visit.

    A Fijian considers his head sacred. Never touch a Fijian's head with your hand or any object for any reason.


    Fiji (Fijian: Matanitu ko Viti; Hindustani: फ़िजी فِجی), officially the Republic of the Fiji Islands, is an island nation in the South Pacific Ocean east of Vanuatu, west of Tonga and south of Tuvalu. The country occupies an archipelago of about 322 islands, of which 106 are permanently inhabited, and 522 islets. The two major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, account for 87% of the population. The name Fiji is the old Tongan word for the islands, which in turn is derived from the Fijian name Viti.

    History

    The first inhabitants of Fiji arrived from South East Asia long before contact with European explorers in the seventeenth century. Pottery excavated from Fijian towns showed that Fiji was settled before or around 1000 BC. This question of Pacific migration still lingers. The Dutch explorer Abel Tasman visited Fiji in 1643 while looking for the Great Southern Continent. It was not until the nineteenth century, however, that Europeans settled the islands permanently. The islands came under British control as a colony in 1874, and the British brought over Indian contract labourers. It was granted independence in 1970. Democratic rule was interrupted by two military coups in 1987 because the government was perceived as dominated by the Indo-Fijian (Indian) community. The second 1987 coup saw the British monarchy and the Governor General replaced by a non-executive President, and the country changed the long form of its name from Dominion of Fiji to Republic of Fiji (and to Republic of the Fiji Islands in 1997). The coups contributed to heavy Indian emigration; the population loss resulted in economic difficulties but ensured that Melanesians became the majority.

    In 1990, the new Constitution institutionalised the ethnic Fijian domination of the political system. The Group Against Racial Discrimination (GARD) was formed to oppose the unilaterally imposed constitution and restore the 1970 constitution. Sitiveni Rabuka, the Lieutenant Colonel who carried out the 1987 coup became Prime Minister in 1992, following elections held under the new constitution. Three years later, Rabuka established the Constitutional Review Commission, which in 1997 led to a new Constitution, which was supported by most leaders of the indigenous Fijian and Indo-Fijian communities. Fiji is re-admitted to the Commonwealth of Nations.

    The new millennium brought along another coup, instigated by George Speight, that effectively toppled the government of Mahendra Chaudhry, who became Prime Minister following the 1997 constitution. Commodore Frank Bainimarama assumed executive power after the resignation, possibly forced, of President Mara. Fiji was rocked by two mutinies at Suva's Queen Elizabeth Barracks, later in 2000 when rebel soldiers went on the rampage. The High Court ordered the reinstatement of the constitution, and in September 2001, a General election was held to restore democracy, which was won by interim Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase's Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua party.

    In 2005, amid much controversy, the Qarase government proposed a Reconciliation and Unity Commission, with power to recommend compensation for victims of the 2000 coup, and amnesty for its perpetrators. However, the military strongly opposed this bill, especially the army's commander, Frank Bainimarama. He agreed with detractors who said that it was a sham to grant amnesty to supporters of the present government who played roles in the coup. His attack on the legislation, which continued unremittingly throughout May and into June and July, further strained his already tense relationship with the government. In late November 2006 and early December 2006, Bainimarama was instrumental in the 2006 Fijian coup d'état. Bainimarama handed down a list of demands to Qarase after a bill was put forward to parliament, part of which would have offered pardons to participants in the 2000 coup attempt. He gave Qarase an ultimatum date of 4 December to accede to these demands or to resign from his post. Qarase adamantly refused to either concede or resign and on 5 December President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, was said to have signed a legal order dissolving Parliament after meeting with Bainimarama.

    For a country of its size, Fiji has large armed forces, and has been a major contributor to UN peacekeeping missions in various parts of the world.

    Politics

    Politics of Fiji normally take place in the framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister of Fiji is the head of government, the President the head of state, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Parliament of Fiji. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

    Since independence there have been four coups in Fiji, two in 1987, one in 2000 and one in late 2006. The military has been either ruling directly, or heavily influencing governments since 1987.

    2006 military takeover

    Citing corruption in the government, Commodore Josaia Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama, Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, staged a coup on December 5 2006 against the Prime Minister that he himself had installed after the 2000 coup. This coup followed two in 1987 and one in 2000. The Commodore took over the powers of the President and dissolved the parliament, paving the way for the military to continue the take over.

    The coup was the culmination of weeks of speculation following conflict between the elected Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, and Commodore Bainimarama. Bainamarama had repeatedly issued demands and deadlines to the Prime Minister. At particular issue was previously pending legislation to pardon those involved in the 2000 coup; however, substantial concessions made by the Prime Minister on this and other issues failed to resolve the crisis.

    Bainimarama named Jona Senilagakali caretaker Prime Minister. Senilagakai had not been asked beforehand whether he would accept the appointment and claimed that he would have refused had he been given the choice. The next week Bainimarama said he would ask the Great Council of Chiefs to restore executive powers to President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo.  On December 6, Bainimarama declared a state of emergency, and warned that he would not tolerate any violence or unrest.

    Following the coup, the Commonwealth of Nations held an emergency meeting in London, where they declared Fiji's membership had been suspended. On December 9, the military rulers advertised for positions in the Government, including cabinet posts, in a national newspaper. They stated people wishing to apply must be "of outstanding character", have no criminal record, and never have been bankrupt.

    Also on December 9 the IFNA withdrew the right of Fiji to host the 2007 World Netball Championships as a consequence of the Military takeover. The withdrawal is expected to have a significant impact in Fiji due to the popularity of sports such as Netball.

    On January 4 2007, the military announced that it was restoring executive power to President Iloilo , who made a broadcast endorsing the actions of the military.  The next day, Iloilo named Bainimarama as the interim Prime Minister, indicating that the Military was still effectively in control.

    Geography

    Fiji consists of 322 islands, of which 106 are inhabited, and 522 smaller islets. The two most important islands are Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. The islands are mountainous, with peaks up to 1,300 metres (4,250 ft), and covered with tropical forests. Viti Levu hosts the capital city of Suva, and is home to nearly three quarters of the population. Other important towns include Nadi (the location of the international airport), and Lautoka (the location of a large sugar mill and a sea-port). The main towns on Vanua Levu are Labasa and Savusavu. Other islands and island groups include Taveuni and Kadavu (the third and fourth largest islands respectively), the Mamanuca Group (just outside Nadi) and Yasawa Group, which are popular tourist destinations, the Lomaiviti Group, outside of Suva, and the remote Lau Group. Rotuma, some 500 kilometres (310 mi) north of the archipelago, has a special administrative status in Fiji.

    Economy


    Fiji, endowed with forest, mineral, and fish resources, is one of the more developed of the Pacific island economies, though still with a large subsistence sector. Fiji experienced a period of rapid growth in the 1960s and 1970s but stagnated in the early 1980s. The coups of 1987 caused further contraction. Economic liberalisation in the years following the coup created a boom in the garment industry and a steady growth rate despite growing uncertainty of land tenure in the sugar industry. The expiration of leases for sugar cane farmers (along with reduced farm and factory efficiency) has led to a decline in sugar production despite a subsidised price. Subsidies for sugar have been provided by the EU and Fiji has been the second largest beneficiary after Mauritius.

    Urbanization and expansion in the service sector have contributed to recent GDP growth. Sugar exports and a rapidly growing tourist industry — with 430,800 tourists in 2003 and increasing in the subsequent years — 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 on the economy, which shrank by 2.8% in 2000 and grew by only 1% in 2001. The tourism sector recovered quickly, however, with visitor arrivals reaching pre-coup levels again during 2002, which has since resulted in a modest economic recovery. This recovery continued into 2004 but grew by 1.7% in 2005 and is projected to grow by 2.0% in 2006. Although inflation is low, the policy indicator rate of the Reserve Bank of Fiji was raised by 1% to 3.25% in February 2006 due to fears of excessive consumption financed by debt. Lower interest rates have so far not produced greater investment for exports. However, there has been a housing boom from declining commercial mortgage rates.

    The tallest building in Fiji is the fourteen-storey Reserve Bank of Fiji Building in Suva, which opened in 1984. At seventeen stories, The Suva Central Commercial Centre opened in November 2005 was planned to outrank the Reserve Bank building, but last-minute design changes meant the Reserve Bank building remains the tallest.

    Demographics

    Ethnic groups
    The population of Fiji is mostly made up of native Fijians, a people of mixed Polynesian (partly Tongan) and Melanesian ancestry (54.3%), and Indo-Fijians (38.1%), descendants of Indian contract labourers brought to the islands by the British in the nineteenth century. The percentage of the population of Indian descent has declined significantly over the last two decades because of exclusionary policies against them and related emigration.

    About 1.2% are Rotuman — natives of Rotuma Island, whose culture has more in common with countries such as Tonga or Samoa than with the rest of Fiji. There are also small, but economically significant, groups of Europeans, Chinese and other minorities.

    Relationships between ethnic Fijians and Indo-Fijians have often been strained, and the tension between the two communities has dominated politics in the islands for the past generation. The level of tension varies between different regions of the country.

    Religion
    Religion is one of the primary differences between indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians, with the former overwhelmingly Christian (97.2% at the 1996 census), and the latter mostly Hindu (70.7%) and Muslim (17.9%).

    The largest Christian denomination is the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma. With 36.2% of the total population (including almost two-thirds of ethnic Fijians), its share of the population is higher in Fiji than in any other nation. Roman Catholics (8.9%), the Assemblies of God (4%), and Seventh-day Adventists (2.9%) are also significant. These and other denominations also have small numbers of Indo-Fijian members; Christians of all kinds comprise 6.1% of the Indo-Fijian population. Much major Roman Catholic missionary activity was conducted through the Vicariate Apostolic of Fiji.

    Hindus belong mostly to the Sanatan sect (74.3% of all Hindus) or else are unspecified (22%). The small Arya Samaj sect claims the membership of some 3.7% of all Hindus in Fiji. Muslims are mostly Sunni (59.7%) or unspecified (36.7%), with an Ahmadiya minority (3.6%) regarded as heretical by more orthodox Muslims. The Sikh religion comprises 0.9% of the Indo-Fijian population, or 0.4% of the national population in Fiji. Their ancestors came from the Punjab region of India. The Baha'i Faith has over 21 Local Spiritual Assemblies throughout Fiji and Baha'is live in more than 80 localities. The first Baha'i on the island was a New Zealander who arrived in 1924.

    Sport

    The national sport of Fiji is considered to be Rugby union (see Rugby union in Fiji), however rugby league is also widely played. The national team is quite successful, and has competed at four Rugby World Cups, the first being in 1987, which has also thus so far been their best result when they reached the quarter finals. Fiji also competes in the Pacific Tri-Nations and the Pacific Nations Cup. The sport is governed by the Fiji Rugby Union which is a member of the Pacific Islands Rugby Alliance, and contributes to the Pacific Islanders rugby union team. At the club level there are the Colonial Cup and Pacific Rugby Cup. The Fiji sevens team is the most successful rugby 7s team in the world and has won 2 world cup titles and last years IRB Series.
  • Vijay Singh, one of the best golfers in the world, is from Fiji. He was born in Lautoka.
  • Waisale Serevi, a world-renowned sevens rugby player, is from Fiji. Commentators refer to him as the Magician, or Maestro also the King of Sevens. No.1 sevens player in the world with William Ryder closely following his footsteps
  • Lote Tuqiri, dual code international for Australia in rugby league and rugby union, and former captain of the Fiji national rugby league team.
  • Petero Civoniceva, representative footballer for the Australia national rugby league team.
  • Sitiveni Sivivatu and Joe Rokocoko are Fijians who play for New Zealand's All Blacks.
  • Rupeni Caucau plays for a French rugby union club.


  • References




    Other sources
  • Hermann Mückler: Back to the Chessboard: The Coup and the Re-Emergence of Pre-colonial Rivalries in Fiji. In: Kolig/Mückler (eds.): Politics of Indigeneity in the South Pacific. Hamburg: LIT-Verlag, S. 143-158


  • External links


  • CIA Factbook
  • Official Website of the Government of Fiji
  • Official Website of the Parliament of Fiji
  • Bulafiji.com. Official Fiji Visitors Bureau website
  • The Fiji Times - Fiji News, Sport and Weather from Fiji's leading newspaper
  • Fiji Travel Information
  • Open Directory Project - Fiji directory category
  • Documents affecting Fiji at the Diplomacy Monitor
  • FijiTuwawa:The fiji online community
  • Seacology Fiji Projects Seacology


















  • Introduction:
    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). The coups and a 1990 constitution that cemented native Melanesian control of Fiji, led to heavy Indian emigration; the population loss resulted in economic difficulties, but ensured that Melanesians became the majority. A new constitution enacted in 1997 was more equitable. Free and peaceful elections in 1999 resulted in a government led by an Indo-Fijian, but a civilian-led coup in May 2000 ushered in a prolonged period of political turmoil. Parliamentary elections held in August 2001 provided Fiji with a democratically elected government led by Prime Minister Laisenia QARASE. Re-elected in May 2006, QARASE was ousted in a December 2006 military coup led by Commodore Voreqe BAINIMARAMA, who initially appointed himself acting president. In January 2007, BAINIMARAMA was appointed interim prime minister.

    Location: Oceania, island group in the South Pacific Ocean, about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand

    Population: 905,949 (July 2006 est.)

    Languages: English (official), Fijian (official), Hindustani

    Country name: conventional long form: Republic of the Fiji Islands
    conventional short form: Fiji
    local long form: Republic of the Fiji Islands/Matanitu ko Viti
    local short form: Fiji/Viti

    Capital: name: Suva (on Viti Levu)
    geographic coordinates: 18 08 S, 178 25 E
    time difference: UTC+12 (17 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

    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, remittances from Fijians working abroad, and a growing tourist industry - with 300,000 to 400,000 tourists annually - are the major sources of foreign exchange. Fiji's sugar has special access to European Union markets, but will be harmed by the EU's decision to cut sugar subsidies. Sugar processing makes up one-third of industrial activity but is not efficient. Fiji's tourism industry was damaged by the 2006 coup and is facing an uncertain recovery time. Long-term problems include low investment, uncertain land ownership rights, and the government's ability to manage its budget. Overseas remittances from Fijians working in Kuwait and Iraq have increased significantly.



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