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Country profile - Fiji

Fiji flag

The 800-plus volcanic and coral islands that make up the Pacific nation of Fiji enjoy a tropical climate and are a prime destination for tourists.

However, since 1987 racial and political tensions have been an intermittent source of instability and international isolation.

 

In 1987 a coup by indigenous Fijians overthrew the elected, Indian-dominated coalition. This triggered a series of adverse events, including the introduction - and subsequent withdrawal - of a constitution enshrining indigenous Fijian political supremacy.

A further coup in 2000, led by businessman George Speight, saw the country's first ethnic Indian prime minister, his cabinet and several MPs held hostage for several weeks.

These events caused great harm to the economy - the tourism industry in particular - and Fiji's international reputation.

Rancour over the 2000 coup persisted, with bitter divisions over plans to amnesty those behind it. The proposals underlay tensions which culminated in a bloodless military takeover in 2006 - Fiji's fourth coup in 20 years.

Fiji's population, which resides mostly on the two main islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, is divided almost equally between indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians, the descendents of indentured labourers brought from India.

Mixing between the two groups is minimal, and informal segregation runs deep at almost every level of society.

There are also very small non-Indo-Fijian, non-Fijian minority communities, such as Chinese and Rotumans.

Although the former British colony relies heavily on the sugar and tourism industries for its foreign exchange, its economy is diverse. Gold, silver and limestone are mined, and there is a strong services sector and some light manufacturing.

Nonetheless, Fiji has been hampered by persistent trade and budget deficits, making it one of the world's largest per capita recipients of aid.

 

 

Additional information
Full name: Republic of the Fiji Islands
Population: 839,000 (2007)
Capital: Suva
Area: 18,376 sq km
Major languages: English, Fijian, Hindi
Major religions: Christianity, Hinduism, Islam
Monetary unit: 1 Fijian dollar = 100 cents
Main exports: Sugar, clothing, gold, processed fish, timber
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Cook Islands
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Republic of the Fiji Islands
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New Caledonia
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The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)
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Republic of Palau
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The Independent State of Papua New Guinea
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The Independent State of Samoa
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Solomon Islands
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Kingdom of Tonga
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Republic of Vanuatu
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Wallis and Futuna
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