Fiji Travel Information

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Fiji > Map Economy History

WWF South Pacific The World Wide Fund For Nature in the South Pacific.

Facts About 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. New elections are scheduled for August 2001.
Government type: republic
note: military coup leader Maj. Gen. Sitiveni RABUKA formally declared Fiji a republic on 6 October 1987.
Capital: Suva
Currency: 1 Fijian dollar (F$) = 100 cents

Geography of 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
total: 18,270 sq km
land: 18,270 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 1,129 km
Maritime claims: measured from claimed archipelagic baselines
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation; rectilinear shelf claim added
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
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%
permanent crops: 4%
permanent pastures: 10%
forests and woodland: 65%
other: 11% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 10 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: cyclonic storms can occur from November to January
Environment - current issues: deforestation; soil erosion
Environment - international agreements:
party to:  Biodiversity, Climate 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.
Geography - note: includes 332 islands of which approximately 110 are inhabited

People of Fiji

More than half of Fiji's population lives on the island coasts, either in Suva or in smaller urban centers. The interior is sparsely populated due to its rough terrain.

Indigenous Fijians are a mixture of Polynesian and Melanesian, resulting from the original migrations to the South Pacific many centuries ago. The Indo-Fijian population has grown rapidly from the 60,000 indentured laborers brought from India between 1879 and 1916 to work in the sugarcane fields. Thousands more Indians migrated voluntarily in the 1920s and 1930s and formed the core of Fiji's business class. The native Fijians live throughout the country, while the Indo-Fijians reside primarily near the urban centers and in the cane-producing areas of the two main islands. Nearly all of the indigenous Fijians are Christian, with more than three-quarters being Methodist. About 80% of the Indo-Fijians are Hindu, 15% are Muslim, and the rest mostly Sikh, with a few Christians.

Population: 893,354 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  32.92%
15-64 years:  63.52%
65 years and over:  3.56%
Population growth rate: 1.41% 
Birth rate: 23.33 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 5.75 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: -3.45 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 14.08 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  68.25 years
male:  65.83 years
female:  70.78 years 
Total fertility rate: 2.86 children born/woman 
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
Languages: English (official), Fijian, Hindustani
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 91.6%
male: 93.8%
female: 89.3% (1995 est.)

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Fiji > Map Economy History