|WWF South Pacific The World Wide Fund For Nature in the South Pacific.|
|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.
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
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.)
SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State
Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Fiji > Map Economy History