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Fiji General Info
Fiji General Information - TravelPuppy.com
Area

18,376 square kilometres (7,056 square miles).

Population

854,000 people (UN estimate for 2005).

Population Density

46 people per square kilometres.

Capital

Suva.

Population of Suva

167,000 people (2005 estimate).

Geography

Some key geographical facts:

Fiji is situated in the South Pacific, 3,000 kilometres (1875 miles) east of Australia and approximately 1,930 kilometres (1,200 miles) south of the Equator.

The country comprises 322 islands, 105 of which are uninhabited (some are little more than rugged, with limestone islets or tiny coral atolls).

The 3 largest islands are Viti Levu (Great Fiji), Vanua Levu (Great Land of the People), both of which are destroyed volcanoes rising abruptly from the sea, and Taveuni.

There are 1000's of streams and small rivers in Fiji, the largest being the Rewa River on Viti Levu, which is navigable for 128 kilometres (80 miles).

Mount Victoria, which is also on Viti Levu, is the country’s highest peak, at 1,322 metres (4,430ft).

Government

The 1998 constitution allows for a bicameral legislature. In the 71 member Vale (House of Representatives), whose members are popularly elected for 5 year terms, over half the seats are allocated to specific ethnic communities (23 to Fijians, 19 to Indians), the remainder are open, to be contested by anyone. The Seniti (Senate), which also serves a 5 year term, has 34 members, 24 are elected by the traditional Council of Chiefs, while the remainder are appointed. The Council of Chiefs elects the President to serve a 5 year term.

Fiji has been Republic since 1987.

The Head of State has been President Ratu Josefa Ilolio since 2000.

The President is appointed for a 5 year term by the Great Council of Chiefs (Bosu Levu Vakaturaga), a traditional body with roughly 70 members, consisting of every hereditary Fijian chief (or ratu).

The Head of Government has been Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase since 2000.

Recent history

The 1987 general election brought to power a coalition between the major ethnic Indian party, the National Federation Party, led by Marendra Chaudhry, and the newly formed Labour Party. The new Government had several Indian ministers, which proved too much for many nationalist native Fijians (referred to as Taukei). This was the cause for an army coup d’état, headed by Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka. Colonel Rabuka declared himself head of an interim military Government and introduced a new constitution, under which blocs of seats in a new assembly were allocated to specific ethnic groups, thereby assuring a Taukei majority. Under this format, the 1992 elections brought to power a coalition dominated by the main ethnic Fijian party. Rabuka supposed the premiership.

By the time the revised constitution came into effect in 1998, Fiji’s poor economic performance had damaged the Rabuka Government’s popularity. The Fijian Labour Party then secured an absolute majority in the Vela and an Indian Prime Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, took office. In May 2000, George Speight organised a coup, holding Chaudhry and other ministers as hostages while he issued a succession of demands. The stand off lasted 2 months. After originally conceding to most of the rebel demands (including the dismissal of Chaudhry), the military, led by Commodore Frank Bainanarama, took control at the beginning of July. A few weeks later, the military moved opposing to Speight and his followers, who were arrested. An interim Government under the veteran Taukei politician, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, was installed with Laisenia Qarase as Premier.

Following the elections in August 2001, a coalition Government was formed between the smaller Conservative Alliance Party (Matanitu Vanua) and the Fiji United Party and, despite the fact that most votes were won by the Labour Party, Laisenia Qarase remained as Prime Minister. The islands have since enjoyed reasonable stability, although nothing has been done to address the essential causes of Fiji’s political problems. Qarase closely defeated Chaudhry's Labout Party in the 2006 elections.

Language

The principal languages are Fijian and Hindustani, however English is widely spoken and is also taught in schools. Urdu and Chinese are heard in the markets.

Religion

Methodist and Hindu with Muslim and Roman Catholic minorities. A strictly fundamentalist Methodist version of Christianity is enshrined in, and informs, the Fijian Constitution.

Time Zone

Greenich Mean Time + 12 hours

Electricity

240 volts AC, 50 Hz. Larger hotels also have 110 volt razor sockets.
Useful travel links
CIA Factbook - Fiji information on the geography, people & maps