18,376 square kilometres (7,056 square miles).
854,000 people (UN estimate for 2005).
46 people per square kilometres.
Population of Suva
167,000 people (2005 estimate).
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
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
Mount Victoria, which is also on Viti Levu, is the country’s
highest peak, at 1,322 metres (4,430ft).
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.
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.
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.
Methodist and Hindu with
Muslim and Roman Catholic minorities. A strictly fundamentalist
Methodist version of Christianity is enshrined in, and informs,
the Fijian Constitution.
Greenich Mean Time + 12 hours
240 volts AC, 50 Hz. Larger hotels also have 110 volt razor sockets.