General information: Fiji gained independence in 1970 after being a British colony for almost a century. Democratic rule was interrupted by two military coups in 1987, sparked by dissatisfaction with the government being influenced by the Indian community (descendants of contract workers brought to the islands by the British in the 19th century). The 1990 constitution facilitated the transfer of control of the islands to local residents of Melanesian origin, but led to strong emigration of Indians; the declining population caused economic hardship, but ensured the numerical predominance of the Melanesians. Amendments adopted in 1997 made the constitution more just. Free and peaceful elections in 1999 brought an Indo-Fijian government to power, but a coup in May 2000 heralded a continued period of political chaos.
Location: Oceania, an island group in the South Pacific, about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand.
Geographic coordinates: 18° 00′ S. latitude, 175° 00′ E
Reference map: Oceania.
Area: total: 18,270 km2; land surface area: 18,270 km2; water surface area: 0 km2
Comparative area: slightly smaller than the state of New Jersey.
Land borders: 0 km.
Coastline: 1,129 km.
Maritime claims: measured from the declared boundaries of the archipelago; continental shelf: to a depth of 200 m or to the depth of field development; rights are also claimed for a vertical section of the shelf; exclusive economic zone: 200 nautical miles; territorial waters: 12 nautical miles.
Climate: tropical marine; slight seasonal temperature fluctuations.
Relief: mostly mountains of volcanic origin.
Maximum and minimum heights: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m; highest point: Mount Tomanivi 1,324 m.
Natural resources: timber, fish, gold, copper, possible offshore oil reserves, hydropower.
Land use: arable land: 10%; cultivated land: 4%; pastures: 10%; forests and plantations: 65%; others: 11% (1993 est.).
Irrigated land: 10 sq. km. (1993 est.).
Natural Hazards: Cyclonic storms occur from November to January.
Current environmental issues: deforestation; soil erosion.
International environmental agreements: member: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 1983, Tropical Timber 1994; signed but not ratified: no. Note to the section “Geography”: they occupy 332 islands, of which approximately 110 are inhabited.
Note to the section “Geography”:
Population: 844,330 (July 2001 est.).
Age structure: under 14: 32.92% (men 141,724; women 136,216); 15 to 64 years old: 63.52% (male 268,411; female 267,871); over 65: 3.56% (male 14,007; female 16,101) (2001 est.).
Population growth: 1.41% (2001 est.).
Birth rate: 23.33 newborns / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Mortality: 5.75 deaths / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Migration: -3.45 people / 1000 people (2001 est.).
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male/female; under 15: 1.04 male/female; from 15 to 64 years old: 1 male/female; over 65: 0.87 male/female; for the general population: 1.01 male/female (2001 est.);
Child mortality: 14.08 deaths/1000 live births (2001 est.).
Life expectancy: for the general population: 68.25 years; men: 65.83 years; women: 70.78 years (2001 est.).
Total fertility rate: 2.86 children/wives. (2001 est.).
Proportion of adults infected with HIV: 0.07% (1999 est.).
Number of people infected with HIV: no data.
Mortality due to AIDS: no data available.
Nationality: noun: Fijian; adjective: Fijian.
Ethnic groups: Fijians 51% (Melanesians predominate with Polynesian admixture), Indians 44%, Europeans, other Pacific Islanders, Chinese and other 5% (1998 est.).
Believers: Christian 52% (Methodist 37%, Catholic 9%), Hindu 38%, Muslim 8%, other 2%; note: Fijians are predominantly Christian, Indians are Hindu, and have a Muslim minority (1986).
Language(s): English (official), Fijian, Hindi.
Literacy: definition: persons aged 15 and over who can read and write; for the general population: 91.6%; men: 93.8%; women: 89.3% (1995 est.).
Common long form: Republic of the Fiji Islands;
Common short form: Fiji.
State structure: republic; note: the leader of the military coup, Major General Sitiveni RABUKA, formally proclaimed Fiji a republic on October 6, 1987. See a2zgov.com to know more about Fiji government and politics.
Administrative division: 4 administrative districts and 1 subordinate district*: Eastern, Western, Rotuma*, Northern, Central.
Independence: from October 10, 1970 (until 1970 a colony of Great Britain).
National holiday: Independence Day, second Monday in October (1970)
Constitution: adopted October 10, 1970; suspended 1 October 1987; new constitution proposed on 23 September 1988 and entered into force on 25 July 1990; amended July 25, 1997 to give non-ethnic Fijians greater rights and a multi-party government, amendments entered into force July 28, 1998; note – The May 1999 elections were the first held under the new constitution and the first open national elections not affected by race.
Legal system: based on the British system.
Suffrage: from the age of 21, universal.
chief of state: President Ratu Josepha ILOYLO (since 2000);
head of the government: Prime Minister Laisenia CARASE (since 2000); Deputy Prime Minister Epeli NAILATIKAU (since 2000);
government: the cabinet is appointed by the prime minister from among the members of parliament and is responsible to parliament; note – there is also a Presidential Council, which advises the president on matters of national importance, and a Grand Council of Chiefs, consisting of the most influential tribal leaders; elections: the president is elected by the Grand Council of Chiefs for a five-year term; the prime minister is appointed by the president; election results: Ratu Josepha ILOYLO elected president; distribution of votes at the Grand Council – no data.
Legislature: the bicameral parliament consists of the Senate (32 seats; 14 members are appointed by the Grand Council of Chiefs, 9 by the Prime Minister, 8 by the Leader of the Opposition, 1 by the Rotuma Island Council) and the House of Representatives (71 seats; 23 are reserved for ethnic Fijians, 19 for ethnic Indians, three for other ethnic groups, 1 for the representative of the island of Rotuma, there are no restrictions on occupying 25 seats; members of the House are elected for five years); elections: House of Representatives – last held 11 May 1999 (next to be held May 2004); election results: House of Representatives, distribution of votes between parties: NA; distribution of seats among parties: FLP 37, others 34.
Judiciary: Supreme Court, judges appointed by the president.
Political parties and leaders: Fiji Labor Party (FLP) (Mahendra CHAUDHRI); National Federated Party of Fiji (NFP) (Singh RAKKA [Singh RAKKA]); Political Party of Fiji (SVT) (predominantly ethnic Fijians) (Sitiveni RABUKA); General United Party (UGP) (David PICKERING).
Political influence groups and their leaders:
Participation in international organizations: АСР, AsDB, С, ССС, СР, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO (subscriber), ITU, OPCW, Sparteca, SPC, SPF, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNIFIL1, UNIKOM, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNTAET, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO.
Diplomatic representation in the USA: head of mission: the post of ambassador is vacant; Chargé d’Affaires Salaseini Lelelvawalu VOSAILAGI (Salaseini Lelelvawalu VOSAILAGI); office: Suite 240, 2233 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20007; phone:  (202) 337-8320; fax: [C (202) 337-1996.
US Mission: Chief of Mission: Ambassador Osman M. SIDDIQUE; embassy: 31 Loftus Street, Suva; mailing address: R. O. Box 218, Suva; phone:  314466; fax:  300081.
Description of the flag: blue with the flag of Great Britain in the upper left part and the Fijian shield in the center of the right part of the flag; the shield depicts a yellow lion over a white field divided by a St. George cross into four parts, which depict sugarcane stalks, a palm tree, bananas, and a white dove.