Flag of Fiji

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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 2000 ushered in a prolonged period of political turmoil. Parliamentary elections held in August 2001 provided Fiji with a democratically elected government and gave a mandate to the government of Prime Minister Laisenia QARASE.

Geographic coordinates:

18 00 S, 175 00 E

Map references:



total: 18,270 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 18,270 sq km

Maritime claims:

measured from claimed archipelagic straight 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


tropical marine; only slight seasonal temperature variation


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: 10.95%
permanent crops: 4.65%
other: 84.4% (2001)

Irrigated land:

30 sq km (1998 est.)

Natural hazards:

cyclonic storms can occur from November to January

Environment - current issues:

deforestation; soil erosion

Geography - note:

includes 332 islands of which approximately 110 are inhabited


880,874 (July 2004 est.)

Median age:

total: 24 years
male: 23.6 years
female: 24.4 years (2004 est.)

Population growth rate:

1.41% (2004 est.)

Birth rate:

22.91 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)

Death rate:

5.68 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)

Net migration rate:

-3.14 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 est.)

Government type:

note: military coup leader Maj. Gen. Sitiveni RABUKA formally declared Fiji a republic on 6 October 1987


Suva (Viti Levu)


10 October 1970 (from UK)

National holiday:

Independence Day, second Monday of October (1970)


promulgated on 25 July 1990 and amended on 25 July 1997 to allow nonethnic Fijians greater say in government and to make multiparty government mandatory; entered into force 28 July 1998; note - the May 1999 election was the first test of the amended constitution and introduced open voting - not racially prescribed - for the first time at the national level

Legal system:

based on British system

Economy - overview:

Fiji, endowed with forest, mineral, and fish resources, is one of the most developed of the Pacific island economies, though still with a large subsistence sector. Sugar exports and a growing tourist industry - with 300,000 to 400,000 tourists annually - are the major sources of foreign exchange. Sugar processing makes up one-third of industrial activity. Long-term problems include low investment, uncertain land ownership rights, and the government's ability to manage its budget. Yet short-run economic prospects are good, provided tensions do not again erupt between indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians.

Labor force:

137,000 (1999)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture, including subsistence agriculture 70% (2001 est.)

Unemployment rate:

7.6% (1999)

Agriculture - products:

sugarcane, coconuts, cassava (tapioca), rice, sweet potatoes, bananas; cattle, pigs, horses, goats; fish


tourism, sugar, clothing, copra, gold, silver, lumber, small cottage industries

Exports - commodities:

sugar, garments, gold, timber, fish, molasses, coconut oil

Exports - partners:

US 23.5%, Australia 19.3%, UK 13.5%, Samoa 6%, Japan 4.7% (2003 est.)

Imports - commodities:

manufactured goods, machinery and transport equipment, petroleum products, food, chemicals

Imports - partners:

Australia 35%, Singapore 19.2%, New Zealand 17.1%, Japan 4.8% (2003 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

$40.3 million (1995)


Fijian dollar (FJD)

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Telephones - main lines in use:

102,000 (2003)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

109,900 (2003)


total: 597 km
narrow gauge: 597 km 0.600-m gauge
note: belongs to the government-owned Fiji Sugar Corporation; used to haul sugarcane during harvest season (May to December) (2003)


total: 3,440 km
paved: 1,692 km
unpaved: 1,748 km (1999 est.)


203 km
note: 122 km navigable by motorized craft and 200-metric-ton barges (2004)

Ports and harbors:

Lambasa, Lautoka, Levuka, Malau, Savusavu, Suva, Vuda

Merchant marine:

total: 2 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 6,372 GRT/7,453 DWT
foreign-owned: Australia 1, Singapore 1 (2003 est.)
by type: chemical tanker 1, passenger 1


28 (2003 est.)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 3
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2003 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 25
914 to 1,523 m: 6
under 914 m: 19 (2003 est.)

Military branches:

Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF): Land Forces, Naval Division