Geographic and Governmental Profile of Fiji

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). The coups and a 1990 constitution that cemented native Melanesian control of Fiji led to heavy Indian emigration; the population loss resulted in economic difficulties, but ensured that Melanesians became the majority. A new constitution enacted in 1997 was more equitable. Free and peaceful elections in 1999 resulted in a government led by an Indo-Fijian, but a civilian-led 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 led by Prime Minister Laisenia QARASE. Re-elected in May 2006, QARASE was ousted in a December 2006 military coup led by Commodore Voreqe BAINIMARAMA, who initially appointed himself acting president but in January 2007 became interim prime minister. Since taking power BAINIMARAMA has neutralized his opponents, crippled Fiji's democratic institutions, and refused to hold elections.
Location
Oceania, island group in the South Pacific Ocean, about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand
Geographic coordinates
18 00 S, 175 00 E
Continent / Subcontinent
Oceania
Area
total:
18,274 sq km
rank:
157
land:
18,274 sq km
water:
0 sq km
Area - comparative
slightly smaller than New Jersey
Land boundaries
0 km
Coastline
1,129 km
Maritime claims
measured from claimed archipelagic straight baselines
territorial sea:
12 nm
exclusive economic zone:
200 nm
continental shelf:
200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation; rectilinear shelf claim added
Climate
tropical marine; only slight seasonal temperature variation
Terrain
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% (2005)
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Irrigated land
30 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
28.6 cu km (1987)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
total:
0.07 cu km/yr (14%/14%/71%)
per capita:
82 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
cyclonic storms can occur from November to January
Environment - current issues
deforestation; soil erosion
Environment - international agreements
party to:
Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified:
none of the selected agreements
Geography - note
includes 332 islands; approximately 110 are inhabited
Country name
conventional long form:
Republic of Fiji
conventional short form:
Fiji
local long form:
Republic of Fiji/Matanitu ko Viti
local short form:
Fiji/Viti
Government type
republic
Capital
name:
Suva (on Viti Levu)
geographic coordinates:
18 08 S, 178 25 E
time difference:
UTC+12 (17 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time:
+1hr, begins fourth Sunday in October; ends first Sunday in March
Administrative divisions
4 divisions and 1 dependency*; Central, Eastern, Northern, Rotuma*, Western
Independence
10 October 1970 (from the UK)
Constitution
enacted 25 July 1997; effective 28 July 1998; note - constitution encourages multiculturalism and makes multiparty government mandatory
Legal system
common law system based on the English model
International law organization participation
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
Suffrage
21 years of age; universal
Executive branch
chief of state:
President Ratu Epeli NAILATIKAU (since 30 July 2009)
head of government:
Prime Minister Laisenia QARASE (since 10 September 2000); note - although QARASE is still the legal prime minister, he has been confined to his home island; former President ILOILOVATU appointed Commodore Voreqe BAINIMARAMA interim prime minister under the military regime
cabinet:
Cabinet appointed by the prime minister from among the members of Parliament and responsible to Parliament; note - coup leader Commodore Voreqe BAINIMARAMA has appointed an interim cabinet
elections:
under the constitution, president elected by the Great Council of Chiefs for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); in 2007 the Great Council of Chiefs was suspended from its role in electing the president; prime minister appointed by the president
election results:
Ratu Epeli NAILATIKAU was appointed by Chief Justice Anthony GATES
Legislative branch
bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (32 seats; 14 members appointed by the president on the advice of the Great Council of Chiefs, 9 appointed by the president on the advice of the Prime Minister, 8 on the advice of the opposition leader, and 1 appointed on the advice of the council of Rotuma) and the House of Representatives (71 seats; 23 members reserved for ethnic Fijians, 19 reserved for ethnic Indians, 3 reserved for other ethnic groups, 1 reserved for the council of Rotuma constituency encompassing the whole of Fiji, and 25 open seats; members serve five-year terms)
elections:
House of Representatives - last held on 6-13 May 2006 (next to be held in 2011)
election results:
House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - SDL 44.6%, FLP 39.2%, UPP 0.8%, independents 4.9%, other 10.5%; seats by party - SDL 36, FLP 31, UPP 2, independents 2
Judicial branch
Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the president); Court of Appeal; High Court; Magistrates' Courts
Political parties and leaders
Dodonu Ni Taukei Party or DNT [Fereti S. DEWA]; Fiji Democratic Party or FDP [Filipe BOLE] (a merger of the Christian Democrat Alliance or VLV [Poesci Waqalevu BUNE], Fijian Association Party or FAP, Fijian Political Party or SVT [Sitiveni RABUKA] (primarily Fijian), and New Labor Unity Party or NLUP [Ofa SWANN]); Fiji Labor Party or FLP [Mahendra CHAUDHRY]; General Voters Party or GVP (became part of United General Party); Girmit Heritage Party or GHP; Justice and Freedom Party or AIM; Lio 'On Famor Rotuma Party or LFR; National Federation Party or NFP [Pramond RAE] (primarily Indian); Nationalist Vanua Takolavo Party or NVTLP [Saula TELAWA]; Party of National Unity or PANU [Ponipate LESAVUA]; Party of the Truth or POTT; United Fiji Party/Sogosogo Duavata ni Lewenivanua or SDL [Laisenia QARASE]; United Peoples Party or UPP [Millis Mick BEDDOES]
Political pressure groups and leaders
Group Against Racial Discrimination or GARD [Dr. Anirudk SINGH] (for restoration of a democratic government); Viti Landowners Association
International organization participation
ACP, ADB, AOSIS, C (suspended), CP, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NAM, OPCW, PCA, PIF, Sparteca (suspended), SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMISS, UNMIT, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador Winston THOMPSON
chancery:
2000 M Street, NW, Suite 710, Washington, DC 20036
telephone:
[1] (202) 466-8320
FAX:
[1] (202) 466-8325
Diplomatic representation from the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador C. Steven MCGANN
embassy:
31 Loftus Street, Suva
mailing address:
P. O. Box 218, Suva
telephone:
[679] 331-4466
FAX:
[679] 330-0081
Flag description
light blue with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and the Fijian shield centered on the outer half of the flag; the blue symbolizes the Pacific ocean and the Union Jack reflects the links with Great Britain; the shield - taken from Fiji's coat of arms - depicts a yellow lion above a white field quartered by the cross of Saint George; the four quarters depict stalks of sugarcane, a palm tree, bananas, and a white dove
National anthem
name:
"God Bless Fiji"
lyrics/music:
Michael Francis Alexander PRESCOTT/C. Austin MILES (adapted by Michael Francis Alexander PRESCOTT)
adopted 1970; the anthem is known in Fijian as "Meda Dau Doka" (Let Us Show Pride); adapted from the hymn, "Dwelling in Beulah Land," the anthem's English lyrics are generally sung, although they differ in meaning from the official Fijian lyrics
Data source 1: All Above textual data, maps and flags were extracted from The World Factbook which was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and made available on the following link: The World Factbook. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsered or affiliated, in any way, by the US Central Intelligence Agency
Data source 2: Plots and Charts are constructed using the world bank public data catalog which can be viewed by visiting the following link: World Bank Data Catalog. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsored or affiliated, in any way, by the worldbank

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