About Fiji
Fiji Island is a Melanesian country located in the South Pacific Ocean. It lies about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand and consists of an archipelago that includes 332 Islands, a handful of which make up most of the land area, and approximately 110 of which are inhabited. Fiji has an interesting blend of Melanesian, Polynesian, Micronesian, Indian, Chinese and European influences. 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.
Fiji’s main Island is known as Viti Levu and it is from this that the name "Fiji" is derived, through the pronunciation of their Island neighbours in Tonga. Fiji Islands are surrounded by magnificent coral reefs and lapped by warm azure waters - the diving and snorkelling are superb. Amid its wealth of natural beauty, Fiji's true magic lies in its people and the fascinating blend of their diverse cultures.
Fiji enjoys a typical tropical climate, with a trade wind blowing across the Islands to cool things down during most of the year. Maximum summer temperatures average 88ºF (31ºC), with the winter average not far different at 84ºF (29ºC). Rain can be expected at any time of year. The driest months are April, May, June and October. The mild climate allows visitors to enjoy Fiji all year round, although it is especially popular with visitors who are leaving their own cool winter months. May to October is the best time to travel to Fiji, as this time has cooler temperatures, less rainfall and humidity and less risk of tropical cyclones.
Fiji Map
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. In January 2007, BAINIMARAMA was appointed interim prime minister.

Location:

Oceania, Island group in the South Pacific Ocean, about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand
Area:

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

Coastline:

1,129 km

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)
Natural hazards:

Cyclonic storms can occur from November to January

Population:

918,675 (July 2007 est.)

Ethnic groups: Fijian 54.8% (predominantly Melanesian with a Polynesian admixture), Indian 37.4%, other 7.9% (European, other Pacific Islanders, Chinese) (2005 estimate)

Religions:

Christian 53% (Methodist 34.5%, Roman Catholic 7.2%, Assembly of God 3.8%, Seventh Day Adventist 2.6%, other 4.9%), Hindu 34% (Sanatan 25%, Arya Samaj 1.2%, other 7.8%), Muslim 7% (Sunni 4.2%. other 2.8%), other or unspecified 5.6%, none 0.3% (1996 census)

Languages:

English (official), Fijian (official), Hindustani

Literacy: Definition: age 15 and over can read and write, total population: 93.7%, male: 95.5%, female: 91.9% (2003 est.)

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)
Administrative divisions:

4 divisions and 1 dependency*; Central, Eastern, Northern, Rotuma*, Western

Legal system:

Based on British system

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the president); Court of Appeal; High Court; Magistrates' Courts

Driving

People in drive on the Right-hand side of the road and give way to the left.
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, remittances from Fijians working abroad, and a growing tourist industry - with 300,000 to 400,000 tourists annually - are the major sources of foreign exchange. Fiji's sugar has special access to European Union markets, but will be harmed by the EU's decision to cut sugar subsidies. Sugar processing makes up one-third of industrial activity but is not efficient. Fiji's tourism industry was damaged by the December 2006 coup and is facing an uncertain recovery time. The coup has created a difficult business climate. Tourist arrivals for 2007 are estimated to be down almost 6%, with substantial job losses in the service sector. In July 2007 the Reserve Bank of Fiji announced the economy was expected to contract by 3.1% in 2007. Fiji's current account deficit reached 23% of GDP in 2006. The EU has suspended all aid until the interim government takes steps toward new elections. Long-term problems include low investment, uncertain land ownership rights, and the government's inability to manage its budget. Overseas remittances from Fijians working in Kuwait and Iraq have increased significantly.

GDP composition by sector:

$3.731 billion (2007 est.), agriculture: 8.9%, industry: 13.5%, services: 77.6% (2004 est.)

Industries:  

tourism, fish processing, shipping, boat building, coconut processing, garments, woven mats, rope, handicrafts, coral and sand mining

Electricity

220 volts

Currency (code):

Fijian dollar (FJD)

Credit Cards

Credit cards are normally accepted by banks and most hotels, restaurants and tourist shops

VAT

VAT - 12.5%
Telephone system

general assessment: modern local, interIsland, and international (wire/radio integrated) public and special-purpose telephone, telegraph, and teleprinter facilities; regional radio communications center
domestic: telephone or radio telephone links to almost all inhabited Islands; most towns and large villages have automatic telephone exchanges and direct dialing; combined fixed and mobile-cellular density is about 35 per 100 persons
international: country code - 679; access to important cable links between US and Canada as well as between NZ and Australia