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
Area land: 18,274 sq km
Area water: 0 sq km
Coastline: 1,129 km
Country name conventional long form: Republic of the Fiji Islands
Country name conventional short form: Fiji
Country name former: Republic of the Fiji Islands
Population: 883,125 (July 2011 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 28.9% (male 130,409/female 124,870); 15-64 years: 65.9% (male 297,071/female 284,643); 65 years and over: 5.2% (male 21,187/female 24,945) (2011 est.);
Population growth rate: 0.798% (2011 est.)
Birth rate: 21.11 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Death rate: 5.9 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
Net migration rate: -7.24 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female; under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female; 15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female; 65 years and over: 0.81 male(s)/female; total population: 1 male(s)/female (2011 est.);
Infant mortality rate: total: 11 deaths/1,000 live births; male: 12.12 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 9.82 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.);
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 71.31 years; male: 68.73 years; female: 74.03 years (2011 est.);
Total fertility rate: 2.61 children born/woman (2011 est.);
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.1% (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: fewer than 1,000 (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - deaths: fewer than 100 (2009 est.);
Nationality: noun: Fijian(s); adjective: Fijian;
Ethnic groups: Fijian 57.3% (predominantly Melanesian with a Polynesian admixture), Indian 37.6%, Rotuman 1.2%, other 3.9% (European, other Pacific Islanders, Chinese) (2007 census);
Religions: Christian 64.5% (Methodist 34.6%, Roman Catholic 9.1%, Assembly of God 5.7%, Seventh Day Adventist 3.9%, Anglican 0.8%, other 10.4%), Hindu 27.9%, Muslim 6.3%, Sikh 0.3%, other or unspecified 0.3%, none 0.7% (2007 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.);
GDP (purchasing power parity): $3.792 billion (2010 est.); $3.725 billion (2009 est.); $3.821 billion (2008 est.);
GDP (official exchange rate): $3.154 billion (2010 est.);
GDP - real growth rate: 1.8% (2010 est.); -2.5% (2009 est.); -0.1% (2008 est.);
GDP - per capita (PPP): $4,300 (2010 est.); $4,300 (2009 est.); $4,400 (2008 est.);
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 8.9%; industry: 13.5%; services: 77.6% (2004 est.);
Population below poverty line: 25.5% (FY90/91);
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%; highest 10%: NA%;
Labor force: 335,000 (2007 est.);
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 70%; industry and services: 30% (2001 est.);
Unemployment rate: 7.6% (1999);
Budget: revenues: $1.363 billion; expenditures: $1.376 billion (2006);
Industries: tourism, sugar, clothing, copra, gold, silver, lumber, small cottage industries;
Industrial production growth rate: NA%;
Electricity - production: 928 million kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - consumption: 863 million kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2008 est.);
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2008 est.);
Statistics: CIA World Factbook.
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Displaying 1 to 4 of 28 items.
In September Fiji will have its first democratic election since the Qarase government was deposed in a bloodless coup in December 2006 by military forces.
As Fiji continues its efforts to reinstitute democratic institutions, its relations with Australia continue to frustrate and complicate the process.
Moves to reduce pension payments, curb the rights of union workers and force changes to the regime's leadership have all stirred resistance within Fiji as of late.
Neighboring countries recently helped extract a former Fijian officer while he was under investigation, only making it harder for Fiji to create the kind of democratic society it needs.