Fiji is situated in the centre of the South Pacific Ocean, on the International Dateline. It has a total landmass of about 18,000 square kilometres and a population of approximately 800,000. Fiji’s estimated annual Gross Domestic Product in the year 2014 was US$4,500 million.
Travel to Fiji is via direct flights from the mainland United States, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and other South Pacific island states.
Fiji is a multiracial country made up of indigenous Fijian (57%), Asian Indian (37%) and Caucasian, Chinese, other Pacific Islanders and persons of mixed race.
English, Fijian and Hindi are Fiji’s official languages. English is widely spoken and is the language of business, government and the Court system.
The official currency of Fiji is the Fiji dollar, which ranges in exchange value at between US$0.50 and US$0.56.
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Fiji became a British colony under the Deed of Cession of 1874 and gained its independence in 1970. Its law and institutions are largely derived from British antecedents.
For most of its life as an independent state, Fiji has been subject to a written constitution as its supreme law. The Independence Constitution of 1970 guaranteed fundamental freedoms in accordance with international norms and set the parameters for Fiji’s unique electoral system based on proportionate electoral representation for all races.
A military coup took place in 1987. This led to a controversial new Constitution in 1990, aimed to ensure disproportionately high electoral representation for the indigenous Fijian community. An interim government ruled by decree before elections in 1992. Many of its decrees remain in force, having been ratified by the 1997 Constitution.
In 1997 Parliament voted in a new Constitution restoring ethnic balance to electoral representation and with mechanisms designed to ensure multi-party co-operation at a political level.
The 2000 uprising and resulting military takeover led in that year to the installation of an “Interim Civilian Government” which, under pressure from court challenges, held elections in July 2001, which were won by the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL) Party. The SDL Party was re-elected in March 2006. As the Constitution demands, it offered to share power with the second-biggest party, the Fiji Labour Party, resulting in a coalition government. However following tensions between the SDL and Fiji’s military, the government was overthrown in a December 2006 coup, Fiji’s fourth.
Following the Qarase v Bainimarama Court of Appeal decision on 9 April 2009, the court declared overthrow of the SDL government to be unconstitutional, the President abrogated the 1997 Constitution the same day. A new Constitution was promulgated on 6 September 2013.
Army Commander Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama ruled as Prime Minister from 5 December 2006 and under general elections held on 17 September 2014, won 32/50 seats in the House of Representatives and continues as Prime Minister.