Asia

Fiji country profile

  • 1 September 2015
  • From the section Asia
Map of Fiji Image copyright bbc

Fiji is one of the most developed economies in the Pacific, relying heavily on its tourism and sugar industries.

Since independence from Britain in 1970, rivalry between the indigenous Fijian and the ethnic Indian communities has been at the root of much of the political upheaval in the country.

In 2014, Frank Bainimarama was sworn in as prime minister, eight years after seizing power in a military coup.

KEY FACTS

Republic of the Fiji Islands

Capital: Suva

  • Population 876,000

  • Area 18,376 sq km (7,095 sq miles)

  • Major languages English, Fijian, Hindi

  • Major religions Christianity, Hinduism, Islam

  • Life expectancy 67 years (men), 72 years (women)

  • Currency Fijian dollar

GETTY IMAGES

LEADERS

President: Epeli Nailatikau

A veteran army officer, diplomat and hereditary chief, Epeli Nailatikau became president in July 2009 on the retirement of his predecessor Josefa Iloilo.

He was ousted as army chief by coup leader Sitiveni Rabuka in 1987, and joined the diplomatic corps. He turned down an opportunity to become prime minister after the 2000 coup, but served in the interim government of Laisenia Qarase.

He was elected speaker after democracy was restored in 2001, and held ministerial posts after the 2006 coup. President Iloilo appointed him vice-president in April 2009, at the same time as he suspended the constitution. Mr Nailatikau endorsed President Iloilo's decision on taking office himself a few months later.

Prime Minister: Josaia Voreqe "Frank" Bainimarama

Image copyright Getty Images

Former military leader Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama was sworn in as prime minister in September 2014, eight years after overthrowing the government of Laisenia Qarase in a bloodless coup, accusing it of corruption and a bias towards ethnic Fijians.

An indigenous Fijian born in 1954, Mr Bainimarama has long championed equal rights for the country's minority ethnic Indian community. More commonly known as Frank, he is sometimes referred to with the title Ratu to denote his heritage as a chief.

MEDIA

Image copyright AFP

Since the introduction of the government's Media Decree in 2012, the Fiji Media Industry Development Authority controls what is published by the media industry. Media organizations and journalists face harsh penalties for publishing material not in the public interest. This has led to a degree of self censorship.

TIMELINE

Some key dates in Fiji's history:

1643 - Dutch explorer Abel Tasman is the first European to visit the islands.

1970 - Independence after a century of British rule.

1987 - The first of two coups overthrows the Indian majority government of Prime Minister Timoci Bavadra.

1999 - Mahendra Chaudhry is elected Fiji's first ethnic Indian prime minister but is overthown a year later.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A Fijian soldier guards parliament following the 2006 military coup led by Frank Bainimarama

2014 - Former military leader Frank Bainimarama is elected prime minister, eight years after seizing power in a coup.

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