Fiji has 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.
The archipelago consists of some 300 islands and 540 islets scattered over about 1,000,000 square miles (3,000,000 square km). Of the 300 islands, about 100 are inhabited.
President: Jioji Konousi Konrote
Jioji Konousi Konrote was elected as president in October 2015. He is the first non-indigenous president and the first to be elected by parliament. Previous presidents were selected by the Great Council of Chiefs (GCC).
He has had a long career in the military, government and diplomatic service.
Prime Minister: Josaia Voreqe "Frank" Bainimarama
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.
Private TV and radio stations operate alongside outlets run by the state-owned Fiji Broadcasting Corporation.
Reporters Without Borders has praised the media's "spirit of resistance" but says journalists are restricted by a "draconian" media decree.
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.
2014 - Former military leader Frank Bainimarama is elected prime minister, eight years after seizing power in a coup.