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State

Capital

Fiji

Suva

Currency unit

Fiji dollar

Connections

Democracy

Empire

Military

Western Pacific

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

History

Fiji is a former British colony recently suspended from the Commonwealth but then restored. Independence was in 1970

This group of islands was settled by Austronesian speaking peoples earlier than 1000 BC. They were found by Abel Tasman in 1643. There is a mixed Melanesian Polynesian culture.

The first king was proclaimed in 1854. He was one of the traditional chiefs, although there had not been a king before. The idea of modern kingship was brought by the missionaries who arrived about 1835. A British Consul was appointed in 1857. The colony was proclaimed in 1874.

Planters arrived in 1880 wishing to grow sugar, and, failing to persuade the Melanesian Fijians to work in the plantations, brought workers from India. The colonial social structure then became one in which the Fijian landowners acted as the upper class while the Indians worked on the sugar estates and from there moved into business and professional work.

After independence the state was headed by a Governor General with the Queen as nominal Head of State. Since the Rabuka coup the head of state has been a President, with similar powers to the former GG.

When the Indians became a majority and a government with Indian representation was elected in 1987 the Fijian army under Sitiveni Rabuka led a coup against the elected government of Timoci Bavadra, himself a Fijian of the upper class. This government was a coalition of the Labour Party with Indian groups. It had brought to an end a long period of power by one party and intended to expose the corruption that had built up during this period. However the outgoing government allied itself with extreme racist groups who wished to expel the people of Indian origin. They resented the domination of commercial and economic life by the people of Indian origin. They may have had support from the United States who feared a potential left wing government which intended to emulate New Zealand and forbid nuclear armed ships from entering Fijian waters.

Racism
The military appointed a government and brought in a new constitution which kept people of Indian origin from holding power. Some left and the economy of the country suffered as their business expertise went with them. Fiji was suspended from the Commonwealth, as this constitution resembled the South African system of racial discrimination. (But there are others in the Pacific region who seemed to agree with Rabuka.)

The restoration of democracy resulted in Fiji being restored to the Commonwealth. The May 2000 events may lead to further suspension.

Languages

Fijian

English

Indian languages

 History

 Economics

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 Climate

Politics

Military government.

The 1987 coup by Rambuka led to Fiji being suspended from the Commonwealth.

The coup was against a government which had won a general election conducted on a common voters' roll. But the government of the Fiji Labour Party represented a coalition of poorer Fijians and Indians. The coup was intended to preserve the political dominance of the landowning native Fijians. A new constitution has been enacted which ensures that the Indians, even though they are a slight majority, cannot gain political power. It has been suggested that this is a similar condition to South African Apartheid.

Elections in May 1992 resulted in the coup leader being appointed prime minister after winning a plurality.

Fiji was restored to membership of the Commonwealth, after the constitution was amended in 1997. Some of the Indian population has left.

In May 1999 a general election resulted in a Labour Party led coalition being returned and Sitiveni Rabuka, the former coup leader, resigned. The new prime minister, Mahendra Chaudry, was of Indian origin. In May 2000 he was overthrown by another nativist leader who demanded that non-Fijians be forbidden from taking government posts. The army leader then took power, possibly with the approval of the President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, who then resigned. Two months of stalemate then occurred with the former ministers held as hostages in the Parliament building, while the army handed power of appointment to the Council of Chiefs.

A further army mutiny occurred in November 2000, increasing the insecurity.

In March 2001 the Supreme Court ruled the interim government illegal according to the constitution and an election was called under the previous constitution. There was then an election for a new parliament.

In November 2006 the army chief agitated against the government, calling it corrupt, and threatened to take over. He announced he had taken over on 4 December 2006.

In April 2009 the Supreme Court declared the resulting government illegal. The president then suspended the constitution and reappointed the military government.

 History

 Politics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

Economics

Sugar is the main export but tourism is an important source of foreign exchange. The political disturbances have dissuaded tourists. The gradual expulsion of citizens of Indian origin also damages the economy as they filled many of the business positions.

Tourists have stayed away since the coups of 2000.

The sugar industry is in decline - interesting narrow gauge railways to serve the sugar industry.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Rights

 Climate

Green/Ecology

The coup leader of May 2000, George Speight, wanted to give licences to cut the mahogany forests. If they were cut it would increase erosion.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Climate

Human Rights

A racially biassed constitution designed to keep power out of the hands of the immigrant community of Indian origin has caused Fiji to be expelled from the Commonwealth.

Possibly things will improve with the new constitution and government.

The events of May 2000 may lead to suspension again.

Since the latest constitutional coup in April 2009 there is total censorship of print and electronic media.

Climate effects

One degree
Rising sea level may make the coastal plains unusable

Two degrees
Most of the coastal plain will disappear under rising sea level. Mountain area will continue to be available.

Last revised 15/04/09


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