Fiji

Region: Oceania-Melanesia

Capital: Suva

Population: 868,400 (UNDP 2011)

Surface area: 18,270 sq km

Currency: Fijian dollar (FJD)

GDP per capita: Purchasing power parity US $4,600 (2011 est.) CIA

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. In January 2007, Bainimarama was appointed interim prime minister.

Economy – Overview
Fiji, endowed with forest, mineral, and fish resources, is one of the most developed of the Pacific island economies though still with a large subsistence sector. Sugar exports, remittances from Fijians working abroad, and a growing tourist industry – with 400,000 to 500,000 tourists annually – are the major sources of foreign exchange. Fiji’s sugar has special access to European Union markets but will be harmed by the EU’s decision to cut sugar subsidies. Sugar processing makes up one-third of industrial activity but is not efficient. Fiji’s tourism industry was damaged by the December 2006 coup and is facing an uncertain recovery time. In 2007 tourist arrivals were down almost 6%, with substantial job losses in the service sector, and GDP dipped. The coup has created a difficult business climate. The EU has suspended all aid until the interim government takes steps toward new elections. Long-term problems include low investment, uncertain land ownership rights, and the government’s inability to manage its budget. Overseas remittances from Fijians working in Kuwait and Iraq have decreased significantly. Fiji’s current account deficit peaked at 23% of GDP in 2006, and has been improving since that year. (CIA, 2012)

Major Export Commodities: sugar, garments, gold, timber, fish, molasses, coconut oil

Remittances: US $177 million USD (World Bank 2011 est.)

Human Development Index 2011 ranking: 100 out of 187 countries

Official Development Assistance and Major Development Partners: Net ODA: US $76 million (OECD 2010).  Major development partners: Australia, Japan, E.U. New Zealand, UNDP

Total External Debt: $127 million (2004 est.)

Life Expectancy at Birth: 69.2 years (UNDP 2011)

Environmental Indicators:

                                      Endangered Species (as a % of all species): 15

                                      Forested Area (percentage of land area): 55.1

                                      CO2 Emissions (tonnes per capita): 1.5

                                       (Data Source: UNDP 2011)

United Nations Membership Date: 13 October 1970

New York Mission:
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Fiji to the United Nations
630 Third Avenue, 7th Floor
New York, N.Y.10017USA
Telephone: 212-687-4130
Fax: 212-687-3963,
Website: http://www.fijiprun.org

Sources:

CIA World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. www.cia.gov

World Development Indicators. World Bank www.worldbank.org

Development, Recipient Aid Charts. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. www.oecd.org

Human Development Report 2012.United Nations Development Programme. www.undp.org

Image of Flag and Map copyright of Wikimedia Commons

 

Updated July 2012