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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 but in January 2007 became interim prime minister. Since taking power BAINIMARAMA has neutralized his opponents, crippled Fiji's democratic institutions, and refused to hold elections.


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Geography

Location
Oceania, island group in the South Pacific Ocean, about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand

Geographic coordinates
18 00 S, 175 00 E

Map references
Oceania

Area World Ranking: 157
Total 18,274 sq km
Land 18,274 sq km
Water 0 sq km

Area - comparative
Slightly smaller than New Jersey

Land boundaries
0 km

Coastline
1,129 km

Maritime claims
Measured from claimed archipelagic straight baselines
Territorial sea 12 nm
Exclusive economic zone 200 nm
Continental shelf
200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation; rectilinear shelf claim added

Climate
Tropical marine; only slight seasonal temperature variation

Terrain
Mostly mountains of volcanic origin

Elevation extremes
Lowest point Pacific Ocean 0 m
Highest point Tomanivi 1,324 m

Natural resources
Timber, fish, gold, copper, offshore oil potential, hydropower

Land use
Arable land 10.95%
Permanent crops 4.65%
Other 84.4% (2005)

Irrigated land
30 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources
28.6 cu km (1987)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Total 0.07 cu km/yr (14%/14%/71%)
Per capita 82 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural hazards
Cyclonic storms can occur from November to January

Environment - current issues
Deforestation; soil erosion

Environment - international agreements
Party to
Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
Signed, but not ratified
None of the selected agreements

Geography - note
Includes 332 islands; approximately 110 are inhabited


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  Fiji (Suva):


  GPS points from Fiji (Suva)

Koronitevora Northern


Nataulawa Western

Nakoso Northern

Lolo Creek Western

Wombalavu Creek Northern

Yalasa Western

Oandrau Island Northern




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