Republic of Fiji
CAPITAL : Suva
FLAG : The national flag of Fiji consists of the red, white, and blue Union Jack in the upper left corner of a light blue field, with the Fiji shield in the lower right corner.
ANTHEM : God Bless Fiji.
MONETARY UNIT : The Fiji dollar ( F $) of 100 cents is the national currency. There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents, and notes of 1, 2, 5, 10, and 20 Fiji dollars. F $1 = US $0.5181 (or US $1 = F $1.93) as of May 2003.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES : The metric system is official, but some British weights and measures are still in use.
HOLIDAYS : New Year's Day, 1 January; Constitution Day, 24 July; Independence Day, 10 October; Christmas Day, 25 December; Boxing Day, 26 December. Movable religious holidays include Good Friday, Easter Monday, Dewali, and Milad an-Nabi.
TIME : 12 midnight = noon GMT.
The larger Fiji islands are volcanic, with rugged peaks, and flatland where rivers have built deltas. Coral reefs surround the islands. Viti Levu's highest point, Tomanivi, is 1,323 m (4,340 ft); 28 other peaks are over 910 m (3,000 ft). Its main river, the Rewa, is navigable by small boats for 113 km (70 mi).
FLORA AND FAUNA
The larger islands have forests on the windward side and grassland on the leeward slopes. Mangroves and coconut plantations fringe the coasts. Among indigenous fauna are bats, rats, snakes, frogs, lizards, and many species of birds.
The indigenous Fijian population is predominantly Melanesian, with a Polynesian admixture. In 1998, the population was estimated to be 51% indigenous Fijian, 44% Indian, and 5% European, other Pacific Islanders, overseas Chinese, and other.
English is the official language, but Fijian and Hindi are also used in Parliament. Fijian dialects belong to the Malayo-Polynesian language group; the Bau dialect is used throughout the archipelago except on Rotuma, where Rotuman is spoken. Hindustani (a local dialect of Hindi) is the lingua franca of the Indians of Fiji.
About 52% of Fijians are Christians, primarily Methodist (37%) and Roman Catholic (9%). Among Indian Fijians, 38% are Hindu, 8% Muslim (Sunni), and 2% other. The newly amended constitution (1998) provides for freedom of religion, and the government reportedly respects this right in practice. Confucianism is practiced by a portion of the Chinese community.
Fiji's active armed forces in 2002 numbered 3,500 backed up by some 6,000 reserves. The army totalled 3,200 with 300 in the navy. Of Fiji's seven infantry battalions, two are deployed abroad in Egypt (MFO) and Lebanon (UNIFIL), and observers are stationed in Iraq and Papua New Guinea. Fiji spent $35 million in 2000, or 2.2% of GDP, on defense.
Beef production was some 8,900 tons in 2001; pork, 3,870 tons; and goat meat, 950 tons. A breed of sheep highly adapted to the tropics was introduced in 1980. Fiji's poultry production was 8,420 tons in 2001, and egg production was 2,668 tons that same year.
Some 45% of the land area is forested, and 253,000 ha (625,000 acres) are suitable for commercial use. Large-scale planting of pines under the 1986–90 development plan involved reforestation of 50,000 ha (120,000 acres). Output of logs in 2000 totaled 486,000 cu m (17,156,000 cu ft). Exports of sawn timber and other wood products were valued at $22.2 million in 2000. The first exports of pine logs started in 1980.
The best-known Fijians are Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna (d.1958), the first speaker of the Legislative Council in 1954; Ratu Sir George Cakobau (1911–89), the first Fijian to be governor-general; and Ratu Sir Kamisese K. T. Mara (b.1922), elected prime minister in 1970 and president in 1994.
Fiji has no territories or colonies.
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