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Fiji

Fiji officially the Republic of Fiji is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about 1,100 nautical miles (2,000 km; 1,300 mi) northeast of New Zealand's North Island. Its closest neighbours are Vanuatu to the west, France's New Caledonia to the southwest, New Zealand's Kermadec to the southeast, Tonga to the east, the Samoas, France's Wallis and Futuna to the northeast and Tuvalu to the north.
The majority of Fiji's islands were formed through volcanic activity started around 150 million years ago. Today, some geothermal activity still occurs on the islands of Vanua Levu and Taveuni. Fiji has been inhabited since the second millennium BC. The country comprises an archipelago of more than 332 islands, of which 110 are permanently inhabited, and more than 500 islets, amounting to a total land area of circa 18,300 square kilometres (7,100 sq mi). The two major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, account for 87% of the population of almost 850,000. The former contains Suva, the capital and largest city. Most of Fijians live on Viti Levu's coasts, either in Suva or in smaller urban centres. Viti Levu's interior is sparsely inhabited due to its terrain.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Dutch and the British explored Fiji. Fiji was a British colony up until 1970; British occupation lasted almost a century. Because of the abundance of forest, mineral, and fish resources, Fiji is one of the most developed economies in the Pacific island realm. Today, the main sources of foreign exchange are its tourist industry and sugar exports. The country's currency is the Fijian dollar.
Fiji has a local government system where city and town councils fall under the general supervision of the Ministry of Local Government and Urban Development. President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau became Fiji's president, after a high court ruled that the military leadership was unlawfully appointed after a 2006 coup. During World War II, the United Kingdom allowed for many thousands of Fijians to volunteer to aid in Allies' efforts via their attachment to the New Zealand and Australian army units. The Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF), consist of land and naval units.



History of Fiji

Pottery art from Fijian towns shows that Fiji was settled before or around 3500–1000 BC, although the question of Pacific migration still lingers. It is believed that the Lapita people or the ancestors of the Polynesians settled the islands first but not much is known of what became of them after the Melanesians arrived; they may have had some influence on the new culture, and archaeological evidence shows that they would have then moved on to Tonga, Samoa and even Hawai'i.
The first settlements in Fiji were started by voyaging traders and settlers from the west about 5000 years ago. Lapita pottery shards have been found at numerous excavations around the country. Aspects of Fijian culture are similar to Melanesian culture to the western Pacific but have stronger connection to the older Polynesian cultures such as those of Samoa and Tonga. Trade between these three nations long before European contact is quite obvious with canoes made from native Fijian trees found in Tonga and Tongan words being part of the language of the Lau group of islands. Pots made in Fiji have been found in Samoa and even the Marquesas Islands.

Across 1000 kilometres from east to west, Fiji has been a nation of many languages. Fiji's history was one of settlement but also of mobility. Over the centuries, a unique Fijian culture developed. Constant warfare and cannibalism between warring tribes was quite rampant and very much part of everyday life. During the 19th century, Ratu Udre Udre is said to have consumed 872 people and to have made a pile of stones to record his achievement. According to Deryck Scarr ("A Short History of Fiji", 1984, page 3), "Ceremonial occasions saw freshly killed corpses piled up for eating. 'Eat me!' was a proper ritual greeting from a commoner to a chief." Scarr also reported that the posts that supported the chief's house or the priest's temple would have sacrificed bodies buried underneath them, with the rationale that the spirit of the ritually sacrificed person would invoke the gods to help support the structure, and "men were sacrificed whenever posts had to be renewed" . Also, when a new boat, or drua, was launched, if it was not hauled over men as rollers, crushing them to death, "it would not be expected to float long" . Fijians today regard those times as "na gauna ni tevoro" (time of the devil). The ferocity of the cannibal lifestyle deterred European sailors from going near Fijian waters, giving Fiji the name Cannibal Isles, in turn Fiji was unknown to the rest of the outside world.
The Dutch explorer Abel Tasman visited Fiji in 1643 while looking for the Great Southern Continent. Europeans settled on the islands permanently beginning in the 19th century. The first European settlers to Fiji were beachcombers, missionaries, whalers and those engaged in the then booming sandalwood and bêche-de-mer trade.
Ratu Seru Epenisa Cakobau was a Fijian chief and warlord from the island of Bau, off the eastern coast of Viti Levu, who united part of Fiji's warring tribes under his leadership. He then styled himself as King of Fiji or Tui Viti and then to Vunivalu or Protector after the Cession of Fiji to Great Britain. The British subjugated the islands as a colony in 1874, and the British brought over Indian contract labourers to work on the sugar plantations as the then Governor and also the first governor of Fiji, Arthur Charles Hamilton-Gordon, adopted a policy disallowing the use of native labour and no interference in their culture and way of life. In 1875–76, an epidemic of measles killed over 40,000 Fijians, about one-third of the Fijian population. The population in 1942 was approximately 210,000 of whom 94,000 were Indians, 102,000 native Fijians, 2,000 Chinese and 5,000 Europeans.
The British granted Fiji independence in 1970. Democratic rule was interrupted by two military coups in 1987 because the government was perceived as dominated by the Indo-Fijian (Indian) community. The second 1987 coup saw the Fijian monarchy and the Governor General replaced by a non-executive President, and the country changed the long form of its name from Dominion of Fiji to Republic of Fiji (and to Republic of the Fiji Islands in 1997). The coups and accompanying civil unrest contributed to heavy Indo-Fijian emigration; the population loss resulted in economic difficulties but ensured that Melanesians became the majority.
In 1990, the new Constitution institutionalised the ethnic Fijian domination of the political system. The Group Against Racial Discrimination (GARD) was formed to oppose the unilaterally imposed constitution and to restore the 1970 constitution. Sitiveni Rabuka, the Lieutenant Colonel who carried out the 1987 coup became Prime Minister in 1992, following elections held under the new constitution. Three years later, Rabuka established the Constitutional Review Commission, which in 1997 led to a new Constitution, which was supported by most leaders of the indigenous Fijian and Indo-Fijian communities. Fiji is re-admitted to the Commonwealth of Nations.


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The new millennium brought along another coup, instigated by George Speight, that effectively toppled the government of Mahendra Chaudhry, who became the country's first Indo-Fijian Prime Minister following the 1997 constitution. Commodore Frank Bainimarama assumed executive power after the resignation, possibly forced, of President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara. Fiji was rocked by two mutinies at Suva's Queen Elizabeth Barracks, later in 2000 when rebel soldiers went on a rampage. The High Court ordered the reinstatement of the constitution, and in September 2001, a general election was held to restore democracy, which was then won by interim Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase's Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua party.
In 2005, amid much controversy, the Qarase government proposed a Reconciliation and Unity Commission, with power to recommend compensation for victims of the 2000 coup, and amnesty for its perpetrators. However, the military strongly opposed this bill, especially the nation's top military commander, Frank Bainimarama. Bainimaram agreed with detractors who said that it was a sham to grant amnesty to supporters of the present government who played roles in the violent coup. His attack on the legislation, which continued unremittingly throughout May and into June and July, further strained his already tense relationship with the government. In late November 2006 and early December 2006, Bainimarama was instrumental in the 2006 Fijian coup d'état. Bainimarama handed down a list of demands to Qarase after a bill was put forward to parliament, part of which would have offered pardons to participants in the 2000 coup attempt. He gave Qarase an ultimatum date of December 4 to accede to these demands or to resign from his post. Qarase adamantly refused to either concede or resign and on December 5, President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, was said to have signed a legal order dissolving Parliament after meeting with Bainimarama.

In April 2009, the Fiji Court of Appeal ruled that the 2006 coup had been illegal. This began the 2009 Fijian constitutional crisis. President Iloilo abrogated the constitution, removed all office holders under the Constitution including all judges and the Governor of the Central Bank. He then reappointed Bainimarama as Prime Minister under his "New Order" and imposed a "Public Emergency Regulation" limiting internal travel and allowing press censorship.
For a country of its size, Fiji has fairly large armed forces, and has been a major contributor to UN peacekeeping missions in various parts of the world. In addition, a significant number of former military personnel have served in the lucrative security sector in Iraq following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.


fiji

Politics of Fiji

Politics of Fiji takes place within the framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic. Fiji has a multi-party system with the Prime Minister of Fiji as head of government. The executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Parliament of Fiji.
The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Executive branch

Fiji's Head of State is the President. He is elected by the Great Council of Chiefs, after consulting with the Prime Minister, for a five-year term. Although his role is largely an honorary one, modelled after that of the British monarchy, the President has certain "reserve powers" that may be used in the event of a national crisis. In practice, attempts by the President to assert the reserve powers have proved problematic. In 2000, in the midst of a civilian coup d'état against the elected government, President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara announced on 27 May that he was assuming executive authority, but was evidently forced to resign two days later by the military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama.
The President is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
Actual executive power is in the hands of the Cabinet, presided over by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is formally appointed by the President, but must be acceptable to a majority of the House of Representatives. In practice, this usually reduces the President's role to little more than a formality, with the position automatically going to the leader of the political party or coalition that controls a majority of seats.
There have been times, however, when there has been no clear majority in the House of Representatives. The parliamentary election of 1992 was inconclusive, and the position of the largest party, the Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei, was further undermined by subsequent defections. On such occasions, the President takes on the role of an arbitrator. After consulting with all the parliamentary factions, he appoints as Prime Minister the person he judges to be the most acceptable to the majority in the House of Representatives. If no such person can be found, the President is required to order a new election.
Another situation requiring presidential intervention arose following the 1999 election. The People's Coalition won a landslide victory; with the largest party in the coalition, the Fiji Labour Party, winning a majority in its own right. Some of the smaller parties in the coalition expressed unease at the prospect of Mahendra Chaudhry, the Labour Party leader and an Indo-Fijian, becoming Prime Minister, saying that he would be unacceptable to indigenous Fijian voters that they represented. President Mara, however, persuaded them to accept Chaudhry as Prime Minister.
The Cabinet, consisting of around ten to twenty five ministers, is formally appointed by the President on the nomination of the Prime Minister. According to the constitution, the Cabinet is supposed to reflect the political composition of the House of Representatives, with every party holding more than 8 seats in the House entitled to proportionate representation in the Cabinet. In practice, this rule has never been strictly implemented. In 1999, Chaudhry refused to give ministerial posts to the Fijian Political Party, saying that its demands were unacceptable. From 2001 to 2004, Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, whose coalition dominated by his Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua had narrowly won the 2001 election, refused to include the Fiji Labour Party in his cabinet, and avoided implementing several subsequent Supreme Court verdicts ordering him to do so by appealing each successive verdict, until the Labour Party announced late in 2004 that it was no longer interested in joining the cabinet.

 

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