Fiji Encyclopedia

Fiji is an island state of Oceania in the southwestern Pacific made up of 320 islands, of which about a hundred are inhabited, and over 500 islets; it is located between 16 ° and 20 ° lat. S (with the exception of the northernmost island of Rotuma), and between 177 ° long. E and 178 ° long. O. The capital, Suva, is on the island of Viti Levu.

Physical characteristics

The presence of some ‘continental’ rock formations (slate, quartzite) suggests that the Fiji are the residue of a much larger area, emerging in geologically distant eras. The major islands are mountainous (in Viti Levu, Mount Victoria is 1323 m high) and made up of materials of volcanic origin (lava, tuff), raised in recent times, where the waterways have dug narrow and deep incisions. The other islands and rocks are instead largely made up of atolls. The climate is tropical, the average annual temperature is 26 ° C in Suva: February and March are the hottest months; July and August the coldest. The rainfall, strong in the hot season, averages over 3800 mm per year.


The population consists mainly of Fijians (54.3%) and Indians (38.2%). Following the coups d’état of 1987, the emigration of considerable Indian contingents began. The natural growth rate, highest among the Fijian population, was 1.4% in 2009, with an infant mortality rate of 11.50 ‰. Majority religions are the Christian (predominantly Methodist) and the Hindu, with a consistent minority of Muslims (respectively 52.9%, 38.1% and 7.8%).

Economic conditions

According to HOMEAGERLY, the Fijian economy is largely based on agriculture and in particular on the cultivation of sugar cane. However, since the 1980s, sugar production has dropped significantly (366,000 t in 2006 against 500,000 in 1980), following the vicissitudes of the international market and the negative climatic conditions. Other products are tobacco, palm oil and, expanding, rice. Also noteworthy is the forestry heritage (1.2 million ha), for the exploitation of which a large plant was built (1987) in Lautoka (Viti Levu), and fishing. The only mineral resource is gold. The tourism sector is of growing importance (545,000 visitors in 2006). Communications use Nadi International Airport (Suva).


The population of the Fiji came about thanks to the migratory movements of the Lapita groups. (12th -10th century BC). In 1643 the Dutch AJ Tasman landed in the archipelago. Settlement site of European settlers from the second half of the 18th century, the Fiji became an English colony in 1874. The compromise between the British authorities and the aristocracy of hereditary indigenous leaders imposed restrictions on the exploitation of local labor for the cultivation of cane sugar, the country’s main product, inducing settlers to resort to importing workers from India. This import, which continued until the 1920s, meant that the population of Indian origin became an increasingly large share of the total, while maintaining a clearly subordinate political and social status. In the mid-1960s the Indians made up over 50% of the population and were the strongest supporters of the country’s independence, while the indigenous, who feared losing supremacy, they tended to maintain ties with Great Britain. Independence, within the Commonwealth, was achieved in 1970. After more than fifteen years of permanence in power by the Alliance Party, an expression of the Fijian ethnic group, the 1987 elections led to the formation of a coalition government between the National Federation Party, with a progressive orientation and spokesperson for Indian interests, and the Fiji Labor Party, rooted among workers of both ethnicities.  Soon after there was a military coup, backed by the right, followed a few months later by another, which proclaimed the Republic, with the consequent exclusion from the Commonwealth, and abrogated the Constitution of 1970, replaced by another that strengthened the power of the indigenous leaders by accentuating the inferiority of the Indians. The dominance of the Fijian community was mitigated by a constitutional reform in 1990, which provided for multi-ethnic representation. The political elections of 1999 led for the first time an Indian leader, M. Chaundhry, to assume the leadership of the government. A year later Chaundhry was forced to resign by a new coup, sponsored by a group of Fijian nationalists, following which the armed forces led by V. ‘Frank’ Bainimarama suspended the Constitution, decreeing a state of emergency, and promoted the formation of a coalition executive with the nationalist forces, which sanctioned the return of the Fijian minority to power. The new government, led by L. Qarase, was later confirmed in the 2001 and 2006 elections. With a new coup d’état at the end of 2006, Bainimarama overthrew Qarase and was entrusted with the post of prime minister by the president RJ Iloilo. The first consultations after the coup, held in September 2014, sanctioned the clear victory of Bainimarama ‘s party with 59.2% of the votes., Fiji First, against 28% of the votes won by the Liberal Social Democratic Party (SODELPA); the electoral result allowed the politician to assume the office of premier, reconfirmed in the consultations held in November 2018, which recorded a new affirmation of Fiji First (50%) over SODELPA (39.8%).


The typical pottery of the Lapita culture has been unearthed on the coasts of the Viti Levu, Naigani and Lakeba islands. The Lapita deposits also returned lithic axes, ornaments and shell tools. The class of impressed ceramics belongs to the Navatu phase (site of Viti Levu; 100 BC-1100 AD)., with geometric motifs decorations. The pottery of the 2nd millennium AD (sites of Vunda, in Viti Levu, and on the Teveuni island) is characterized by a decorated and engraved pottery, the latter particularly widespread between 1100 and 1800 (Vunda phase). Numerous fortified settlements on the hills and in the valley floor date back to the 2nd millennium AD. The ceremonial complexes were divided into a series of courtyards bordered by walls that separated the complexes into 3 distinct units.

Fiji basin. Large sector of the Pacific Ocean to the South of the homonymous islands, bordered on the E by the remarkable ocean trenches of Tonga and Kermadec. It touches the northeastern coast of New Zealand. Maximum depth, 4329 meters.

Fiji Encyclopedia