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Fiji

Fiji

Summary

In 2016, Cyclone Winston hit Fiji and devastated the islands, leaving many displaced.1 Fiji has a high poverty rate, with 34 percent of the population falling under the poverty line.2 The group of islands is governed by a president who originally came into power through a coup in 2006, and then was re-elected as president in 2014 through an election declared to be credible by an international audience.3 However, Bainimarama’s installation to power led to sanctions from the European Union as well as Australia, two of Fiji’s main trading partners. The sanctions hurt the economy and slowed widespread reform.4 1 https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/87562 2 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/fj.html 3 Ibid 4 http://www.heritage.org/index/country/fiji

Demographics

Nationality
Fijian
Population
896,758 (July 2013 est.)
Ethnic Groups
Languages
Religions

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Environment
Family
Human Rights
Education
Poverty
Religion
Clean Water
Economy
Government
Health
Children
Animals

Environment

Fiji is made up of 332 islands in the Pacific Ocean, of which 110 are populated. Some of the nation’s natural resources include timber, gold, fish, copper and oil production.1 Waste incineration is one of the nation’s environmental concerns, contributing to air pollution alongside vehicle emissions.2 Deforestation and soil erosion are two other issues the islands face, as bush burning destroys native flora and fauna, and affects the rate of soil erosion.3 In 2016, Cyclone Winston hit Fiji, and was the second largest cyclone to hit land in recorded history, with sustained winds up to 185 mph.4 The storm displaced thousands of people, even destroying entire communities in some areas.5

Family

Approximately 64 percent of Fijian women will experience — or have experienced — physical or sexual violence at the hands of a partner in their lifetime,1 this number rises to 72 percent if you include emotional abuse.2 Though Fiji has legislation in place to protect women from domestic violence, the Fiji Women’s Crisis Center says few cases are prosecuted.3 The crisis center claims that difficulties in curbing domestic violence stem from overarching cultural values within the patriarchal society.4

Human Rights

With Fiji’s record of four military coups in two decades, their human and civil rights record has suffered.1 With a military backed government led by Commodore Bainimarama, arbitrary arrests and civilian intimidation by police and military officials have become the norm rather than the exception.2 Fiji has been cited for human rights violations by Amnesty International, for its failure to provide true freedom of speech, as well as improper treatment of detainees.3

Education

The Fijian literacy rate is almost 94 percent.1 3.9 percent of Fiji’s GDP goes toward education, ranking Fiji at 102nd in the world for education expenditures.2 The 2018 national education budget was $1 billion, and the minister of economy stated that the government viewed education as the most valuable asset to the economy. Portions of the budget will be allocated to special needs students and to counseling services, as well as school libraries. Additionally, $700,000 will go toward updating teachers’ quarters in remote regions.3

Poverty

The unemployment rate in Fiji is 5.5 percent,1 and 34 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.2 In 2016, Cyclone Winston hit Fiji, and was the second largest cyclone to hit land in recorded history, with sustained winds up to 185 mph.3 The storm displaced thousands of people, even destroying entire communities, in some areas.4

Religion

The religious population of Fiji is 45% Protestant, 28% Hindu, 10% other Christian, 9% Roman Catholic, 6% Muslim, 0.3 percent Sikh, 0.3 percent Other and 0.8 percent claim none.1 Hinduism, Sikhism and Islam were introduced to Fiji as the British took indentured servants from India and brought them to Fiji to work in the sugar plantations while the islands were still under British rule.2

Clean Water

Approximately 96 percent of the island has regular access to clean water, yet 9 percent of the population does not have access to modern sanitation facilities.1 The Fijian water supply, sanitation and hygiene promotion programs are governed by four different ministries: the Water Sewage Department, Water Authority of Fiji, Ministry of Health and Mineral Resources.2 One of the recent improvements is the development of administrative legislation establishing national guidelines for water infrastructures.3

Economy

Fiji is abundant in natural resources; its forests, minerals, fishing industry and sugar industry, with tourism play a key role in the economy.1 In 2016, Cyclone Winston damaged one of the island’s sugar mills, and the European Union withdrew its preferential sugar pricing from the island in 2017. These two events caused considerable complications for the Fijian sugar industry. 2 The unemployment rate is at 5.5 percent and approximately 31 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, a rather high rate, even on an international scale.3

Government

Fiji is a former British colony that gained its independence in 1970 and currently operates as a form of republic government.1 Since its independence, the small island nation has struggled with maintaining a consistent rule of law and the democratic processes, especially after numerous coups.2 The most recent coup in 2006 brought Commodore Bainimarama to power, amid promises that he would hold free and fair elections in the future. Bainimarama was then elected as president in fall of 2014.3 Bainimarama’s installation to power led to sanctions from the European Union as well as Australia, two of Fiji’s main trading partners, and the sanctions hurt the economy and slowed the reform process.4

Health

The infant mortality rate in Fiji is 9.5 deaths per 1,000 live births, and the maternal mortality rate is 30 deaths per 100,000 births.1 Fiji’s life expectancy rate is 73 years, ranking 140th in the world, an internationally average rate.2 In summer of 2018, the Ministry of Health expressing its concerns over diabetes and cardiovascular disease in Fiji, stating that while neither diabetes nor heart disease were leading causes of death in the country, awareness and prevention were of utmost concern to the Ministry of Health.3 Fiji recently suffered a meningitis outbreak, and were forced to bring in additional meningococcal C vaccines.4

Children

Human traffickers use Fiji as a hub for the commercial sex industry, forced labor and prostitution.1 Fiji has very few visa requirements that provide plenty of room for visa exploitation and fluid migration over borders.2 Children are at a heightened risk, as parents often send their children to live with relatives in larger cities in order to send income home.3 Though Fiji has adopted legislation to help eliminate trafficking, the implementation of these policies leaves much to be desired. Currently there are no formal procedures in place to track and gather data on trafficking victims, particularly within the island’s vulnerable populations.4

Animals

In fall of 2016, the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) partnered with Animals Fiji — an NGO — with a Memorandum of Understanding that allied the two parties to protect animals through better veterinary care and increased animal disease reporting. The chairman of the BAF stated that the intent of the agreement was to improve the welfare of Fijian animals, as well as prevent the spread of diseases like rabies.1 A number of species of sea turtles in the islands are endangered or at risk. As a result, the World Wildlife Fund sponsors a program that works alongside former turtle hunters to preserve the species, tracking the turtles and performing catch-and-release check-ups with the help of the former hunters’ insights.2

Fiji

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