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Fiji (the Republic of the Fiji Islands) is in Melanesia in the South Pacific to the north of New Zealand. Vanuatu lies to the west and Tonga to the east. It is an archipelago of more than 330 volcanic islands of which 110 are inhabited.

The islands were first inhabited by Austronesians and Melanesians over 2,000 years ago. Discovered by the Dutch (Abel Tasman) in 1643, Europeans only settled in the 19th century when missionaries, whalers, and sandalwood traders arrived.

Fiji remained independent until 1874 when it became a Crown Colony of Britain. The UK brought in contract labourers from India to work on sugar plantations and Indians now make up nearly half of the population.

The country gained independence in 1970 as a Commonwealth realm, later becoming a republic in 1987. Two coups, aimed at curbing the dominance of Indian Fijians, and persistent unrest, culminated in a military takeover in 2006. This led to Indian emigration and economic hardship.

Although an election in 2014 was deemed credible, there remain constitutional issues in the country. Tourism and sugar are the main industries.

Fiji consists of 332 islands. The two most important are Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, which account for three-quarters of the total land area and hold most of the population. They are mountainous with peaks of up to 1,324m covered with thick forests.

The country is comprised of volcanic islands on oceanic basement with a complex geological history in an arc setting at the junction of the Indo-Australian and Pacific tectonic plates. There are number of shallow and deep water sedimentary basins surrounding the islands and 7 oil and gas exploration wells have been drilled, either offshore or on small islands. None were successful.

The sedimentary section comprises predominantly reef and platform limestones with volcaniclastics and it seems likely that no trapping opportunities exist to accumulate commercial volumes of oil and gas. Fiji thus has forest, mineral and fish resources but no identified indigenous oil or gas potential, either onshore or offshore. Globalshift believes that it is very unlikely to achieve any production in the future.


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Coral reef



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Brief history of the country

Fiji is a parliamentary representative democratic republic with the Prime Minister as head of government and the President as Head of State of a multi-party system.

Local government, in the form of city and town councils, is supervised by the Ministry of Local Government and Urban Development.

The Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources oversees activity in Fiji.

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