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Fiji

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Fiji country brief

Overview

The Republic of Fiji is an archipelago of 322 islands, with an Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.26 million square kilometres. According to the Fiji Bureau of Statistics (2021), Fiji's 2021 predicted population was 893,468. Suva is Fiji's capital. Fiji's major languages are English, Fijian and Hindi, and its major religions are Christianity, Hinduism and Islam.

Political overview

The head of government is Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe 'Frank' Bainimarama, leader of the majority party (FijiFirst) in the national legislature following the November 2018 election. Fiji's head of state, who is appointed by Parliament, is President Ratu Wiliame Maivalili Katonivere. Opposition parties include the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA), led by Viliame Gavoka, People’s Alliance Party, led by Sitiveni Rabuka, and the National Federation Party (NFP), led by Professor Biman Prasad.

Fiji's next election is scheduled to take place before 9 January 2023.

Political history

Fiji became independent in 1970 after nearly a century as a British colony. On independence, Fiji adopted a constitutional democratic form of government based on the Westminster system. A series of coups (1987, 2000 and 2006) slowed Fiji’s progress to its current parliamentary democracy under the 2013 Constitution of Fiji. Fiji’s 51-seat unicameral parliament will be expanded to 55 seats following the 2022-2023 election.

The last coup occurred on 5 December 2006, led by then Commodore Bainimarama who was appointed Interim Prime Minister in January 2007. The Australian Government, in concert with other countries, the UN Security Council, the Commonwealth and the Pacific Islands Forum, strongly condemned the military's unconstitutional removal of Fiji's elected government. While travel restrictions and the suspension of bilateral defence cooperation occurred, Australia maintained a substantial development assistance program to support the people of Fiji.

After significant progress towards democracy was made by Interim Prime Minister Bainimarama, then-Foreign Minister Julie Bishop lifted Australia's travel restrictions on 31 March 2014. National elections were held on 17 September 2014. Seen as a critical step in Fiji's peaceful transition to democracy, the Australian Government lifted all remaining restrictions and resumed its Defence Cooperation Program. Fiji was welcomed back into the Commonwealth on 26 September 2014 and the Pacific Islands Forum on 22 October 2014.

Fiji has long been a strong advocate on the impacts of climate change in the Pacific. It was a founding member of the Pacific Islands Forum, serving as Chair in 2022.

Fiji is a member of international organisations including the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations and the World Trade Organisation.

Bilateral relations

The Republic of Fiji established formal diplomatic relations with Australia immediately following its independence on 10 October 1970.

Australia and Fiji share a strong and enduring bilateral relationship, underpinned by the 'Fiji-Australia Vuvale Partnership' signed on 16 September 2019. The term 'vuvale', which means family in Fijian, was chosen to reflect the depth, breadth, and warmth of our relationship. The Partnership is broad-ranging and comprehensive and builds on the already strong foundations in the Fiji-Australia relationship. It has paved the way for deeper security, economic and people-to-people links between both countries. It also commits Australia and Fiji to strengthening bilateral political cooperation.

On 25 May 2022, in her first week as Foreign Minister, Senator the Hon. Penny Wong travelled to Fiji, demonstrating the importance Australia places on our relationship with Fiji.

For more information on Australia’s engagement with Fiji, please see Australia - Fiji engagement.

Trade and investment ties

Given its reliance on tourism, Fiji’s economy was severely impacted by the pandemic. With the return of tourism since borders reopened in December 2021, Fiji is anticipating strong economic growth of 12.4 per cent in 2022-23.  

Fiji and Australia have strong trade and investment ties. Australia is one of Fiji’s major trading partners and a source of foreign investment for Fiji. Australian investments in Fiji are focused on tourism, the financial sector and manufacturing.

Major Australian exports to Fiji include wheat, liquified propane and butane, meat and paper, and major Fiji exports to Australia include gold, textiles and cereals.

For more information on the bilateral trade and investment relationship, please see the Fiji economic fact sheet.

Development assistance

Please see the overview of Australia's aid program to Fiji and the Fiji development fact sheet.

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