FIJI DAY – Celebrate October 5

Fiji Day

Fiji Day in Fiji is a public holiday.

 October 5

Fiji Celebrates Fiji Day as a public holiday.

 

Fiji or Viti , officially Republic of the Fiji Islands, republic made up of a Melanesian island group (2005 est. pop. 893,000), c.7,000 sq mi (18,130 sq km), South Pacific. Suva is the capital.
 

 

Every year on October 5, Fiji celebrates the anniversary of its independence from Britain in 1970.  Fiji Day is the culmination of a weeklong celebration aptly called Fiji Week.  A different theme is chosen every year, but common elements include religious ceremonies and cultural performances.

 

 

Land

Fiji comprises c.320 islands, of which some 105 are inhabited. Viti Levu , the largest, constitutes half the land area and is the seat of Suva. The other important islands are Vanua Levu (the second largest), Taveuni, Kadavu, Koro, Gau, and Ovalau. In the group’s center is the Koro Sea, east of which is the Lau group. The Yasawa and Mamanuca groups are west of Viti Levu. The larger islands are volcanic and mountainous; the highest peak, Mt. Victoria, or Tomaniivi (4,341 ft/1,323 m), is on Viti Levu, which has the longest river, the Rewa. Fiji’s climate is warm and humid.

 

There are dense tropical forests on the windward sides of the islands and grassy plains and clumps of casuarina and pandanus on the leeward sides; mangrove forests are abundant, and hot springs are common in the mountain regions. The chief towns are generally seaports: Suva and Lautoka on Viti Levu; and Levuka, on a small island E of Viti Levu.

 

People

Indigenous Fijians are mainly of Melanesian origin with Polynesian elements, which are much more pronounced in the eastern islands; they account for more than half the population. Indo-Fijians, who mainly came from the subcontinent from 1879 to 1916 as indentured workers for the British, make up not quite four-tenths of the population (many left after the 1987 coup) and are engaged chiefly in the sugar industry and commerce.

 

There are also small groups of Europeans, Chinese, and Micronesians. Indigenous Fijians are mainly Christian; about three quarters of the Indo-Fijians are Hindu and one quarter are Muslim. The official languages are English and Fijian; Hindi is also spoken.

Economy

Fiji’s fertile soil yields sugarcane, coconuts, cassava, rice, sweet potatoes, bananas, pineapples, and lumber. Cattle, pigs, horses, and goats are raised. Sugar, whose processing accounts for a third of Fiji’s industrial production, is the main export. The industry has suffered since the late 1990s because of low world prices, drought, and inefficiencies, and the government is seeking to diversify the island’s commercial agriculture.

 

The sugar industry

The sugar industry was acknowledged as the driving force behind the Fijian economy for the better part of the 20th century. The industry employs about a third of the population; most of whom are of indo-Fijian descent. The sugar industry is mainly centered on the cane growing areas of Ba, Lautoka, Sigatoka, Nadi, Tavua, Rakiraki, Labasa and Seaqaqa The harvested product itself, is processed by the Fiji Sugar Corporation; which is owned by the Government in its entirety.

Tourism and mining are important to the economy, as are remittances from Fijians working abroad. Sugar, clothing, gold, silver, timber, fish, molasses, copra, and coconut oil are exported. Imports consist largely of manufactured goods, machinery and equipment, petroleum products, foodstuffs, and chemicals. Australia, Singapore, the United States, and New Zealand are the main trading partners.

Government

Fiji is governed under the 1990 constitution as amended. The president, who is head of state, is elected by the Great Council of Chiefs for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term. The government is headed by the prime minister, who is appointed by the president.

Parliament consists of a 32-seat Senate whose members are appointed, mainly by the president in consultation in part with the Great Council of Chiefs, and a 71-seat House of Representatives whose members are elected to five-year terms. Most house seats are reserved for members of Fiji’s ethnic groups; 25 are subject to open election. Administratively, Fiji is divided into four divisions and the dependency of Rotuma.

History

Polynesians presumably arrived in the islands more than 3,000 years ago; they were largely conquered and absorbed by Melanesian invaders c.1500 BC The first Europeans to visit Fiji were the Dutch navigator Abel Tasman in 1643 and British Capt. James Cook in 1774.

In the early 1800s the first European settlement was established at Levuka, which became an important whaling port in the mid-1800s. A Fijian national government, with a tribal chief as king, was established in Levuka in 1871, but in 1874, at the request of Fiji’s tribal chiefs, Great Britain annexed the islands. The capital was moved to Suva in 1882. During World War II the islands were an important supply point.

 

 

In 1970, Fiji gained independence as a member of the Commonwealth with Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara as prime minister. In 1987, Col. Sitiveni Rabuka led two coups that wrested control of the racially divided nation’s government from the ethnic Indians. Fiji was declared a republic; it also was expelled (1987-97) from the Commonwealth. In 1990 a new constitution granted nonurban native Fijians a disproportionate say in the government. Two years later Rabuka became prime minister, and in 1994 Mara was appointed president.

 

 

The constitution was amended in 1997 to give nonethnic Fijians a larger voice, and in May, 1999, Labor party leader Mahendra Chaudhry was the first ethnic Indian to become prime minister of Fiji, replacing Rabuka.

 

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/01/09/1824114.htm   

A May, 2000, coup attempt led by Fijian businessman George Speight took Chaudhry hostage and demanded an end to Indian participation in Fijian politics; the crisis led the army to seek Mara’s resignation and briefly take power. The army appointed (July, 2000) an ethnic Fijian-dominated government headed by Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase; Ratu Josefa Iloilo became president. Speight, after releasing his hostages, demanded a strong influence in the new government but was arrested by the army, and his insurgency was quashed. In 2002 he pled guilty to treason and was sentenced to life in prison.

 

 

Qarase’s government was subsequently ruled illegal by the courts, and Ratu Tevita Momoedonu was appointed prime minister of a caretaker government in Mar., 2001. New parliamentary elections in August-September resulted in a victory for the Fiji United party (SDL), which formed a Fiji-nationalist coalition government with the Conservative Alliance; Qarase again became prime minister. The post-coup period saw many Indo-Fijians forced off leased farms when ethnic Fijian landowners, who control roughly 90% of the land, did not renew leases.

In July, 2003, Qarase’s government was ruled unconstitutional because it did not include members of the opposition Labor party. In September the Labor party refused to join the government when Qarase excluded Chaudhry, and the situation remained unresolved until late in 2004 when Chaudhry decided to lead the opposition. Also in 2004, Ratu Jope Seniloli, the vice president, was convicted on charges stemming from his appointment as president by George Speight during the attempted coup in 2000; he subsequently resigned after serving a shortened sentence.

A government proposal in mid-2005 to offer amnesty to persons involved in the coup sparked protests from the opposition and from the army, whose commander threatened to intervene if such a law was passed. The Great Council of Chiefs, however, supported the proposal. Tensions between the government and army continued into 2006. The military chief, Commodore Voreqe “Frank” Bainimarama , was accused in the spring by Qarase’s party of illegally campaigning against it, and later in the year Bainimarama called for Qarase’s government to drop ethnically divisive legislation or resign. Meanwhile, President Iloilo was re-elected in Mar., 2006. Qarase’s coalition won the May parliamentary elections, and the Labor party subsequently agreed to participate in the multiparty cabinet, although Chaudry did not accept a post.

In November Qarase agreed to drop the coup amnesty proposal, but relations between the government and military remained tense; the preceding month Qarase had attempted to replace Bainimarama as military chief, but the proposed replacement refused the post. The military ultimately overthrew the government in December, and Bainimarama initially assumed the post of interim president. Opposition from the Council of Chiefs led Bainimarama to restore Iloilo to the presidency in Jan., 2007, but at the same time the president announced that he supported the commodore and Bainimarama became interim prime minister. In April the Bainimarama’s government suspended the members of the Great Council of Chiefs because of the lack of cooperation with the government. The move followed the council’s refusal to approve the government’s choice for vice president.

 

Sydney, Australia celebrates Fiji Day 2010!

 

http://www.ozfiji.com/
http://sites.google.com/site/fijidaysydney/

 

This week 2010 Fiji Celebrates FIJI DAY!

 

 

Independence comes with Responsibility.

…may God Bless the Leaders of FIJI.

 

FIJI Times for all News on Fiji: http://www.fijitimes.com/

 

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