Text source: Wallace Revells
Introduction / History
Fiji is a nation of volcanic islands located in the South Pacific Ocean approximately 1750 miles east of Australia. Known for its picturesque beauty, Fiji is a tourism destination like many of the islands in the South Pacific. Having functioned as a democratic republic for 30 years or so, recent events have converted the functioning governmental operation of the nation into a military dictatorship. The 2007 census reports that the people of Fiji are composed of Fijian 57.3% (mix of Melanesian and Polynesian), Indian 37.6%, Rotuman 1.2%, and others (European, Pacific Islanders, Chinese) 3.9%. The belief systems active on Fiji are Protestant Christianity 50%, Hindu 28%, Roman Catholicism 9%, Islam 6% with other various beliefs making up the remainder. The official languages of Fiji are English and Fijian and the population as of 2012 is approximately 900,000.
After being discovered and inhabited by various people of Melanesian, Polynesian, and Micronesian origins, Fiji was eventually settled by the British as the result of the activity of the shipping trade. Fiji gained independence in 1970 after nearly a century as a British colony. Democratic rule was interrupted by two military coups in 1987 caused by concern over perceived governmental domination by the Indian community (descendants of contract laborers brought to the islands by the British in the 19th century). The coups and a 1990 constitution that cemented native Melanesian control of Fiji led to heavy Indian emigration. The population loss resulted in economic difficulties and ensured that Melanesians became the majority. A new constitution enacted in 1997 was more equitable. Free and peaceful elections in 1999 resulted in a government led by an Indo-Fijian but a civilian-led coup in May 2000 ushered in a prolonged period of political turmoil. Parliamentary elections held in August 2001 provided Fiji with a democratically elected government led by Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase. Re-elected in May 2006, Qarase was ousted in a December 2006 military coup led by Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama. Bainimarama initially appointed himself acting president and became interim prime minister in January of 2007. Since taking power, Bainimarama has neutralized his opponents, crippled Fiji's democratic institutions, and refused to hold elections. The island nation functions today as a military dictatorship.
Where are they located?
Fiji is a group of volcanic islands about 1750 miles east of northern Australia. The geographic coordinates are 18 00 south and 175 00 east. The islands have a total land area slightly smaller than the US state of New Jersey and coastline measuring 702 miles. The climate is tropical maritime and varies very little throughout the year. Tropical Cyclone season runs from November through January.
What are their lives like?
Fiji is blessed with forest, mineral, and fish resources and is one of the most developed of the Pacific island economies even though they retain a large subsistence sector. Sugar exports, remittances from Fijians working abroad, and a growing tourism industry (500,000 tourists visit annually) are the major sources of national income.
Fiji's tourism industry was damaged by the December 2006 coup and it is facing uncertainty in its recovery. In 2007, tourist arrivals were down almost 6% resulting in substantial job losses in the service sector and reductions in national GDP. The coup has created a difficult business climate. Reductions in the sale of sugar to Europe have impacted the nation's cash flow. In addition, the EU has suspended all aid until the interim government takes steps toward new elections. Long-term problems for Fiji include low investment, uncertain land ownership rights, and the government's inability to manage its budget. Overseas remittances from Fijians working in Kuwait and Iraq have decreased significantly. Fiji's current account deficit peaked at 23% of GDP in 2006 but has improved slightly each subsequent year.
As much as 70% of the people of Fiji are employed by some aspect of agricultural business. Fiji is somewhat affluent as compared to many of its neighbors in the South Pacific, although many Fijians practice subsistence farming and a growing number are unemployed due to the negative economic results of the military coup. Slightly more than half of the population of 900,000 live in urban areas. The lifestyle of these people is much like the lives of people in any developed country. The lifestyle of the people in the rural areas can vary significantly.
While facing challenges to healthy living, the Fijians average a life expectancy of 71 years. Most people are educated and most families average 2 children per home.
Fiji uses the Fijian Dollar as its currency, which varies in strength against the USD. Fiji is 17 hours ahead of the US Eastern Time Zone. Communication and transportation services are very similar and have availability much like any developed country. The international dialing code for Fiji is 679.
What are their beliefs?
The belief systems active on Fiji are Protestant Christianity 50%, Hindu 28%, Roman Catholicism 9%, Islam 6% and other various beliefs making up the remainder. These statistics are very reliable for the urbanized areas but it should be kept in mind that the beliefs of the rural areas can vary greatly. Belief systems can become modified over time to incorporate aspects of other belief systems including superstition and folklore.
The official languages of Fiji are English and Fijian.
What are their needs?
Every location throughout the world needs clear and concise expositional teaching from the Bible. Any people, nation, or belief system can drift from the true teaching of the Bible over time. Fiji, like any other nation, will benefit from persistent Bible teaching reminding them of the true message from scripture as it was originally recorded.
Fiji is open to Christian teaching and opportunities to visit the rural areas, where hybridized versions of faith practices can be numerous, are many. A helpful practice of Christian workers is to train the trainers where local believers' knowledge and skills can be supplemented better preparing them to reach out to their countrymen. It should also be kept in mind that learning from the locals can also be a great opportunity for the missionaries.
Bibles, teaching materials, and raw material supplies can be valuable gifts for people in remote areas since access to these supplies can be limited.
* Pray for God to call this people group to Himself
* Pray for God to invigorate His people on the islands to accomplish His work
* Pray for the opportunity to reach out to other islands in the region
* Pray for access for God's people to evangelize the lost
* Pray for safety and provision for all who labor for God's kingdom
ReferencesView Fijian in all countries.
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