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A Pacific Crossroads
A Young Geological Environment
Base and Precious Metal Mineralisation
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A Pacific Crossroads
Fiji lies south of the equator in the western
Pacific, about 3,100 km northeast of Sydney and 2,100 km north of Auckland. A volcanic
archipelago consisting of about 320 islands, it has a total area of 18,376 km2. The two
largest islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, cover nearly 16,000 km2 of this, and host the
majority of the country's 803,000 population.
||Please click on the
small map above to view a full size version.
The full size map is 172k
The country has a tropical marine
climate without extremes of temperature or humidity. Topography divides the main islands
into wetter and drier zones, the wetter south and eastern sides of both Viti Levu and
Vanua Levu attracting significantly more rain (around 3,000 mm annually) than the north
and west. Temperatures average 22°C between May and October, rising by some 10°C between
December and April when the heaviest rains occur.
Fijian culture is dominated by two
principal ethnic groups, native Fijians and people of Indian descent, who between them
comprise around 95% of the population. The Indian community came to the islands around the
beginning of this century during the development of Fiji's sugar industry. The population
is predominantly rural and, with a comparatively high level of human resource development,
Fijians have the standard of living of a lower-middle income developing country.
After 96 years as a British Crown
Colony, Fiji became an independent nation within the Commonwealth in 1970. Ethnic tensions
brought military government in 1987 and the declaration of a republic; after a brief
period, civilian rule was restored and a new Constitution was enacted in 1990.
Today, Fiji has a bicameral
parliamentary system with a 70-seat elected House of Representatives and a 34-member
appointed Senate. Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, a former Prime Minister, is the country's
President and Head of State. General elections held in 1992 and 1994 returned a coalition
government headed by Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka; the next general elections are
scheduled for 1999. Fiji rejoined the Commonwealth in mid-1997 after a ten-year absence.
||In 1928, Capt.
Kingsford-Smith and his crew made aviation history by
flying non-stop from Hawaii to Suva. Today, Air Pacific
provides Fiji's trans-ocean links
Fiji's economy is dominated by sugar,
which typically contributes around 8% of GDP and 27% of exports by value. Tourism and
garment manufacture are the other major foundations of the economy, while mining, timber
and coconut oil production also make important contributions. In 1996, gold exports of
164,300 oz were worth an estimated F$87 million, the second-largest item after sugar.
Fiji has experienced moderate growth in
GDP during most of the last ten years, with a significant increase in growth to around
4.4% in 1996 supported by new developments in the mining and quarrying industries. Annual
inflation is currently between 3% and 4%, reflecting movements in New Zealand and
Australia. The Fijian dollar is linked to a weighted basket of the currencies of its major
trading partners, and currently stands at around F$1.4 to the US dollar.
© Mining Journal 1998
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