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Introduction

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Fiji (/ˈfi/ (About this soundlisten) FEE-jee; Fijian: Viti [ˈβitʃi]; Fiji Hindi: फ़िजी), officially the Republic of Fiji (Fijian: Matanitu Tugalala o Viti; Fiji Hindi: फ़िजी गणराज्य), is an island country in Melanesia, part of Oceania in the South Pacific Ocean about 1,100 nautical miles (2,000 km; 1,300 mi) northeast of New Zealand's North Island. Its closest neighbours are Vanuatu to the west, New Caledonia to the southwest, New Zealand's Kermadec Islands to the southeast, Tonga to the east, the Samoas and France's Wallis and Futuna to the northeast, and Tuvalu to the north. Fiji consists of an archipelago of more than 330 islands—of which 110 are permanently inhabited—and more than 500 islets, amounting to a total land area of about 18,300 square kilometres (7,100 sq mi). The most outlying island is Ono-i-Lau. The two major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, account for 87% of the total population of 898,760. The capital, Suva on Viti Levu, serves as Fiji's principal cruise -port. About three-quarters of Fijians live on Viti Levu's coasts, either in Suva or in smaller urban centres like Nadi (with tourism as the major local industry) or Lautoka (sugar-cane industry). Viti Levu's interior is sparsely inhabited due to its terrain.

The majority of Fiji's islands formed through volcanic activity starting around 150 million years ago. Today, some geothermal activity still occurs on the islands of Vanua Levu and Taveuni. The geothermal systems on Viti Levu are of non-volcanic origin with low-temperature (35-60 degrees Celsius) surface discharges - Sabeto Hot Springs near Nadi offer a good example. Humans have lived in Fiji since the second millennium BC - first Austronesians and later Melanesians, with some Polynesian influences. Europeans visited Fiji from the 17th century, and, after a brief period as an independent kingdom, the British established the Colony of Fiji in 1874. Fiji operated as a Crown colony until 1970, when it gained independence as the Dominion of Fiji. A military government declared a republic in 1987 following a series of coups d'état. In a coup in 2006, Commodore Frank Bainimarama seized power. When the High Court ruled the military leadership unlawful in 2009, President Ratu Josefa Iloilo, whom the military had retained as the nominal Head of State, formally abrogated the 1997 Constitution and re-appointed Bainimarama as (interim) Prime Minister. Later in 2009, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau succeeded Iloilo as President. After years of delays, a democratic election took place on 17 September 2014. Bainimarama's FijiFirst party won 59.2% of the vote, and international observers deemed the election credible.

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