09 October 2020
Fijian Independence 50th Anniversary
50 YEARS OF FIJIAN INDEPENDENCE – 38c(P0909)
Sold by: Post Fiji Pte Limited
Category: Philately Stamps
Release Date: 29 Sep 2020
Other Info: NEW RELEASE – 50 YEARS OF FIJIAN INDEPENDENCE
The Republic of Fiji 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. Fiji consists of an archipelago of more than 330 islands — of which about 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). Eighty-seven percent of the total population of 883,483 live on the two major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. About three-quarters of Fijians live on Viti Levu’s coasts, either in the capital city of Suva or in smaller urban centres such as Nadi — where tourism is the major local industry — or Lautoka, where the sugar-cane industry is paramount. Because of its terrain, the interior of Viti Levu is sparsely inhabited.
The majority of Fiji’s islands formed through volcanic activity starting around 150 million years ago. Some geothermal activity still occurs today on the islands of Vanua Levu and Taveuni. The geothermal systems on Viti Levu are non-volcanic in origin, with low-temperature (c. 35–60 degrees Celsius) surface discharges.
Humans have lived in Fiji since the second millennium BC—first Austronesians and later Melanesians, with some Polynesian influences. Europeans first visited Fiji in 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.
A constitutional conference was held in London in July 1965 to discuss constitutional changes with a view to introducing responsible government. Indo-Fijians, led by A. D. Patel, demanded the immediate introduction of full self-government, with a fully elected legislature, to be elected by universal suffrage on a common voters’ roll. These demands were vigorously rejected by the ethnic Fijian delegation, who still feared loss of control over natively owned land and resources should an Indo-Fijian dominated government come to power. The British made it clear, however, that they were determined to bring Fiji to self-government and eventual independence. Realizing that they had no choice, Fiji’s chiefs decided to negotiate for the best deal they could get.
A series of compromises led to the establishment of a cabinet system of government in 1967, with Ratu Kamisese Mara as the first Chief Minister. Ongoing negotiations between Mara and Sidiq Koya, who had taken over the leadership of the mainly Indo-Fijian National Federation Party on Patel’s death in 1969, led to a second constitutional conference in London, in April 1970, at which Fiji’s Legislative Council agreed on a compromise electoral formula and a timetable for independence as a fully sovereign and independent nation within the Commonwealth. With this compromise, Fiji became independent on 10 October 1970 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.
Fiji has one of the most developed economies in the Pacific through its abundant forest, mineral, and fish resources. The currency is the Fijian dollar, with the main sources of foreign exchange being the tourist industry, remittances from Fijians working abroad, bottled water exports, and sugar cane. The Ministry of Local Government and Urban Development supervises Fiji’s local government, which takes the form of city and town councils.