The Republic of Fiji is an island nation with an estimated population of 918,757 people and an annual population growth of 0.7 percent. There are an estimated 330 islands, of which approximately one third are inhabited. The islands are characterized by diverse ecosystems, including significant areas of natural forest. Wide ranges of coastal and marine ecosystems exist, ranging from extensive areas of mangroves to various coral formations.
Fiji is composed of large mountainous islands, which are mostly of volcanic origin, such as Viti Levu and Vanua Levu (which take up 87 percent of the total land area), and numerous small volcanic islands, low-lying atolls and elevated reefs. The largest islands have a diverse range of terrestrial ecosystems, including extensive areas of indigenous forest. The high islands have distinct wet and dry sides due to prevailing wind patterns. Coastal ecosystems include mangroves, algae and sea-grass beds in shallow reef and lagoon areas, and various reef types such as barrier, fringing platform and atoll or patch reefs.
Fiji has a mild tropical climate with plentiful rain under prevailing conditions. It is, however, subject to potentially catastrophic climate events such as cyclones, flooding and multiple landslips that can have a major impact on the economy and infrastructure. The predicted climate change and sea level rise could have profound consequences for some urban centres, agriculture and coastal development.
Fiji has an exclusive economic zone of 1.26 million square kilometres. It has one of the largest economies among Pacific Island Countries (PICs) and is one of the PICs least dependent on foreign aid. Even though 70 percent of the Fijian workforce is in the agricultural sector, agriculture and industry together account for less than 25 percent of GDP. The rest comes from the service sector, mostly from tourism. Within the agricultural and industry sectors, sugar production and processing are by far the most important economic activities. Sugar processing makes up one-third of all industrial activity, and sugar is the country’s primary export product. Other agricultural products from the country include coconuts, tapioca, rice, sweet potatoes, and bananas, but these are primarily used for domestic consumption.