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Program commenced: 1967
Total number of placements: 222 (as of 20 July, 2011)
Number of current placements: 5 (as of 20 July, 2011)
AVI Programs: Volunteer Program, Volunteer Graduate Program, United Nations Volunteer Program, PACTAF, PACTAM, M2006 Games Sport Development Volunteers
Fiji is a former British colony, independent since 1970. Fiji is currently under military rule and has a history of political turmoil, with four coups since independence.
This South Pacific nation is majority Indigenous Fijian of Melanesian and Polynesian ancestry, with a large Indo-Fijian population brought in by the British.
Fiji is rich in natural resources, but infrastructure is lacking and the formerly strong tourist trade has suffered since the 2006 coup.
Contact our Fiji & Kiribati office.
Economically, Fiji is the most developed of the Pacific Island economies, able to draw on natural resources, manufacturing, tourism and the subsistence economy to drive economic activity. By global standards, however, the economy is fragile - vulnerable to natural disasters, isolation from major markets, issues associated with land management, political instability and an antiquated infrastructure.
A growing number of people in Fiji are finding themselves in poverty, with over 25 per cent of the population living below the poverty line. This figure is even greater in rural areas. Within Fijian society both women and youth face additional hurdles. Women are less likely to receive tertiary education, gain access to better jobs or be promoted. Youth unemployment, urban drift and homelessness are also increasing in Fiji.
Fiji also faces problems of governance and racial tension. While land continues to hold strong social, cultural and spiritual significance for indigenous communities, economic imperatives have exacerbated sensitivities over access to land.
For up-to-date information and statistics on socio-economic development issues in Fiji, please refer to the following sources:
UNDP Fiji Multi-country Office website
UNDP Human Development fact sheet
US Department of State Fiji profile
The government of Fiji has been able to create a health service network that ensures access to a nurse or doctor within one hour walk or travel to most Fijians. However, the quality of services varies significantly, and the health centres are concentrated in urban areas.
Significant gains have been made in reducing infant mortality, however incidence of respiratory infections and diarrhoeal disease remains significant. Anaemia is a major public health problem.
Incidence and impact of non-communicable diseases are increasing; now the cause of 50 per cent of deaths in adults. These include heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Key influences are smoking, alcohol, increasing urbanisation and increasing reliance on imported food.
As with many developing countries, Fiji faces the key challenge of combating the pollution caused by increased urbanisation and industrial growth. Increased strain on waste facilities and poor industrial practice are of particular concern due to the fact that it can lead to contamination of the island's limited water sources.
Pressure on agricultural land has also led to increasing erosion. The erosion in turn leads to increased land degradation, which threatens the livelihoods of many farmers in the future and may lead to food shortages in the long term.
A further environmental issue facing Fiji concerns energy. Given the large number of islands and the large rural population much of the population is without an affordable sustainable energy supply. Consequently, 48 per cent of the population use solid fuels (such as wood) for energy. This increases carbon dioxide emissions (although Fiji's total emissions have dropped significantly over the past 10 years) as well as deforestation.