875,000 (2012); 53 per cent of people live in urban areas; growth 0.8 per cent p.a. 1990–2012; birth rate 21 per 1,000 people (34 in 1970); life expectancy 70 years (60 in 1970).
More than 50 per cent of the people are ethnic Fijians, who are of mixed Melanesian–Polynesian origin, and most of the rest are of Indian origin. There are small populations of Europeans, Banabans, Tuvaluans and Chinese.
The official language is English, but Fijian, of which there are more than 300 dialects, is widely spoken. A single dialect, Bauan, is used in the media. Hindi is the main language of the Indian population, although it is now distinct from that spoken in mainland India. English, Fijian and Hindi are all taught in schools and most of the population is at least bilingual.
Christians 65 per cent (Methodists 35 per cent, Roman Catholics nine per cent, Assembly of God six per cent, Seventh Day Adventists four per cent), Hindus 28 per cent, Muslims six per cent, small number of Sikhs (2007 census).
Public spending on health was three per cent of GDP in 2012. There is a comprehensive system providing universal health and dental services for nominal fees. There are 25 hospitals. The country is free of malaria. Some 96 per cent of the population uses an improved drinking water source and 87 per cent have access to adequate sanitation facilities (2012). Infant mortality was 20 per 1,000 live births in 2013 (71 in 1960).
Public spending on education was four per cent of GDP in 2011. There are ten years of compulsory education starting at the age of six. Primary school comprises six years and secondary seven, with cycles of four and three years. Some 91 per cent of pupils complete primary school (2008). The school year starts in January.
The main campuses of the regional University of the South Pacific (founded 1968) and the Fiji National University are located in Suva. The University of the South Pacific has further campuses in Fiji, at Labasa and Lautoka. The Fiji National University, formally established in 2010, was formed by the merger of seven tertiary institutions: the College of Advanced Education; College of Agriculture (Koronivia campus); Institute of Technology (Samabula campus, Suva); Lautoka Teachers College (Lautoka campus); School of Medicine (Suva); School of Nursing (Suva); and Training and Productivity Authority, and has many campuses across the country. The oldest of these institutions, the School of Medicine (established in 1885) and the School of Nursing (1893), were merged in 2010 to become the Fiji National University College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences.
Daily English-language newspapers are Daily Post (founded 1989), Fiji Sun and Fiji Times (1869), and there are a number of Fijian and Hindi weeklies.
Radio is a major source of information for most people, particularly on the outer islands. The Fiji Broadcasting Corporation provides national Fijian and Hindi services and there are a number of private radio stations. Fiji TV provides a national free-to-air channel and a pay-TV channel.
There are 60 personal computers per 1,000 people (2005).
Country code 679; internet domain ‘.fj’. Mobile phone coverage in the outer islands is patchy. There are internet cafés in Suva, Nadi, Lautoka and most resorts.
For every 1,000 people there are 85 landlines, 1,011 mobile phone subscriptions and 371 internet users (2013).
New Year’s Day, National Youth Day (Friday in March), Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna Day (late May), Queen’s Official Birthday (Monday in June), Fiji Day (Monday around 10 October), Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Religious and other festivals whose dates vary from year to year include Prophet’s Birthday, Good Friday, Easter Monday and Diwali (October/November).