Fiji, officially known as the Republic of Fiji, is an island nation in the South Pacific Ocean in Melanesia, which is part of Oceania. It is roughly 1,100 nautical miles (2,000 kilometers) away; 1,300 miles (or more) to the north-east of New Zealand. Fiji is an archipelago of more than 330 islands and more than 500 islets with a total land area of approximately 18,300 square kilometers (7,100 square miles). About 110 of the islands are permanently inhabited. Ono-i-Lau is the group of islands with the most separation. Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, the two largest islands, are home to 87% of the total population of 924,610. On Viti Levu's coasts, approximately three quarters of Fijians reside: either in Suva, the nation's capital; or in smaller urban centers like Nadi, where tourism accounts for the majority of the local economy; or in Lautoka, which is dominated by the sugarcane industry. Due to its terrain, Viti Levu's interior is sparsely populated.
Volcanic activity began approximately 150 million years ago, and it is responsible for the formation of the majority of Fiji's islands. On the islands of Vanua Levu and Taveuni, there is still some geothermal activity. Viti Levu's geothermal systems are non-volcanic and produce low-temperature surface discharges (approximately 35 to 60 degrees Celsius, or 95 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit).
Since the second millennium BCE, Austronesians, Melanesians, and Polynesian settlers have inhabited Fiji. Fiji saw its first European visitors in the 17th century. The British established the Colony of Fiji in 1874, after a brief period of independence for Fiji. Until 1970, when it gained independence and became known as the Dominion of Fiji, Fiji was a Crown colony. The military government that had taken power declared it a republic in 1987 after a string of coups d'état. Commodore Frank Bainimarama took power in a coup in 2006. The Fijian High Court decided in 2009 that the military leadership was illegal. Bainimarama was reappointed as interim prime minister after President Ratu Josefa Iloilo, whom the military had retained as the nominal head of state, formally overturned the 1997 Constitution. Ratu Epeli Nailatikau took over for Iloilo as president later in 2009. After years of delays, a democratic election took place on September 17, 2014. International observers deemed the election credible after Bainimarama's FijiFirst party received 59.2 percent of the vote.