Last Updated: Monday, 30 November 2015, 08:01 GMT

World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples - Fiji Islands : Indo-Fijians

Publisher Minority Rights Group International
Publication Date 2008
Cite as Minority Rights Group International, World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples - Fiji Islands : Indo-Fijians, 2008, available at: [accessed 30 November 2015]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


At the 1986 Census the ethnic Fijian population was 329,000 (46% of the total) and the Indo-Fijian population was 348,000 (48%), maintaining the numerical dominance of the Indo-Fijian population that was established after the Second World War. However, by 1996, after extensive emigration, the Indo-Fijian population had fallen absolutely and was just 38 per cent of the total whereas the Fijian population had grown to 45 per cent. The 2000 and 2006 coups have seen ongoing emigration of skilled trades and professional personnel, most of whom are Indo-Fijian, to Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.

Historical context

Indians were first introduced to Fiji in the 1880s, and between 1879 and 1916 over 60,000 indentured labourers came from various parts of India to work in the cane plantations. Many other Pacific islanders came at the same time, but most returned. The Indian migrants remained.

Current issues

Indo-Fijians are marginalized in most spheres, though they have regained substantial economic power, while the more prominent Fijian nationalist movements have lost some influence. Nonetheless the position of Indo-Fijians in Fiji remains problematic.

Indo-Fijians remain in many respects marginal to the national political economy despite their relative success in business and trade. Critically, they remain landless and leases continue to be allowed to expire. Despite business success, they have been unable to achieve a similar status in the bureaucracy. In 2006, though Indo-Fijians made up 40 per cent of the national population they only represented 20-30 per cent of the civil service, a situation that was unconstitutional.

There have been attacks on Indo-Fijians and in 2005-6 there was a spate of robberies and desecrations at Hindu temples. Indo-Fijians have called for vigilante groups to fight back.

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