Palm studded beaches allure tourists year after year but behind the scenes lays a boiling magma of political instability. Fiji with its racial divides, land issues, political struggles between regions and between indigenous Fijians and Indians are key factors that lead to the 1987 and 2000 Coups. As a consequence many political changes have taken place affecting Fijian life and society, through its economy, social hierarchy, race relations, migration, globalization and the international pressure for a democratic working government. Fiji as with many pacific island neighbours was far from politically stable even prior to 1987. The origins of the 1987 and 2000 military coup have long standing political, historical, and cultural significance. Robertson and Sullivan also believe this to be the case for the 2000 Coup, led by Colonel George Speights.
Historically the key factors that led up to the coups go back to the time of the cession of authority to Britain in 1874 1. Although the colonial government maintained the status quo of native chiefly authority it changed and institutionalised hierachial powers 2. The government developed new concepts and practices in the economy, in particular, the importation of nearly 61,000 indentured labourers to work on sugar plantations 3. These Indian labourers brought with them their own religion, culture, attitude and class which differentiated greatly from the Fijian population. Most of the ethnic Indians which amounts to nearly half of Fiji's population, trace their ancestry to the indentured labourers brought from India between 1874 and 1920 by the British colonial authorities and the Australian-owned Colonial Sugar Refining Company to toil in the sugar cane plantations. This lead to a multiracial working class which emerged not only in the ˜sugar industry but in mines, factories, public service and waterfront' services 4. The colonisation of Fiji in 1874 also saw positions of authority taken