GLOBAL AND REGIONAL INKS
Fiji is playing an increasing role on the international stage. In a first for the Pacific, a Fijian diplomat (Peter Thomson) is now chairing the UN General Assembly.
It has strong ties to India and is a central part of China's plan for a "maritime Silk Road" in the Pacific.
Most significantly, Fiji has been a global leader for firm climate change targets and on financial inclusion – bringing more people into the formal economy. Fiji will be president of the next global UN climate conference (COP23) which will be held in Germany in 2017.
The Prime Minister has formally invited American president-elect Donald Trump to see the effects of climate change first hand.
Within the region, Australia and New Zealand are seen as the big brothers in the neighbourhood, often helpful but sometimes overbearing. The Aussies are perhaps seen as being brash Americans while the Kiwis are more akin to the more sedate Canadians.
Both Australia and New Zealand pushed for sanctions against Fiji after the 2006 coup, which led to the peculiar situation of the headquarters of the Pacific Islands Forum being in Suva but Fiji being excluded from its meetings.
Fiji is now back in the forum fold and Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, argued successfully for a lifting of Australian sanctions in 2014.
Prime Minister Bainimarama, 62, recently took over the foreign affairs portfolio, setting up an intriguing interplay with Australia and New Zealand over the next few years.
His forty-something Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, is also the Minister for Justice, Finance, Public Enterprises and the Public Service, and periodically fills in as acting PM.
In a little-reported speech in October at Liverpool in western Sydney, Bainimarama said Fiji was moving beyond the "lost years" of arguing who "deserved more" based on ethnic or religious background or place of origin.
"With our new-found unity and an education revolution that is opening up paths of learning for even the most disadvantaged Fijian, we have embarked on an ambitious program," he said.
"That is to steadily transform ourselves from a developing country into a modern nation state."