Political violence and state failure in Fiji. Between 1987 and 2006 Fiji experienced four coups in which governments were overthrown by their own military forces. Many observers attribute political violence in Fiji to ethnic tensions between indigenous ethnic Fijians and descendants of persons of Indian origin, who immigrated to Fiji mainly between 1880 and 1920. While ethnicity contributes to political instability in Fiji, the existence of additional cleavages based on class, kinship and centre-periphery dichotomy creates a rather complex picture. The coups are also offsprings of conflicts within the Fijian society, conflicts about the loss of political and economic power in the course of modernization, experienced by traditional chiefs of tribal confederacies, as well as conflicts caused by marginalization of indigenous people living in peripheral areas. External actors like Australia, New Zealand and the USA add another layer to the conflicts. During the socalled Cold War the Pacific islands were nuclear testing grounds for the USA, France and Great Britain as well as a strategic region for the US-American Pacific fleet. Since 9/11 the USA as well as Australia and New Zealand consider political instability in the Pacific island region as a breeding ground for international terrorism and thus a threat to their national security.

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