Factbox-Political uncertainty in Fiji after disputed election

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By Lewis Jackson

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Fiji's military will help police maintain law and order, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said on Thursday, citing growing concerns of ethnic tension as his Fiji First party and an opposition coalition dispute the result of an election last week.

Following are some facts about Fiji:

* Home to 900,000, the Pacific island nation is spread across 330 islands, one-third of which are uninhabited. The capital, Suva, is in the southeast of the largest island, Viti Levu, about 3,000 km east of Australia, and is home to parliament and other government offices.

* Settled by Melanesians more than 3,000 years ago, Fiji became a British colony in the late 19th century. Authorities encouraged migration of indentured Indians to work sugar plantations. Ethnic Indians make up just over a third of the population, according to a 2007 census, with indigenous Fijians accounting for 60%.

* Since independence in 1970, ethnic divisions have haunted politics. The first of four coups was in 1987 after elections brought to power a group dominated by ethnic Indian Fijians. Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has been in power since a 2006 coup.

* An upper-middle-income country, Fiji is increasingly dependent on tourism as its sugar industry wanes. The economy grew at or above 3% for six of the 10 years up the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic thanks to government investment, tax cuts and tourism.

* Fiji has been battered by a series of tropical cyclones in recent years and has been increasingly vocal in its calls for action on climate change.

* Fiji joined U.S. President Joe Biden's Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) this year, making it the first Pacific Island country in the plan that is part of a U.S. effort to stand up to China's growing influence in the region.

(Reporting by Lewis Jackson; Editing by Robert Birsel)