Although less than a third of Fiji's land can be cultivated, agriculture is the country's largest economic sector and employs half the workforce. During the 19th century, sugar cane dominated Fiji's economy, and it is still the largest export. A quarter of Fiji's labour force -mostly Fijian Indians- is involved in growing and processing sugar cane. Fijian farmers also grow coconuts, cocoa, ginger, bananas and vanilla for export. For local sale, they grow fruits and vegetables, cassava, rice, and yaqona (a pepper plant that provides the people of Fiji with their favourite drink, kava). Many indigenous Fijians grow food for their families and have a small cash crop, such as coconuts, as well.

 Fishing is a growing export industry. Fiji exports thousands of tonnes of canned tuna to Canada and Britain, and chilled yellowfin tuna to Hawaii and Japan. Forestry is also becoming more important. Fiji has large stands of mahogany and pine. However, the government has banned the export of logs from certain trees to protect indigenous Fijian hardwoods. Gold mines in Viti Levu and Vanua Levu produce another valuable export.

Fiji imports more than it exports every year, so the government is trying to encourage new industries. Garment factories employing thousands of workers produce clothing for North American markets. Tourism employs about 40,000 people, mostly indigenous Fijians. Political unrest, however, has harmed the tourist industry.

 Women in Fiji are a growing part of the labour force. In the villages, women still perform the traditional jobs that sustain the community. As well as cooking, washing and caring for their families, they garden and fish to provide food for their families and create handicrafts - such as baskets, pottery and bark cloth-that the family can use or sell. In cities, many women work outside the home. Some train to be nurses or teachers, while others work in the garment industry.

  Did you know?
For business, many indigenous Fijian men combine traditional and Western-style clothing. They wear a jacket, shirt, and tie over a dark grey sulu (a wraparound skirt worn by both men and women).
  Did you know?
Ecowoman is a conservation project that brings indigenous Fijian women together with professional women in the fields of science and technology to share knowledge and discuss ways to improve the economy without damaging the environment.