The Pacific: Beyond bikinis and balaclavas

Teenage fighters roam the streets with guns ransacked from local armouries in a scene that could fit anywhere in the failing African states of Somalia, Sierra Leone or Liberia. But this is not Africa, it’s the Solomon Islands in the Pacific – a region meant to be as peaceful as its name suggests. In Australia and New Zealand this new look is prompting a major review of policies. The popular tendency to see the area in terms of bikinis or balaclavas – a tourist destination or, increasingly, a centre of strife – falls very short of the new reality.

The World Today
6 minute READ

David Shearer

As the Solomons sit on the cusp of fragmenting into island fiefdoms and even bloodier violence, an interim government takes over in Fiji. Almost entirely composed of indigenous Fijians, as opposed to Fijian Indians who make up forty–four percent of the population, it is finally exerting control after George Speight, a failed businessman, held the democratically elected government hostage for nearly two months in its own parliament. The pre–coup advertising slogan aimed at attracting Australasian tourists, ‘Fiji, the way the world should be’, now looks like a sick joke.

Subscribe to read all issues

Articles from the current issue are free to read by all, the archive is exclusive to magazine subscribers and our members. Subscribe or become a member to view articles from the archive.