History of FijiFiji



Melanesian and Polynesian peoples settled the Fijian islands some 3,500 years ago. European traders and missionaries arrived in the first half of the 19th century, and the resulting disruption led to increasingly serious wars among the native Fijian confederacies. One Ratu (chief), Cakobau, gained limited control over the western islands by the 1850s, but the continuing unrest led a convention of chiefs to cede Fiji unconditionally to the British in 1874. The pattern of colonialism in Fiji during the following century was similar to that in other British possessions: the pacification of the countryside, the spread of plantation agriculture, and the introduction of Indian indentured labor. Many traditional institutions, including the system of communal land ownership, were maintained.

Fiji soldiers fought alongside the Allies in the Second World War, gaining a fine reputation in the tough Solomon Islands campaign. The United States and other allied countries maintained military installations in Fiji during the war, but Fiji itself never came under attack. In April 1970, a constitutional conference in London agreed that Fiji should become a fully sovereign and independent nation within the Commonwealth. Fiji became independent on October 10, 1970.

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