Modern Fiji has been shaped into existence by numerous peoples drawn to its beautiful landscape, its hospitable climate, and its strategic location out in the Pacific Ocean over the course of centuries. As a result, if you are the sort of person with an appreciation for history, there is much to learn about this wonderful country.
History of Fiji Before European Contact
Much about the earliest periods of human settlement in Fiji still remains mysterious to us. It is believed that people of the Lapita culture were the first to arrive in the islands more than 3,000 years ago, having started in Southeast Asia before spreading from island to island in outrigger canoes. Eventually, they were followed first by Melanesians and then by Polynesians, with one prominent point of contact being the Tu'i Tonga Empire that had spread its influence throughout the region between the 13th and 15th centuries.
With that said, it is worth noting that the oral tradition of the indigenous Fijians claim that they are descended from Chief Lutunasobasoba and his companions, who had arrived in a canoe named Kaunitoni that had sailed out of their homeland towards the west. Having landed at what is now Vuda Point, they moved inland into the mountains, where they proceeded to become the ancestors of the indigenous Fijians.
History of Fiji After European Contact
With European contact in the 1830s came European weapons as well as other examples of European influence, which prompted a period of intensified war by breaking the existing balance of power. By the 1850s and the 1860s, a man named Seru Epenisa Cakobau had secured enough of the islands with European support to call himself King of Fiji, though he still faced significant opposition from a Tongan prince as well as local Fijian chiefs.
However, Cakobau came under serious pressure from the United States in 1858 to either pay compensation for a number of unfortunate events or weaken his right to rule by denying his responsibility for events happening outside of his area of control. This prompted more than a decade's search for someone that could provide him with a way out of his problem, starting with the British, moving onto the Polynesia Company in Australia, and then returning to the British. It was not until 1874 when Cakobau as well as a number of other Fijian chiefs ceded Fiji to the British, thus initiating 96 years of British rule.
From the Colonial Period to Independence
The British treated the indigenous Fijians better than some of their counterparts in other British colonies, though the same cannot be said of some of the other peoples that they brought onto the islands. For example, while the British had little interest in the indigenous Fijians as laborers, they had no compunctions about importing large numbers of indentured laborers from India for their plantations. After the Second World War, the British began moving Fiji towards self-rule, though this was complicated by tensions between Indo-Fijians and the indigneous Fijians. Said process culminated in 1970, which was the year when Fiji became a fully-indepedent country in its own right.
Of course, history never stops, not even in the beautiful country of Fiji. If you are interested in learning more about these islands as well as their history, please contact us at your earliest convenience.