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The Groningen explorer Abel Tasman was probably the first European to observe the archipelago. In 1634, he sailed past Taveuni in search of the Southland that later turned out to be Australia. Captain Cook visited Lau.

The discovery of sandalwood attracted the first traders to Fiji. After all the forests were cleared, the foreigners turned to trading in "bêche-de-mer", a coral animal that was a delicacy in China. Europeans mingled with the local population and gave chief Cakobau such power that he was able to proclaim himself king of all Fiji.

The suppression of a Tongan-aided rebellion around 1855 placed Fiji in a subservient position to Tonga, which British intervention ended. However, Fiji did not become a British colony until 1874. The population was placed under indirect rule, which meant that the local chiefs retained their power. The British quickly took Fiji into the twentieth century, setting up large sugar cane plantations, among other things.

The necessary manpower came from the British East Indies. Between 1879 and 1916, 63,000 contract workers were recruited, more than half of whom stayed on the islands after their contracts ended. Unwittingly, the British created a social division. On the one hand, there were the well-to-do colonists, the powerful Australian businessmen and the Indians, who were growing in prosperity, and on the other, the Fijians, who were lagging behind in their development.

In 1970 Fiji became independent but remained part of the British Commonwealth. After a coup in 1987, Fiji became a republic and the name was changed from Dominion of Fiji to Republic of Fiji, Ganiilau became its first president. In 1992 Rabuka of the FPP became Prime Minister after a general election. In 1994, Ganilau died and Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara became president. At the turn of the century, Fiji was in a state of great unrest.

This continues into the first decade of the 21st century. In 2009, Fiji is expelled from the Commonwealth. Bainimarama suffers several military regimes. Australia and New Zealand restore diplomatic relations after Bainimarama says it will hold free elections in 2014. The elections are finally held in July 2015 and Bainimarama wins 32 of the 50 seats to be won. Since November 2015, Konrote has been president of Fiji. In February 2016, Fiji is hit hard by the heaviest storm in the Southern Hemisphere Cyclone Winston and Fiji is the first country to sign the Paris Climate Agreement. In November 2021, Williame Katonivere became the new President of Fiji.



Elmar landeninformatie

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated April 2024
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