History of Fiji
Fiji is steeped in history which stems back over 3000 years. The group of islands known as the Fiji Islands comprises of around 320 Islands and 522 islets. Approximately 105 of the islands are inhabited. It has a total land mass of 18,376 km2, and an ocean area of 710,000 km2, about the same size as Texas, or a little smaller than New South Wales, Australia.
Fiji was first populated by the Lapita people around 3000 years ago. The Lapitians were a distinct cultural group that are thought to have originated in South East Asia, moved through the Malaya Peninsular before populating the South Pacific including the Eastern Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa.
Abel Tasman stumbled across the Islands in 1643 while still searching for the great southern super continent. Captain Cook passed through for the first time in 1774 before making several more visits. The first Europeans to settle in the islands began to arrive in the early 19th century. They were often shipwrecked sailors or escaped convicts from Australia.
In the mid 19th century the missionaries began to arrive and the face of Fiji would change forever. Christianity was soon adopted by many and the terrifying practice of cannibalism came to a halt in the Fiji islands.
In the late 1800’s indentured labour from India was bought to the islands to assist in the development of the sugar cane industry. While the farm workers had the choice of returning to India at the end of their contract, many chose to stay on, and who can blame them for that! Today Indians make up around 44% of Fiji’s 880,000 inhabitants.