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Fiji History


  • Church in Lautoka with clouds in the sky

Fijian mythology states that the great chief Lutunasobasoba led his people across the sea to the islands of Fiji. History suggests that Fijians most likely arrived over 3,000 years ago from South East Asia. These people were conquered by the Melanesians in 1500BC and uniquely, the two cultures mixed together to form an incredibly developed society long before contact with Europeans.

The first European to arrive in Fiji was Dutchman Abel Tasman in 1643. The second explorer to arrive was British Captain James Cook in 1774. Despite these early arrivals, historians credit the discovery of Fiji to Captain William Bligh. He sailed through Fiji and charted it in 1789 after the famous mutiny on the Bounty.

As time passed, more Europeans began to live and settle in Fiji. Many of these earlier settlers were escaped prisoners from the penal colony in Australia as well as shipwrecked sailors. Mid-century saw the arrival of Christian missionaries that would go on to have a profound influence on Fijian culture. Western-styled clothing was introduced and houses were built. As Christianity spread, it helped to end a great deal of the tribal warfare that was happening on the islands.

In 1874, Fiji was ceded to Great Britain. This was followed by more European settlers who brought deadly epidemics that nearly killed much of the indigenous population. In an attempt to preserve the culture of those Fijians who remained, the first governor under British rule, Sir Arthur Gordon, initiated a system that allowed Fijians to have a say in government. He also forbade the sale of Fijian land to non-Fijians. Gradually, the population began to rise again.

Gordon implemented a plantation system to help Fiji grow economically and in 1879, servants began to arrive from India to work the plantations. Around 60,000 indentured servants travelled to Fiji from India before the indentured system finally ended in 1916. Despite being offered passage back to India, many people chose to stay and became businessmen and farmers; their descendants currently make up around 44% of the population today.

The 20th century saw great economic and political change in Fiji. From 1880 to 1960, Fiji was a racially divided nation with Fijians, Indians and Europeans all vying to elect their own representatives to government. There was a desire for independence which was finally granted in 1974. Despite becoming independent, racial tensions were still high and it wasn’t until 1990 that a constitution was put in place that recognised all people in Fiji. The constitution was amended in 1997 and placed more importance on the rights of non-ethnic Fijians.

Despite a history of political turmoil, Fiji remains incredibly popular with tourists thanks to its beautiful landscape and wonderful and friendly people. It is now recognised by many as the focal point of the South Pacific.

 


 

Fiji Travel Information

At Goway we believe that a well-informed traveller is a safer traveller. With this in mind, we have compiled an easy to navigate travel information section dedicated to Fiji. 

Learn about the history and culture of Fiji, the must-try food and drink, and what to pack in your suitcase. Read about Fiji's nature and wildlife, weather and geography, along with 'Country Quickfacts' compiled by our travel experts. Our globetrotting tips, as well as our visa and health information will help ensure you're properly prepared for a safe and enjoyable trip. The only way you could possibly learn more is by embarking on your journey and discovering Fiji for yourself. Start exploring...book one of our Fiji vacations today!

 

Extend Your Stay

Consider an additional stopover after or before your stay at one of our Fiji resorts or on your Fiji vacation at one of Goway's other South Pacific destinations. You can choose from our selection of Australian vacationsNew Zealand vacation packagesTahiti vacation packages or perhaps take a Cook Island vacation.

 


 

Book your Fiji vacation with Goway!

With a wide choice of Fiji vacations and experiences, Goway’s Downunder wizards can offer you many ways to explore, and enjoy the fabulous islands of Fiji. Relax while on a romantic tropical island stay, explore beautiful islands and lagoons on a cruise or sailing adventure, and much more. We want to be your first choice when next you go globetrotting to Fiji.


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