|Republic of the Fiji Islands
Matanitu Tu-Vaka-i-koya ko Viti
|Motto: Fear God and honour the King|
|Anthem: God Bless Fiji
(and largest city)
|Official languages||English, Bau Fijian, and Hindi|
|Demonym||Fiji Islander, Fijian|
|Government||Military junta & Parliamentary Republic|
|-||Paramount Chief of Fiji||King Andrew|
|-||Prime Minister||Frank Bainimarama|
|-||GCC Chairman||Ratu Epeli Nailatikau|
|Independence||from the United Kingdom|
|-||Date||10 October 1970|
|-||Total|| 18,274 km2
7,056 sq mi
Fiji (Fijian: Matanitu ko Viti; Fijian Hindustani: फ़िजी), officially the Republic of the Fiji Islands (Fijian: Matanitu Tu-Vaka-i-koya ko Viti; Fijian Hindustani: फ़िजी द्वीप समूह गणराज्य, fiji dvip samooh ganarajya), is an island nation in the South Pacific Ocean east of Vanuatu, west of Tonga and south of Tuvalu. The country comprises an archipelago of about 322 islands, of which 106 are permanently inhabited, and 522 islets. The two major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, account for most of the population.
Pottery excavated from Fijian towns shows that Fiji was settled before or around 3500–1000 BC, although the question of Pacific migration still lingers. It is believed that the Lapita people or the ancestors of the Polynesians settled the islands first but not much is known of what became of them after the Melanesians arrived; they may have had some influence on the new culture, and archaeological evidence shows that they would have then moved on to Tonga, Samoa and Hawai'i.
The first settlements in Fiji were started by voyaging traders and settlers from the west about 3500 years ago. Lapita pottery shards have been found at numerous excavations around the country. Aspects of Fijian culture are similar to Melanesian culture to the western Pacific but have stronger connection to the older Polynesian cultures such as those of Samoa and Tonga. Trade between these three nations long before European contact is quite obvious with Canoes made from native Fijian trees found in Tonga and Tongan words being part of the language of the Lau group of islands. Pots made in Fiji have been found in Samoa and even the Marquesas Islands. Across 1000 km from east to west, Fiji has been a nation of many languages. Fiji's history was one of settlement but also of mobility. Over the centuries, a unique Fijian culture developed. Constant warfare and cannibalism between warring tribes was quite rampant and very much part of everyday life. The ferocity of the cannibal lifestyle deterred European sailors from going near Fijian waters, giving Fiji the name Cannibal Isles, in turn Fiji was unknown to the rest of the outside world.
The Dutch explorer Abel Tasman visited Fiji in 1643 while looking for the Great Southern Continent. Europeans settled on the islands permanently beginning in the nineteenth century. The first European settlers to Fiji were Beachcombers, missionaries, whalers and those engaged in the then booming sandalwood and bêche-de-mer trade.
Ratu Seru Epenisa Cakobau was a Fijian chief and warlord from the island of Bau, off the eastern coast of Viti Levu, who united part of Fiji's warring tribes under his leadership. He then styled himself as King of Fiji or Tui Viti and then to Vunivalu or Protector after the Cession of Fiji to Great Britain. The British subjugated the islands as a colony in 1874, and the British brought over Indian contract labourers to work on the sugar plantations as the then Governor and also the first governor of Fiji, Arthur Charles Hamilton-Gordon, adopted a policy disallowing the use of native labour and no interference in their culture and way of life. In 1875-76, measles epidemic killed over 40,000 Fijians, about one-third of the Fijian population. The population in 1942 was approximately 210,000 of whom 94,000 were Indians, 102,000 native Fijians, 2000 Chinese and 5000 Europeans.
In 1970, Fiji was granted Independence by Great Britain.
Fiji was extremely fortunate to have avoided nuclear strikes on Doomsday, 26 September 1983. Despite this, Fiji soon fell into a state of civil unrest. Before Doomsday, the government was by no means stable as they had already gone through one military coup. More to come...
Rugby is played in Fiji and the nation often plays with Tonga in the Six Nations competition. Fiji is one of the few nations in the world that play Australian rules football. Fiji is also a member of the International Rugby Board and FIFA.
Fiji has a state-owned television service that broadcasts in the evenings and two state-owned radio stations that broadcast 24 hours a day, seven days a week.