Fiji Basic Facts - History

Fiji Basic Facts - History

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Population (2006) ...........................905,949
GDP per capita 2006 (Purchasing Power Parity, US$)...........6,100
GDP 2006 (Purchasing Power Parity, US$ billions)................ 5.5
Unemployment.....................................................................7.6%

Average annual growth 1991-97
Population (%) ....... 1.5
Labor force (%) ....... 3.3

Total Area...................................................................7078 sq. mi.
Urban population (% of total population) ............................... 41
Life expectancy at birth (years)..................................................... 73
Infant mortality (per 1,000 live births)........................................ 8
Access to safe water (% of population) ..................................... 90
Illiteracy (% of population age 15+) ............................................. 8


Fiji Basic Facts - History

President: Jioji Konrote (2015)

Prime Minister: Frank Bainimarama (2007)

Total area: 7,054 sq mi (18,270 sq km)

Population (2014 est.): 903,207 (growth rate: .7%) birth rate: 1986/1000 infant mortality rate: 10.2/1000 life expectancy: 72.15

Monetary unit: Fiji dollar

Languages: English (official), Fijian (official), Hindustani

Ethnicity/race: iTaukei 56.8% (predominantly Melanesian with a Polynesian admixture), Indian 37.5%, Rotuman 1.2%, other 4.5% (European, part European, other Pacific Islanders, Chinese)
note: a 2010 law replaces 'Fijian' with 'iTuakei' when referring to the original and native settlers of Fiji (2007 est.)

Religions: Protestant 45% (Methodist 34.6%, Assembly of God 5.7%, Seventh Day Adventist 3.9%, and Anglican 0.8%), Hindu 27.9%, other Christian 10.4%, Roman Catholic 9.1%, Muslim 6.3%, Sikh 0.3%, other 0.3%, none 0.8% (2007 est.)

National Holiday: Independence Day, 2nd Monday of October

Literacy rate: 93.7% (2003 est.)

Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2013 est.): $4.45 billion per capita $4,900. Real growth rate: 3%. Inflation: 3%. Unemployment: 7.6%. Arable land: 9.17%. Agriculture: sugarcane, coconuts, cassava (tapioca), rice, sweet potatoes, bananas cattle, pigs, horses, goats fish. Labor force: 335,000 agriculture 70%, industry and services 30%. Industries: tourism, sugar, clothing, copra, gold, silver, lumber, small cottage industries. Natural resources: timber, fish, gold, copper, offshore oil potential, hydropower. Exports: $1.026 billion (2013): sugar, garments, gold, timber, fish, molasses, coconut oil. Imports: $2.054 billion (2012): manufactured goods, machinery and transport equipment, petroleum products, food, chemicals. Major trading partners: U.S., Australia, UK, Samoa, Japan, China, Tonga, New Zealand, Singapore.

Communications: Telephones: main lines in use: 88,400 (2012) mobile cellular: 858,800. Broadcast media: Fiji TV, a publicly traded company, operates a free-to-air channel as well as Sky Fiji and Sky Pacific multi-channel pay-TV services state-owned commercial company, Fiji Broadcasting Corporation, Ltd, operates 6 radio stations - 2 public broadcasters and 4 commercial broadcasters with multiple repeaters 5 radio stations with repeaters operated by Communications Fiji, Ltd transmissions of multiple international broadcasters are available (2009). Internet hosts: 21,739 (2012). Internet users: 114,200 (2009).

Transportation: Railways: total: 597 km note: belongs to the government-owned Fiji Sugar (2008). Highways: total: 3,440 km paved: 1,692 km unpaved: 1,748 km (2011 est.). Waterways: 203 km 122 km navigable by motorized craft and 200-metric-ton barges (2012). Ports and harbors: Lambasa, Lautoka, Suva. Airports: 28 (2013).

International disputes: none.


Fiji's History

Fiji was first settled about 3,500 years ago by Melanesian and Polynesian settlers. Europeans did not arrive on the islands until the 19th century but upon their arrival, many wars broke out between the various native groups on the islands. After one such war in 1874, a Fijian tribal chief named Cakobau ceded the islands to the British, which officially began British colonialism in Fiji.

Under British colonialism, Fiji experienced the growth of plantation agriculture. Native Fijian traditions were also for the most part maintained. During World War II, soldiers from Fiji joined the British and the Allies in battles at the Solomon Islands.
On October 10, 1970, Fiji officially became independent. Following its independence, there were hostilities around how Fiji would be governed and in 1987, a military coup took place to prevent an Indian-led political party from taking power. Shortly thereafter, there were ethnic hostilities in the country and stability was not retained until the 1990s.

In 1998, Fiji adopted a new constitution that specified that its government would be run by a multiracial cabinet. The following year, Mahendra Chaudhry, Fiji's first Indian prime minister, took office. Ethnic hostilities continued, however, and in 2000 armed soldiers staged another governmental coup which eventually caused an election in 2001. In September of that year, Laisenia Qarase was sworn as prime minister with a cabinet of ethnic Fijians.

In 2003, however, Qarase's government was declared unconstitutional and there was an attempt to once again install a multiethnic cabinet. In December 2006, Qarase was removed from office and Jona Senilagakali was appointed as the interim prime minister. In 2007, Frank Bainimarama became prime minister after Senilagakali resigned and he brought more military power into Fiji and refused democratic elections in 2009.

In September 2009, Fiji was removed from the Commonwealth of Nations because this act failed to put the country on track to forming a democracy.


Overview


According to Fijian legend, the great chief Lutunasobasoba led his people across the seas to the new land of Fiji . Most authorities agree that people came into the Pacific from Southeast Asia via Indonesia. Here the Melanesians and the Polynesians mixed to create a highly developed society long before the arrival of the Europeans.

The European discoveries of the Fiji group were accidental. The first of these discoveries was made in 1643 by the Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman and English navigators, including Captain James Cook who sailed through in 1774, and made further explorations in the 18th century.

Major credit for the discovery and recording of the islands went to Captain William Bligh who sailed through Fiji after the mutiny on the Bounty in 1789. The first Europeans to land and live among the Fijians were shipwrecked sailors and runaway convicts from the Australian penal settlements. Sandalwood traders and missionaries
came by the mid 19th century.

Cannibalism practiced in Fiji at that time quickly disappeared as missionaries gained influence. When Ratu Seru Cakobau accepted Christianity in 1854, the rest of the country soon followed and tribal warfare came to an end.

From 1879 to 1916 Indians came as indentured laborers to work on the sugar plantations. After the indentured system was abolished, many stayed on as independent farmers and businessmen. Today they comprise 44 percent of the population.

Culture

Fiji was first settled about three and a half thousand years ago. The original inhabitants are now called “Lapita people” after a distinctive type of fine pottery they produced, remnants of which have been found in practically all the islands of the Pacific east of New Guinea, though not in eastern Polynesia. Linguistic evidence suggests that
they came from northern or central Vanuatu, or possibly the eastern Solomons.

Before long they had moved further on, colonizing Rotuma to the north, and Tonga and Samoa to the east. From there, vast distances were crossed to complete the settlement of the Pacific, to Hawaii in the north, Rapanui [Easter Island] in the east and Rotearoa [New Zealand] in the south.

Unlike the islands of Polynesia which showed a continuous steadily evolving culture from initial occupation, Fiji appears to have undergone at least two periods of rapid cultural change in pre-historical times. This may have been due to the arrival of fresh waves of immigrants, presumably from the west.

Pre-historians have noted that a massive 12th century volcanic eruption in southern Vanuatu coincides with the disappearance there of a certain pottery style, and its sudden emergence in Fiji.


It is hardly surprising then, that the Fijian culture is an intricate network and that generalizations are fraught with danger. Although the legendary king of Bau, Naulivou and his successors had control over a large area of eastern Fiji, at no time before colonization was Fiji a political unity. Nevertheless, Fiji does exhibit certain traits that sets it apart from its neighbors, and it is this that defines a distinctive Fijian culture.

Fijians first impressed themselves on European consciousness through the writings of members of the expeditions of Cook who met them in Tonga. They were described as formidable warriors and ferocious cannibals, builders of the finest vessels in the Pacific, but not great sailors.

They inspired awe among the Tongans, and all their products, especially bark-cloth and clubs, were highly esteemed and much in demand. They called their home Viti, but the Tongans called it Fiji, and it is by this foreign pronunciation, first promulgated by Cook, that these islands are now known.

After the explorers, other Europeans followed. For over half a century, Fijian culture enjoyed what has been called its ‘golden age’, as tools and weapons brought by traders were turned by resourceful chiefs to their own advantage.

Canoes and houses were built, confederations formed and wars fought on a grand scale without precedent. Gradually and inevitably however, the Fijian way of life was changing. As Christianity spread in the islands, wars ceased abruptly and western clothing was adopted.

After Fiji was ceded to Great Britain in 1874 epidemics nearly wiped out the population and it seemed as if the natives were doomed. But the colonial government took the Fijians’ side.

Land sales were forbidden, health campaigns implemented and the population picked up again. Theirs was not, of course, the culture of the heathen ‘golden age’, but one modified by the new religion and increasingly the new economic order. Yet in today’s Fiji, independent since 1970, a surprising amount has survived.

20th Century

The 20th century brought about important economic changes in Fiji as well as the maturation of its political system. Fiji developed a major sugar industry and established productive copra milling, tourism and secondary industries.

As the country now diversifies into small scale industries, the economy is strengthened and revenues provide for expanded public works, medical services and education.

The country’s central position in the region has been strengthened by recent developments in sea and air communications. Today, Fiji plays a major role in regional affairs and is recognized as the focal point of the South Pacific.


How did cannibalism end?

Christian missionaries began arriving in the Pacific from the 1830s. Many were horrified to witness acts of cannibalism and some recorded eye-witness accounts. As Christianity spread, Fijians began to turn away from the practice and to worship the Christian god, rather than the Fijian ones.

The last known act of cannibalism occurred in 1867. Methodist missionary Reverend Thomas Baker, along with six Fijian student teachers, was murdered and eaten in central Viti Levu, the largest Fijian island. It is thought their killings were mandated by a chief who resisted the spread of Christianity and conversion from the old Fijian religion. Reverend Baker is understood to be the only missionary or white man who was ever eaten.

The remains of Reverend Baker’s boots are held at the Fiji Museum in Suva.


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Contents

The name of Fiji's main island, Viti Levu, served as the origin of the name "Fiji", though the common English pronunciation is based on that of Fiji's island neighbours in Tonga. An official account of the emergence of the name states:

Fijians first impressed themselves on European consciousness through the writings of the members of the expeditions of Cook who met them in Tonga. They were described as formidable warriors and ferocious cannibals, builders of the finest vessels in the Pacific, but not great sailors. They inspired awe amongst the Tongans, and all their Manufactures, especially bark cloth and clubs, were highly valued and much in demand. They called their home Viti, but the Tongans called it Fisi, and it was by this foreign pronunciation, Fiji, first promulgated by Captain James Cook, that these islands are now known. [21]

"Feejee", the Anglicised spelling of the Tongan pronunciation, [22] occurred in accounts and other writings by missionaries and other travellers visiting Fiji until the late-19th century. [23] [24]

Early settlement Edit

Pottery art from Fijian towns shows that Fiji was settled by Austronesian peoples by at least 3500 to 1000 BC, with Melanesians following around a thousand years later, although there are still many open questions about the specific dates and patterns of human migration into Fiji and many other Pacific islands. It is believed that either 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 the old culture may have had some influence on the new one, and archaeological evidence shows that some of the migrants moved on to Samoa, Tonga and even Hawai'i. Archeological evidence also shows signs of human settlement on Moturiki Island beginning at least by 600 BC and possibly as far back as 900 BC. Although some aspects of Fijian culture are similar to the Melanesian culture of the western Pacific, Fijian culture has a stronger connection to the older Polynesian cultures. The evidence is clear that there was trade between Fiji and neighbouring archipelagos long before Europeans made contact with Fiji. For example: The remains of ancient canoes made from native Fijian trees have been found in Tonga the language of Fiji's Lau Islands contains Tongan words and ancient pots that had been made in Fiji have been found in Samoa and even as far away as the Marquesas Islands.

In the 10th century, the Tu'i Tonga Empire was established in Tonga, and Fiji came within its sphere of influence. The Tongan influence brought Polynesian customs and language into Fiji. That empire began to decline in the 13th century.

Unsurprisingly, since Fiji spans 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) from east to west, it has been a nation of many languages. Fiji has long had permanent settlements, but its peoples also have a history of mobility. Over the centuries, unique Fijian cultural practices developed. Fijians constructed large, elegant watercraft, with rigged sails called drua and exported some of to Tonga. Fijians also developed a distinctive style of village architecture, including of communal and individual bure and vale housing, and an advanced system of ramparts and moats that were usually constructed around the more important settlements. Pigs were domesticated for food, and a variety of agricultural plantations, such as banana plantations, existed from an early stage. Villages were supplied with water brought in by constructed wooden aqueducts. Fijians lived in societies led by chiefs, elders and notable warriors. Spiritual leaders, often called bete, were also important cultural figures, and the production and consumption of yaqona was part of their ceremonial and community rites. Fijians developed a monetary system where the polished teeth of the sperm whale, called tambua, became an active currency. A type of writing existed which can be seen today in various petroglyphs around the islands. [25] Fijians developed a refined masi cloth textile industry, and used the cloth they produced to make sails and clothes such as the malo and the liku. As with most other ancient human civilisations, warfare or preparation for warfare was an important part of everyday life in pre-colonial Fiji. The Fijians were noted for their distinctive use of weapons, especially war clubs. [26] [27] Fijians use many different types of clubs that can be broadly divided into two groups, two handed clubs and small specialised throwing clubs called ula. [28]

With the arrival of Europeans in the 17th century, and European colonization in the late 19th century, many elements of Fijian culture were either repressed or modified to ensure European — specifically, British - control. This was especially the case with respect to traditional Fijian spiritual beliefs. Early colonists and missionaries pointed to the practice of cannibalism in Fiji as providing a moral imperative justifying colonization. [29] Europeans labelled many native Fijian customs as debased or primitive, enabling many colonists to see Fiji as a "paradise wasted on savage cannibals". [30] Stories of cannibalism were circulated during the 19th century, such as one about Ratu Udre Udre, who was said to have consumed 872 people and to have made a pile of stones to record his achievement. [31] Stories like that made it easier for Europeans to stereotype and denigrate Fijians as "uncivilised". Authors such as Deryck Scarr [32] have perpetuated 19th century claims of "freshly killed corpses piled up for eating" and ceremonial mass human sacrifice on the construction of new houses and boats. [33] In fact, during colonial times, Fiji was known as the Cannibal Isles. On the other hand, William MacGregor, the long-term chief medical officer in British colonial Fiji, wrote that tasting of the flesh of the enemy was done only on rare occasions, and only "to indicate supreme hatred and not out of relish for a gastronomic treat". [34]

However, recent archaeological research conducted on Fijian sites has shown that Fijians did in fact practice cannibalism, which has helped modern scholars to assess the accuracy of some of these colonial European accounts. Studies conducted by scholars including Degusta, [35] Cochrane, [36] and Jones [37] provide evidence of burnt or cut human skeletons, suggesting that cannibalism was practised in Fiji. In a 2015 study by Jones et al., isotopic analysis of bone collagen provided evidence that human flesh had been consumed by Fijians, although it was likely a small, and not necessarily regular, part of their diet. [37]

However, these archaeological accounts indicate that cannibalistic practices were likely more intermittent and less ubiquitous than European settlers had implied. They also suggest that and that exocannibalism (cannibalism of members of outsider tribes), and cannibalism practised as a means of violence or revenge, played significantly smaller roles in Fijian culture than colonial European accounts suggested. It appears that the cannibalism may more often have been nonviolent and ritualistic. [36] [37]

Early interaction with Europeans Edit

Dutch explorer Abel Tasman was the first known European visitor to Fiji, sighting the northern island of Vanua Levu and the North Taveuni archipelago in 1643 while looking for the Great Southern Continent. [38] [ circular reference ]

James Cook, the British navigator, visited one of the southern Lau islands in 1774. It was not until 1789, however, that the islands were charted and plotted, when William Bligh, the castaway captain of HMS Bounty, passed Ovalau and sailed between the main islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu en route to Batavia, in what is now Indonesia. Bligh Water, the strait between the two main islands, is named after him and for a time, the Fiji Islands were known as the Bligh Islands.

The first Europeans to maintain substantial contact with the Fijians were sandalwood merchants, whalers and "beche-de-mer" (sea cucumber) traders. The first whaling vessel known to have visited was the Ann and Hope in 1799, and she was followed by many others in the 19th century. [39] These ships came for drinking water, food and firewood and, later, for men to help man their ships. Some of the Europeans who came to Fiji in this period were accepted by the locals and were allowed to stay as residents. Probably the most famous of these was a Swede by the name of Kalle Svenson, better known as Charlie Savage. Savage was permitted to take wives and establish himself in a high rank in Bau society in exchange for helping defeat local adversaries. In 1813, Savage became a victim of this lifestyle and was killed in a botched raid. [40]

By the 1820s, Levuka was established as the first European-style town in Fiji, on the island of Ovalau. The market for "beche-de-mer" in China was lucrative, and British and American merchants set up processing stations on various islands. Local Fijians were utilised to collect, prepare and pack the product which would then be shipped to Asia. A good cargo would result in a half-yearly profit of around $25,000 for the dealer. [41] The Fijian workers were often given firearms and ammunition as an exchange for their labour, and by the end of the 1820s most of the Fijian chiefs had muskets and many were skilled at using them. Some Fijian chiefs soon felt confident enough with their new weapons to forcibly obtain more destructive weaponry from the Europeans. In 1834, men from Viwa and Bau were able to take control of the French ship L'amiable Josephine and use its cannon against their enemies on the Rewa River, although they later ran it aground. [42]

Christian missionaries like David Cargill also arrived in the 1830s from recently converted regions such as Tonga and Tahiti, and by 1840 the European settlement at Levuka had grown to about 40 houses with former whaler David Whippey being a notable resident. The religious conversion of the Fijians was a gradual process which was observed first-hand by Captain Charles Wilkes of the United States Exploring Expedition. Wilkes wrote that "all the chiefs seemed to look upon Christianity as a change in which they had much to lose and little to gain". [43] Christianised Fijians, in addition to forsaking their spiritual beliefs, were pressured into cutting their hair short, adopting the sulu form of dress from Tonga and fundamentally changing their marriage and funeral traditions. This process of enforced cultural change was called lotu. [44] Intensification of conflict between the cultures increased, and Wilkes was involved in organising a large punitive expedition against the people of Malolo. He ordered an attack with rockets which acted as makeshift incendiary devices. The village, with the occupants trapped inside, quickly became an inferno with Wilkes noting that the "shouts of men were intermingled with the cries and shrieks of the women and children" as they burnt to death. Wilkes demanded the survivors should "sue for mercy" and if not "they must expect to be exterminated". Around 57 to 87 Maloloan people were killed in this encounter. [45]

Cakobau and the wars against Christian infiltration Edit

The 1840s was a time of conflict where various Fiji clans attempted to assert dominance over each other. Eventually, a warlord named Seru Epenisa Cakobau of Bau Island was able to become a powerful influence in the region. His father was Ratu Tanoa Visawaqa, the Vunivalu (a chiefly title meaning warlord, often translated also as paramount chief) who had previously subdued much of western Fiji. Cakobau, following on from his father, became so dominant that he was able to expel the Europeans from Levuka for five years over a dispute about their giving of weapons to his local enemies. In the early 1850s, Cakobau went one step further and declared war on all Christians. His plans were thwarted after the missionaries in Fiji received support from the already converted Tongans and the presence of a British warship. The Tongan Prince Enele Ma'afu, a Christian, had established himself on the island of Lakeba in 1848, forcibly converting the local people to the Methodist Church. Cakobau and other chiefs in the west of Fiji regarded Ma'afu as a threat to their power and resisted his attempts to expand Tonga's dominion. Cakobau's influence, however, began to wane, and his heavy imposition of taxes on other Fijian chiefs, who saw him at best as first among equals, caused them to defect from him. [46]

Around this time the United States also became interested in asserting their power in the region, and they threatened intervention following a number of incidents involving their consul in the Fiji islands, John Brown Williams. In 1849, Williams had his trading store looted following an accidental fire, caused by stray cannon fire during a Fourth of July celebration, and in 1853 the European settlement of Levuka was burnt to the ground. Williams blamed Cakobau for both these incidents, and the U.S. representative wanted Cakobau's capital at Bau destroyed in retaliation. A naval blockade was instead set up around the island which put further pressure on Cakobau to give up on his warfare against the foreigners and their Christian allies. Finally, on 30 April 1854, Cakobau offered his soro (supplication) and yielded to these forces. He underwent the lotu and converted to Christianity. The traditional Fijian temples in Bau were destroyed, and the sacred nokonoko trees were cut down. Cakobau and his remaining men were then compelled to join with the Tongans, backed by the Americans and British, to subjugate the remaining chiefs in the region who still refused to convert. These chiefs were soon defeated with Qaraniqio of the Rewa being poisoned and Ratu Mara of Kaba being hanged in 1855. After these wars, most regions of Fiji, except for the interior highland areas, had been forced into giving up much of their traditional systems and were now vassals of Western interest. Cakobau was retained as a largely symbolic representative of a few Fijian peoples and was allowed to take the ironic and self proclaimed title of "Tui Viti" ("King of Fiji"), but the overarching control now lay with foreign powers. [47]

Cotton, confederacies and the Kai Colo Edit

The rising price of cotton in the wake of the American Civil War (1861–1865) caused an influx of hundreds of settlers to Fiji in the 1860s from Australia and the United States in order to obtain land and grow cotton. Since there was still a lack of functioning government in Fiji, these planters were often able to get the land in violent or fraudulent ways such as exchanging weapons or alcohol with Fijians who may or may not have been the true owners. Although this made for cheap land acquisition, competing land claims between the planters became problematic with no unified government to resolve the disputes. In 1865, the settlers proposed a confederacy of the seven main native kingdoms in Fiji to establish some sort of government. This was initially successful, and Cakobau was elected as the first president of the confederacy. [48]

With the demand for land high, the white planters started to push into the hilly interior of Viti Levu. This put them into direct confrontation with the Kai Colo, which was a general term to describe the various Fijian clans resident to these inland districts. The Kai Colo were still living a mostly traditional lifestyle, they were not Christianised, and they were not under the rule of Cakobau or the confederacy. In 1867, a travelling missionary named Thomas Baker was killed by Kai Colo in the mountains at the headwaters of the Sigatoka River. The acting British consul, John Bates Thurston, demanded that Cakobau lead a force of Fijians from coastal areas to suppress the Kai Colo. Cakobau eventually led a campaign into the mountains but suffered a humiliating loss with 61 of his fighters being killed. [49] Settlers also came into conflict with the local eastern Kai Colo people called the Wainimala. Thurston called in the Australia Station section of the Royal Navy for assistance. The Navy duly sent Commander Rowley Lambert and HMS Challenger to conduct a punitive mission against the Wainimala. An armed force of 87 men shelled and burnt the village of Deoka, and a skirmish ensued which resulted in the deaths of over 40 Wainimala. [50]

Kingdom of Fiji (1871–1874) Edit

After the collapse of the confederacy, Enele Maʻafu established a stable administration in the Lau Islands and the Tongans. Other foreign powers such as the United States were considering the possibility of annexing Fiji. This situation was not appealing to many settlers, almost all of whom were British subjects from Australia. Britain, however, refused to annex the country, and a compromise was needed. [51]

In June 1871, George Austin Woods, an ex-lieutenant of the Royal Navy, managed to influence Cakobau and organise a group of like-minded settlers and chiefs into forming a governing administration. Cakobau was declared the monarch (Tui Viti) and the Kingdom of Fiji was established. Most Fijian chiefs agreed to participate, and even Ma'afu chose to recognise Cakobau and participate in the constitutional monarchy. However, many of the settlers had come from British colonies like Victoria and New South Wales where negotiation with the indigenous people almost universally involved forced coercion. As a result, several aggressive, racially motivated opposition groups, such as the British Subjects Mutual Protection Society, sprouted up. One group called themselves the Ku Klux Klan in a homage to the white supremacist group in America. [52] However, when respected individuals such as Charles St Julian, Robert Sherson Swanston and John Bates Thurston were appointed by Cakobau, a degree of authority was established. [53]

With the rapid increase in white settlers into the country, the desire for land acquisition also intensified. Once again, conflict with the Kai Colo in the interior of Viti Levu ensued. In 1871, the killing of two settlers near the Ba River (Fiji) in the northwest of the island prompted a large punitive expedition of white farmers, imported slave labourers, and coastal Fijians to be organised. This group of around 400 armed vigilantes, including veterans of the U.S. Civil War, had a battle with the Kai Colo near the village of Cubu, in which both sides had to withdraw. The village was destroyed, and the Kai Colo, despite being armed with muskets, received numerous casualties. [54] The Kai Colo responded by making frequent raids on the settlements of the whites and Christian Fijians throughout the district of Ba. [55] Likewise, in the east of the island on the upper reaches of the Rewa River, villages were burnt, and many Kai Colo were shot by the vigilante settler squad called the Rewa Rifles. [56]

Although the Cakobau government did not approve of the settlers taking justice into their own hands, it did want the Kai Colo subjugated and their land sold. The solution was to form an army. Robert S. Swanston, the minister for Native Affairs in the Kingdom, organised the training and arming of suitable Fijian volunteers and prisoners to become soldiers in what was invariably called the King's Troops or the Native Regiment. In a similar system to the Native Police that was present in the colonies of Australia, two white settlers, James Harding and W. Fitzgerald, were appointed as the head officers of this paramilitary brigade. [57] The formation of this force did not sit well with many of the white plantation owners as they did not trust an army of Fijians to protect their interests.

The situation intensified further in early 1873 when the Burns family was killed by a Kai Colo raid in the Ba River area. The Cakobau government deployed 50 King's Troopers to the region under the command of Major Fitzgerald to restore order. The local whites refused their posting, and deployment of another 50 troops under Captain Harding was sent to emphasise the government's authority. To prove the worth of the Native Regiment, this augmented force went into the interior and massacred about 170 Kai Colo people at Na Korowaiwai. Upon returning to the coast, the force was met by the white settlers who still saw the government troops as a threat. A skirmish between the government's troops and the white settlers' brigade was only prevented by the intervention of Captain William Cox Chapman of HMS Dido, who detained the leaders of the locals, forcing the group to disband. The authority of the King's Troops and the Cakobau government to crush the Kai Colo was now total. [58]

From March to October 1873, a force of about 200 King's Troops under the general administration of Swanston with around 1,000 coastal Fijian and white volunteer auxiliaries, led a campaign throughout the highlands of Viti Levu to annihilate the Kai Colo. Major Fitzgerald and Major H.C. Thurston (the brother of John Bates Thurston) led a two pronged attack throughout the region. The combined forces of the different clans of the Kai Colo made a stand at the village of Na Culi. The Kai Colo were defeated with dynamite and fire being used to flush them out from their defensive positions amongst the mountain caves. Many Kai Colo were killed, and one of the main leaders of the hill clans, Ratu Dradra, was forced to surrender with around 2,000 men, women and children being taken prisoner and sent to the coast. [59] In the months after this defeat, the only main resistance was from the clans around the village of Nibutautau. Major Thurston crushed this resistance in the two months following the battle at Na Culi. Villages were burnt, Kai Colo were killed, and a further large number of prisoners were taken. [60] About 1,000 of the prisoners (men, women and children) were sent to Levuka where some were hanged and the rest were sold into slavery and forced to work on various plantations throughout the islands. [61]

Blackbirding and slavery in Fiji Edit

The blackbirding era began in Fiji in 1865 when the first New Hebridean and Solomon Islands labourers were transported there to work on cotton plantations. The American Civil War had cut off the supply of cotton to the international market when the Union blockaded Confederate ports. Cotton cultivation was potentially an extremely profitable business. Thousands of European planters flocked to Fiji to establish plantations but found the natives unwilling to adapt to their plans. They sought labour from the Melanesian islands. On 5 July 1865 Ben Pease received the first licence to provide 40 labourers from the New Hebrides to Fiji. [62]

The British and Queensland governments tried to regulate this recruiting and transport of labour. Melanesian labourers were to be recruited for a term of three years, paid three pounds per year, issued basic clothing, and given access to the company store for supplies. Most Melanesians were recruited by deceit, usually being enticed aboard ships with gifts, and then locked up. In 1875, the chief medical officer in Fiji, Sir William MacGregor, listed a mortality rate of 540 out of every 1,000 labourers. After the expiry of the three-year contract, the government required captains to transport the labourers back to their villages, but most ship captains dropped them off at the first island they sighted off the Fiji waters. The British sent warships to enforce the law (Pacific Islanders' Protection Act of 1872), but only a small proportion of the culprits were prosecuted.

A notorious incident of the blackbirding trade was the 1871 voyage of the brig Carl, organised by Dr James Patrick Murray, [63] to recruit labourers to work in the plantations of Fiji. Murray had his men reverse their collars and carry black books, to appear as church missionaries. When islanders were enticed to a religious service, Murray and his men would produce guns and force the islanders onto boats. During the voyage Murray shot about 60 islanders. He was never brought to trial for his actions, as he was given immunity in return for giving evidence against his crew members. [64] [63] The captain of the Carl, Joseph Armstrong, was later sentenced to death. [63] [65]

In addition to the blackbirded labour from other Pacific islands, thousands of people indigenous to the Fijian archipelago were sold into slavery on the plantations. As the white settler backed Cakobau government, and later the British colonial government, subjugated areas in Fiji under its power, the resultant prisoners of war were regularly sold at auction to the planters. This provided a source of revenue for the government and also dispersed the rebels to different, often isolated islands where the plantations were located. The land that was occupied by these people before they became slaves was then also sold for additional revenue. An example of this is the Lovoni people of Ovalau, who after being defeated in a war with the Cakobau government in 1871, were rounded up and sold to the settlers at £6 per head. Two thousand Lovoni men, women and children were sold, and their period of slavery lasted five years. [66] Likewise, after the Kai Colo wars in 1873, thousands of people from the hill tribes of Viti Levu were sent to Levuka and sold into slavery. [67] Warnings from the Royal Navy stationed in the area that buying these people was illegal were largely given without enforcement, and the British consul in Fiji, Edward Bernard Marsh, regularly turned a blind eye to this type of labour trade. [68]

Colonisation Edit

Despite achieving military victories over the Kai Colo, the Cakobau government was faced with problems of legitimacy and economic viability. Indigenous Fijians and white settlers refused to pay taxes, and the cotton price had collapsed. With these major issues in mind, John Bates Thurston approached the British government, at Cakobau's request, with another offer to cede the islands. The newly elected Tory British government under Benjamin Disraeli encouraged expansion of the empire and was therefore much more sympathetic to annexing Fiji than it had been previously. The murder of Bishop John Patteson of the Melanesian Mission at Nukapu in the Reef Islands had provoked public outrage, which was compounded by the massacre by crew members of more than 150 Fijians on board the brig Carl. Two British commissioners were sent to Fiji to investigate the possibility of an annexation. The question was complicated by maneuverings for power between Cakobau and his old rival, Ma'afu, with both men vacillating for many months. On 21 March 1874, Cakobau made a final offer, which the British accepted. On 23 September, Sir Hercules Robinson, soon to be appointed the British Governor of Fiji, arrived on HMS Dido and received Cakobau with a royal 21-gun salute. After some vacillation, Cakobau agreed to renounce his Tui Viti title, retaining the title of Vunivalu, or Protector. The formal cession took place on 10 October 1874, when Cakobau, Ma'afu, and some of the senior chiefs of Fiji signed two copies of the Deed of Cession. Thus the Colony of Fiji was founded 96 years of British rule followed. [69]

Measles epidemic of 1875 Edit

To celebrate the annexation of Fiji, Hercules Robinson, who was Governor of New South Wales at the time, took Cakobau and his two sons to Sydney. There was a measles outbreak in that city and the three Fijians all came down with the disease. On returning to Fiji, the colonial administrators decided not to quarantine the ship on which the convalescents travelled. This was despite the British having a very extensive knowledge of the devastating effect of infectious disease on an unexposed population. In 1875–76 the resulting epidemic of measles killed over 40,000 Fijians, [70] about one-third of the Fijian population. Some Fijians allege that this failure of quarantine was a deliberate action to introduce the disease into the country. Historians have found no such evidence the disease spread before the new British governor and colonial medical officers had arrived, and no quarantine rules existed under the outgoing regime. [71] [72]

Sir Arthur Gordon and the "Little War" Edit

Robinson was replaced as Governor of Fiji in June 1875 by Sir Arthur Hamilton Gordon. Gordon was immediately faced with an insurgency of the Qalimari and Kai Colo people. In early 1875, colonial administrator Edgar Leopold Layard had met with thousands of highland clans at Navuso to formalise their subjugation to British rule and Christianity. Layard and his delegation managed to spread the measles epidemic to the highlanders, causing mass deaths in this population. As a result, anger at the British colonists flared throughout the region, and a widespread uprising quickly took hold. Villages along the Sigatoka River and in the highlands above this area refused British control, and Gordon was tasked with quashing this rebellion. [73]

In what Gordon termed the "Little War", the suppression of this uprising took the form of two co-ordinated military campaigns in the western half of Viti Levu. The first was conducted by Gordon's second cousin, Arthur John Lewis Gordon, against the Qalimari insurgents along the Sigatoka River. The second campaign was led by Louis Knollys against the Kai Colo in the mountains to the north of the river. Governor Gordon invoked a type of martial law in the area where Arthur John Lewis Gordon and Knollys had absolute power to conduct their missions outside of any restrictions of legislation. The two groups of rebels were kept isolated from each other by a force led by Walter Carew and George Le Hunte who were stationed at Nasaucoko. Carew also ensured the rebellion did not spread east by securing the loyalty of the Wainimala people of the eastern highlands. The war involved the use of the soldiers of the old Native Regiment of Cakobau supported by around 1,500 Christian Fijian volunteers from other areas of Viti Levu. The colonial New Zealand Government provided most of the advanced weapons for the army including 100 Snider rifles.

The campaign along the Sigatoka River was conducted under a scorched earth policy whereby numerous rebel villages were burnt and their fields ransacked. After the capture and destruction of the main fortified towns of Koroivatuma, Bukutia and Matanavatu, the Qalimari surrendered en masse. Those not killed in the fighting were taken prisoner and sent to the coastal town of Cuvu. This included 827 men, women and children as well as Mudu, the leader of the insurgents. The women and children were distributed to places like Nadi and Nadroga. Of the men, 15 were sentenced to death at a hastily conducted trial at Sigatoka. Governor Gordon was present, but chose to leave the judicial responsibility to his relative, Arthur John Lewis Gordon. Four were hanged and ten, including Mudu, were shot with one prisoner managing to escape. By the end of proceedings the governor noted that "my feet were literally stained with the blood that I had shed". [74]

The northern campaign against the Kai Colo in the highlands was similar but involved removing the rebels from large, well protected caves in the region. Knollys managed to clear the caves "after some considerable time and large expenditure of ammunition". The occupants of these caves included whole communities, and as a result many men, women and children were either killed or wounded in these operations. The rest were taken prisoner and sent to the towns on the northern coast. The chief medical officer in British Fiji, William MacGregor, also took part both in killing Kai Colo and tending to their wounded. After the caves were taken, the Kai Colo surrendered and their leader, Bisiki, was captured. Various trials were held, mostly at Nasaucoko under Le Hunte, and 32 men were either hanged or shot including Bisiki, who was killed trying to escape. [75]

By the end of October 1876, the "Little War" was over, and Gordon had succeeded in vanquishing the rebels in the interior of Viti Levu. Remaining insurgents were sent into exile with hard labour for up to 10 years. Some non-combatants were allowed to return to rebuild their villages, but many areas in the highlands were ordered by Gordon to remain depopulated and in ruins. Gordon also constructed a military fortress, Fort Canarvon, at the headwaters of the Sigatoka River where a large contingent of soldiers were based to maintain British control. He renamed the Native Regiment, the Armed Native Constabulary to lessen its appearance of being a military force. [75]

To further consolidate social control throughout the colony, Governor Gordon introduced a system of appointed chiefs and village constables in the various districts to both enact his orders and report any disobedience from the populace. Gordon adopted the chiefly titles Roko and Buli to describe these deputies and established a Great Council of Chiefs which was directly subject to his authority as Supreme Chief. This body remained in existence until being suspended by the military-backed interim government in 2007 and only abolished in 2012. Gordon also extinguished the ability of Fijians to own, buy or sell land as individuals, the control being transferred to colonial authorities. [76]

Indian indenture system in Fiji Edit

Gordon decided in 1878 to import indentured labourers from India to work on the sugarcane fields that had taken the place of the cotton plantations. The 463 Indians arrived on 14 May 1879 – the first of some 61,000 that were to come before the scheme ended in 1916. The plan involved bringing the Indian workers to Fiji on a five-year contract, after which they could return to India at their own expense if they chose to renew their contract for a second five-year term, they would be given the option of returning to India at the government's expense, or remaining in Fiji. The great majority chose to stay. The Queensland Act, which regulated indentured labour in Queensland, was made law in Fiji also.

Between 1879 and 1916, tens of thousands of Indians moved to Fiji to work as indentured labourers, especially on sugarcane plantations. A total of 42 ships made 87 voyages, carrying Indian indentured labourers to Fiji. Initially the ships brought labourers from Calcutta, but from 1903 all ships except two also brought labourers from Madras and Bombay. A total of 60,965 passengers left India but only 60,553 (including births at sea) arrived in Fiji. A total of 45,439 boarded ships in Calcutta and 15,114 in Madras. Sailing ships took, on average, 73 days for the trip while steamers took 30 days. The shipping companies associated with the labour trade were Nourse Line and British-India Steam Navigation Company.

Repatriation of indentured Indians from Fiji began on 3 May 1892, when the British Peer brought 464 repatriated Indians to Calcutta. Various ships made similar journeys to Calcutta and Madras, concluding with Sirsa's 1951 voyage. In 1955 and 1956, three ships brought Indian labourers from Fiji to Sydney, from where the labourers flew to Bombay. Indentured Indians wishing to return to India were given two options. One was travel at their own expense and the other free of charge but subject to certain conditions. To obtain free passage back to India, labourers had to have been above age twelve upon arrival, completed at least five years of service and lived in Fiji for a total of ten consecutive years. A child born to these labourers in Fiji could accompany his or her parents or guardian back to India if he or she was under twelve. Because of the high cost of returning at their own expense, most indentured immigrants returning to India left Fiji around ten to twelve years after their arrival. Indeed, just over twelve years passed between the voyage of the first ship carrying indentured Indians to Fiji (the Leonidas, in 1879) and the first ship to take Indians back (the British Peer, in 1892). Given the steady influx of ships carrying indentured Indians to Fiji up until 1916, repatriated Indians generally boarded these same ships on their return voyage. The total number of repatriates under the Fiji indenture system is recorded as 39,261, while the number of arrivals is said to have been 60,553. Because the return figure includes children born in Fiji, many of the indentured Indians never returned to India. Direct return voyages by ship ceased after 1951. Instead, arrangements were made for flights from Sydney to Bombay, the first of which departed in July 1955. Labourers still travelled to Sydney by ship.

Tuka rebellions Edit

With almost all aspects of indigenous Fijian social life being controlled by British authorities, a number of charismatic individuals preaching dissent and return to pre-colonial culture were able to forge a following amongst the disenfranchised. These movements were called Tuka, which roughly translates as "those who stand up". The first Tuka movement, was led by Ndoongumoy, better known as Navosavakandua which means "he who speaks only once". He told his followers that if they returned to traditional ways and worshipped traditional deities such as Degei and Rokola, their current condition would be transformed, with the whites and their puppet Fijian chiefs being subservient to them. Navosavakandua was previously exiled from the Viti Levu highlands in 1878 for disturbing the peace, and the British quickly arrested him and his followers after this open display of rebellion. He was again exiled, this time to Rotuma where he died soon after his 10-year sentence ended. [77]

Other Tuka organisations, however, soon appeared. The British were ruthless in their suppression of both the leaders and followers with figureheads such as Sailose being banished to an asylum for 12 years. In 1891, entire populations of villages who were sympathetic to the Tuka ideology were deported as punishment. [78] Three years later in the highlands of Vanua Levu, where locals had re-engaged in traditional religion, Governor Thurston ordered in the Armed Native Constabulary to destroy the towns and the religious relics. Leaders were jailed and villagers exiled or forced to amalgamate into government-run communities. [79] Later, in 1914, Apolosi Nawai came to the forefront of Fijian Tuka resistance by founding Viti Kabani, a co-operative company that would legally monopolise the agricultural sector and boycott European planters. The British and their proxy Council of Chiefs were not able to prevent the Viti Kabani's rise, and again the colonists were forced to send in the Armed Native Constabulary. Apolosi and his followers were arrested in 1915, and the company collapsed in 1917. Over the next 30 years, Apolosi was re-arrested, jailed and exiled, with the British viewing him as a threat right up to his death in 1946. [80]

World War I and II Edit

Fiji was only peripherally involved in World War I. One memorable incident occurred in September 1917 when Count Felix von Luckner arrived at Wakaya Island, off the eastern coast of Viti Levu, after his raider, SMS Seeadler, had run aground in the Cook Islands following the shelling of Papeete in the French territory of Tahiti. On 21 September, the district police inspector took a number of Fijians to Wakaya, and von Luckner, not realising that they were unarmed, unwittingly surrendered.

Citing unwillingness to exploit the Fijian people, the colonial authorities did not permit Fijians to enlist. One Fijian of chiefly rank, a great-grandson of Cakobau, joined the French Foreign Legion and received France's highest military decoration, the Croix de Guerre. After going on to complete a law degree at Oxford University, this same chief returned to Fiji in 1921 as both a war hero and the country's first-ever university graduate. In the years that followed, Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna, as he was later known, established himself as the most powerful chief in Fiji and forged embryonic institutions for what would later become the modern Fijian nation.

By the time of World War II, the United Kingdom had reversed its policy of not enlisting natives, and many thousands of Fijians volunteered for the Fiji Infantry Regiment, which was under the command of Ratu Sir Edward Cakobau, another great-grandson of Cakobau. The regiment was attached to New Zealand and Australian army units during the war. Because of its central location, Fiji was selected as a training base for the Allies. An airstrip was built at Nadi (later to become an international airport), and gun emplacements studded the coast. Fijians gained a reputation for bravery in the Solomon Islands campaign, with one war correspondent describing their ambush tactics as "death with velvet gloves". Corporal Sefanaia Sukanaivalu, of Yucata, was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, as a result of his bravery in the Battle of Bougainville.

Responsible government Edit

A constitutional conference was held in London in July 1965 to discuss constitutional changes with a view to introducing responsible government. Indo-Fijians, led by A. D. Patel, demanded the immediate introduction of full self-government, with a fully elected legislature, to be elected by universal suffrage on a common voters' roll. These demands were vigorously rejected by the ethnic Fijian delegation, who still feared loss of control over natively owned land and resources should an Indo-Fijian dominated government come to power. The British made it clear, however, that they were determined to bring Fiji to self-government and eventual independence. Realizing that they had no choice, Fiji's chiefs decided to negotiate for the best deal they could get.

A series of compromises led to the establishment of a cabinet system of government in 1967, with Ratu Kamisese Mara as the first Chief Minister. Ongoing negotiations between Mara and Sidiq Koya, who had taken over the leadership of the mainly Indo-Fijian National Federation Party on Patel's death in 1969, led to a second constitutional conference in London, in April 1970, at which Fiji's Legislative Council agreed on a compromise electoral formula and a timetable for independence as a fully sovereign and independent nation within the Commonwealth. The Legislative Council would be replaced with a bicameral Parliament, with a Senate dominated by Fijian chiefs and a popularly elected House of Representatives. In the 52-member House, Native Fijians and Indo-Fijians would each be allocated 22 seats, of which 12 would represent Communal constituencies comprising voters registered on strictly ethnic roles, and another 10 representing National constituencies to which members were allocated by ethnicity but elected by universal suffrage. A further 8 seats were reserved for "General electors" – Europeans, Chinese, Banaban Islanders, and other minorities 3 of these were "communal" and 5 "national". With this compromise, Fiji became independent on 10 October 1970.

Independence Edit

1987 coups d'état Edit

The British granted Fiji independence in 1970. Democratic rule was interrupted by two military coups in 1987 [81] precipitated by a growing perception that the government was dominated by the Indo-Fijian (Indian) community. The second 1987 coup saw both the Fijian monarchy and the Governor General replaced by a non-executive president and the name of the country changed from Dominion of Fiji to Republic of Fiji and then in 1997 to Republic of the Fiji Islands. The two coups and the accompanying civil unrest contributed to heavy Indo-Fijian emigration the resulting population loss resulted in economic difficulties and ensured that Melanesians became the majority. [82]

In 1990, the new constitution institutionalised ethnic Fijian domination of the political system. The Group Against Racial Discrimination (GARD) was formed to oppose the unilaterally imposed constitution and to restore the 1970 constitution. In 1992 Sitiveni Rabuka, the Lieutenant Colonel who had carried out the 1987 coup, became Prime Minister following elections held under the new constitution. Three years later, Rabuka established the Constitutional Review Commission, which in 1997 wrote a new constitution which was supported by most leaders of the indigenous Fijian and Indo-Fijian communities. Fiji was re-admitted to the Commonwealth of Nations.

2000 coup d'état Edit

In 2000, a coup was instigated by George Speight, which effectively toppled the government of Mahendra Chaudhry, who in 1997 had become the country's first Indo-Fijian Prime Minister following the adoption of the new constitution. Commodore Frank Bainimarama assumed executive power after the resignation, possibly forced, of President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara. Later in 2000, Fiji was rocked by two mutinies when rebel soldiers went on a rampage at Suva's Queen Elizabeth Barracks. The High Court ordered the reinstatement of the constitution, and in September 2001, to restore democracy, a general election was held which was won by interim Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase's Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua party. [83]

In 2005, the Qarase government amid much controversy proposed a Reconciliation and Unity Commission with power to recommend compensation for victims of the 2000 coup and amnesty for its perpetrators. However, the military, especially the nation's top military commander, Frank Bainimarama, strongly opposed this bill. Bainimarama agreed with detractors who said that to grant amnesty to supporters of the present government who had played a role in the violent coup was a sham. His attack on the legislation, which continued unremittingly throughout May and into June and July, further strained his already tense relationship with the government.

2006 coup d'état Edit

In late November and early December 2006, Bainimarama was instrumental in the 2006 Fijian coup d'état. Bainimarama handed down a list of demands to Qarase after a bill was put forward to parliament, part of which would have offered pardons to participants in the 2000 coup attempt. He gave Qarase an ultimatum date of 4 December to accede to these demands or to resign from his post. Qarase adamantly refused either to concede or resign, and on 5 December President Ratu Josefa Iloilo signed a legal order dissolving the parliament after meeting with Bainimarama.

Citing corruption in the government, Commodore Bainimarama, Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, staged a military takeover on 5 December 2006 against the prime minister that he had installed after a 2000 coup. There had also been a military coup in 1987. The commodore took over the powers of the presidency and dissolved the parliament, paving the way for the military to continue the takeover. The coup was the culmination of weeks of speculation following conflict between the elected prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, and Commodore Bainimarama. Bainimarama had repeatedly issued demands and deadlines to the prime minister. A particular issue was previously pending legislation to pardon those involved in the 2000 coup. Bainimarama named Jona Senilagakali as caretaker prime minister. The next week Bainimarama said he would ask the Great Council of Chiefs to restore executive powers to the president, Ratu Josefa Iloilo. [84]

On 4 January 2007, the military announced that it was restoring executive power to president Iloilo, [85] who made a broadcast endorsing the actions of the military. [86] The next day, Iloilo named Bainimarama as the interim prime minister, [87] indicating that the military was still effectively in control. In the wake of the takeover, reports emerged of alleged intimidation of some of those critical of the interim regime.

2009 transfer of power Edit

In April 2009, the Fiji Court of Appeal overturned the High Court decision that Commander Bainimarama's takeover of Qarase's government was lawful and declared the interim government to be illegal. Bainimarama agreed to step down as interim prime minister immediately, along with his government, and President Iloilo was to appoint a new prime minister. President Iloilo abrogated the constitution, removed all office holders under the constitution including all judges and the governor of the Central Bank. In his own words, he "appoint[ed] [him]self as the Head of the State of Fiji under a new legal order". [88] He then reappointed Bainimarama under his "New Order" as interim prime minister and imposed a "Public Emergency Regulation" limiting internal travel and allowing press censorship.

On 2 May 2009, Fiji became the first nation ever to have been suspended from participation in the Pacific Islands Forum, for its failure to hold democratic elections by the date promised. [89] [90] Nevertheless, it remains a member of the Forum.

On 1 September 2009, Fiji was suspended from the Commonwealth of Nations. The action was taken because Bainimarama failed to hold elections by 2010 as the Commonwealth of Nations had demanded after the 2006 coup. Bainimarama stated a need for more time to end a voting system that heavily favoured ethnic Fijians at the expense of the multi-ethnic minorities. Critics claimed that he had suspended the constitution and was responsible for human rights violations by arresting and detaining opponents. [91] [92]

In his 2010 New Year's address, Bainimarama announced the lifting of the Public Emergency Regulations (PER). However, the PER was not rescinded until January 2012, and the Suva Philosophy Club was the first organisation to reorganise and convene public meetings. [93] The PER had been put in place in April 2009 when the former constitution was abrogated. The PER had allowed restrictions on speech, public gatherings, and censorship of news media and had given security forces added powers. He also announced a nationwide consultation process leading to a new constitution under which the 2014 elections were to be held.

On 14 March 2014, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group voted to change Fiji's full suspension from the Commonwealth of Nations to a suspension from the councils of the Commonwealth, allowing them to participate in a number of Commonwealth activities, including the 2014 Commonwealth Games. [94] [95] [ non-primary source needed ] The suspension was lifted in September 2014. [96]


1: It’s an explorer’s paradise…

Before you swoop in with plans to hop between all the Fiji islands in a fortnight, take a moment to consider this. There are over 300 islands to get to – and that’s before you even start counting the islets. Adding a further 540 destina tions to your list could be doable – with enough time, a can-do attitude and some rudimentary sailing skills. Except, all the bountiful parcels of island life are spread out over 1million square kilometres of ocean. Which really does make Fiji a little lar ger than it appears at first sight in the atlas.


Christianity is the dominant religion in Fiji, and is practiced by 64.4% of the country’s population. The religion was first introduced in Fiji by the Tongans, who were more receptive to the Europeans than Fiji’s indigenous population. As the influence of Enele Ma’afu, a Tongan Prince and an ardent follower of Christianity, grew in the Lau Group of islands of Fiji, Christianity began to spread quickly throughout the country. When Seru Epenisa Cakobau, a powerful Fiji chieftain, converted to Christianity, the religion found an even firmer ground in the country, and the colonization of Fiji by the British in 1874 ensured that Christianity grew and prospered even further. Methodism is the most dominant Christian denomination in Fiji today, while Anglicanism, Catholicism, and several other denominations also have significant followings.

Hinduism is the second major religion in Fiji, and is practiced by 27.9% of the country’s population. Hinduism was introduced in Fiji by indentured Hindu workers who were brought to the island from India by British colonialists to work Fiji’s sugar plantations between 1879 and 1920. Many of these workers and their families settled in Fiji and soon their religion evolved to become an integral part of the Fijian religious beliefs. Today, large and impressive Hindu temples dot the country. The most famous among these temples is the Krishna temple of ISKCON, which is ISCON’s biggest temple outside of India. The lives of Fiji’s Hindus have not been entirely peaceful since the community has faced persecution during several events of communal unrest and coups. The Hindu community of Fiji, however, still continues to thrive and has built several temples, schools, and other institutions that serve their religious, educational, and other needs in Fiji.


Environmental impact of Fiji Water

Fiji Water advertises their green practices on the company web site, but in reality, the "carbon negative" plan they advertise will not be met until 2037. As a result, the company shut down a section of their web site devoted to tracking their progress in carbon reduction.

Also, the company uses a particular square bottle that makes the product stand out from the rest for marketing purposes. The production of that bottle, to make the plastic, transport the bottle to stores, and address the waste is the equivalent of filling up every bottle a quarter of the way with oil.

And here's the worst part: Fiji Water works in Fiji to produce this beautifully packaged bottled water shipped all over the world. Meanwhile, 12 percent of Fiji residents do not have access to clean, safe drinking water, according to the Water Authority of Fiji (via Xinhuanet). While Fiji Water has access to underground springs, the Fijian people have to deal with rusty pipes and an only sometimes functional water system. Access to clean, safe drinking water was defined as a basic human right by the United Nations in 2010 (via United Nations).