Fiji Recent History

Around 250 islands were discovered in March 1643 by the Dutch navigator Abel Tasman. After him the English captains Cook and Bligh completed the exploration.

According to Abbreviationfinder, an acronym site which also features history of Fiji, the first white settlers to land on these islands were the deportees of Sidney, who arrived in 1804. In 1835 the first traders arrived in one of the largest islands, namely Levuka, so these two first categories began the renewal and civilization.

Fiji Recent History

Among the notable figures of that period, the king Thakombau was certainly noteworthy, a cannibal who in 1855 came into conflict with the American government. For the resolution of the matter, the king offered the islands in 1861 to that government which, instead, refused them. Then the same offer was made in 1873 to Great Britain which immediately perfected the contract. So in 1875 the first governor of the islands was Sir A. Gordon.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, several Indian laborers from Madras and Calcutta were introduced to these islands with temporary contracts for the cutting of sugar cane. Then these special contracts were abolished and the Indians remained as free settlers.

Over time, with the work of the missions and with the wise English administration, these islands quickly experienced some progress and also socially the islanders reached a higher level. The Indian colonists, in fact, did not keep the sacred ardor for the cows, as it is still in India today, but learned to appreciate both the milk and the meat of which they fed regularly.

No significant event occurred in the first half of the twentieth century, except that the demographic development of the Indians was certainly higher than that of the real Fijians.

The economic situation remained good while atmospheric disturbances aroused some concern: in 1952 a cyclone significantly damaged the port of Suva which then also suffered an earthquake in 1953. And meanwhile it had been built in Nandi, near the western coast of Viti Levu, one of the most important airports in the Pacific.

With the formation of a national conscience there were also adequate institutions; thus in 1966 a Constitution was promulgated which provided for the birth of a Legislative Council, composed of elected members and the introduction of universal suffrage. And here arose the real big problem for the islands. The population was in part of the people of Melanesian origin, who only had the right to own the land, and by the descendants of the first Indian settlers who had multiplied over time, far exceeding the rest of the population.

It was then a question of keeping the influence of the votes for the election of members of the Senate and the House of Representatives within certain dimensions. On 10 October 1970 Fiji gained independence within the British Commonwealth.

The numerical element of the followers was also important in the formation of the various parties for the orientation of national politics. And amid racial tensions took place the general elections of March-April 1977, won by the Federal National Party, supported by the Indians. But the government was not formed.

The elections had to be repeated in September of the same year and this time he won the Alliance Party, with a Fijian majority, headed by leader Ratu Kamisese Mara, who had previously governed the government previously.

A third party, the Figian Nationalist one, participated in the elections but with an anti-Indian racist campaign and in this spirit was also present in the 1982 elections.

In 1984 there was a very strong union protest due to the freezing of wages, operated by the government. And when that same government wanted to hold an economic conference, the first, in February 1985, the Union union was the protagonist of a complete boycott.

In May of the same year all the leaders of the Union gathered and founded the Labor Party and this, with the alliance of the Federal National Party, won the elections of April 1987.

The new government was formed, chaired by Timoci Bavadra, head of the Labor Party, and for the first time the majority of ministers of Indian origin were reached.

After a month this government suffered a coup d’├ętat organized by Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka, Fijian, and the task was entrusted to the governor general Ratu Ganilau, representative of Queen Elizabeth II.

On September 25, 1987, instead of forming a new government, Rabuka carried out another coup with which he proclaimed the Republic on September 29.

He immediately abolished the Constitution and on 6 October he became head of state. After a few days, however, when British Commonwealth leaders gathered in Canada, the Republic of Fiji was declared out of the community.

Rabuka then, in order not to compromise relations with those organizations that were certainly pro-Fijian, resigned from office and called the former governor-general Ratu Ganilau to government, while Ratu Kamisese Mara was still prime minister.

Rabuka kept only the Ministry of the Interior to himself. In 1990 the new Constitution saw the light, which provided for the majority of the Melanesian ethnicity over the Indian one and the Prime Minister must have been a member of the Melanesian ethnic group, by far.

In proposing the new Constitution, President Ratu Ganilau proposed the year 1991 for subsequent elections. The Commonwealth, however, in 1991 reiterated that Fiji would not rejoin their organization until the Constitution was amended.


Elections postponed to 1992 and were won by the Fijian Political Party of Rabuka. He then became head of government and was Ratu Mara after Ratu Ganilau died.

But in the meantime the affirmation of this nationalistic hegemony had provoked a mass exodus of thousands of Indians, including a considerable number of highly skilled technicians and workers, with serious damage to the economic situation. However, the 1994 consultations still revealed a great prevalence of Fijian nationalists.

Rabuka in 1996 attempted an ethnic reconciliation but to no avail. Then, considering that political isolation after the expulsion from the Commonwealth was significantly deteriorating the country’s economy, he went to work to amend the Constitution, so that there was more balance in the government.

The Constitution was studied and approved and came into operation in 1998. The balance was reached but important was the abolition of that clause that the Indian premier did not want. Fiji was readmitted to the Commonwealth and relations with India were restored.

The political elections of May 1999 were won by the Fijian Labor Party, whose leader Mahendra Chaudhry became Prime Minister.

You may also like...