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After many encounters with explorers, William Bligh explored Fiji in 1792. At the beginning of the 19th century, foreign interest increased with the discovery of sandalwood. Sandalwood was soon depleted. Methodism established itself with the conversion in 1854 of Fiji’s ruler, Ratu Seru Cakobau. Roman Catholic and Anglican missionaries had less success.
Great Britain made Fiji a colony in 1874. From 1879-1916, the British brought in indentured Indian laborers to work on sugar plantations. Many of these Indian immigrants settled permanently in Fiji. Fiji was occupied by Allied forces during World War II. There has been continued strife between native Fijians and Indians.
1789 -The islands were charted and plotted
1861 - 1865 The rising price of cotton in the wake of the American Civil War saw a flood of hundreds of settlers come to Fiji from Australia and the United States in order to obtain land and grow cotton
1874 - The Colony of Fiji was founded and 96 years of British rule followed
1875 - 1876 There was a measles outbreak when three Fijians came down with the disease. On returning to Fiji, the colonial administrators decided not to quarantine the ship that the convalescents travelled in. An epidemic of measles resultant of this decision killed over 40,000 Fijians, about one-third of the Fijian population
1874 - Fiji became a colony of the British
1879 - Large numbers of immigrants from India were brought in to work in the sugar plantations. As a consequence slightly more than half of the population of Fiji today is Indian
1943 - Fiji was occupied by Allied forces. Fijiians served in the army. Indian immigrants did not serve in the army
1970 - Fiji became independent
1987 - Political rivalry of Fijiians and Indians brought on a coup and military rule by Fijiians
1998 - A new constitution provides for a multiracial cabinet