Fiji History

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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.[1]


B.C. Inhabited by Lapita people from Asia.
1643 Visited by the Dutch.
1774 Visited by Captain Cook of England.
1792 William Bligh explored the Islands.
1800 Traders visited to get sandalwood.
1854 Chief Ratu Cakobau, A Fijian, became a Christian through the efforts of Methodist missionaries. He united rival tribes and ended cannibalism.
1871 Ratu Cakobau became King of Fiji.
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.


  1. The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Melanesia,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1987-2000.