History and Politics
The very early history of the Fiji Islands
The first people settled on the Fiji Islands probably 3500 years ago. However, one does not know exactly where they actually come from. There is a famous legend that two divine chiefs came from Africa and founded a village on one of the Fiji islands. Due to a great flood, the people spread to other islands.
In any case, Fiji was under the influence of Polynesia for a long time. For a long time, chiefs from the neighboring island of Tonga ruled the area of the Fiji Islands. Women from Tonga were married to men from the Fiji Islands. The chiefs of Tonga used the Fijians as craftsmen and warriors because they valued their talents. In any case, Melanesians and Polynesians mixed in the course of time and this mixture still shapes the population and the culture of the Fiji Islands to this day.
The Europeans are coming
In 1643 the Dutch Abel Tasman, after whom the Australian island “Tasmania” was named, was the first to see the Fiji archipelago. But he did not enter the country. The famous explorer James Cook, who anchored on the small southern islands of Fiji, dared to take this step in 1774. There is a famous story related to this: The “Mutiny on the Bounty”. The captain of the Bounty was abandoned by his crew on a Fiji island. This story is historical. Several novels, radio plays and films are dedicated to this event.
The 19th century: settlers and missionaries
In the 19th century, more and more European settlers came who first cut down the popular sandalwood and – after the forests had largely been cleared – dedicated themselves to the cultivation of cotton. At the same time missionaries began to look after the faith of the population and to convince them of Christianity. A king named Cakobau became a Christian in 1854. A large part of the population followed suit and also converted to Christianity.
In 1874 Fiji became a British crown colony. The British first used the islands for growing cotton and later mainly for growing sugar cane. For this purpose they brought workers from India to the sugar cane plantations of the Fiji Islands. A large part of these workers stayed in Fiji. The proportion of the population of Indian descent grew as Fijians continued to fall victim to diseases brought in by Europeans. Because the Indian and Fijian cultures differed considerably, there have always been and still are problems.
Independence and many coup attempts
The Fiji Islands gained independence in 1970. This was followed by several coup attempts and repeated unrest. The republic was proclaimed in 1987 and in 1999, Mahendra Chaudhry, the first prime minister to come to power, originally from India. But Fiji could not calm down. In 2000 there was a coup and Chaudhry was deposed. That year, Fiji was again excluded from the Commonwealth, as in 1987.
That happened again in 2009. Because in 2006 Admiral Frank Bainimarama had pushed himself into the highest government office and subsequently did not hold free elections. It was not until 2014 that these elections took place, in which he was confirmed in office.
What is Fiji Time?
Take your time and relax, don’t worry, make no promises. Just see things more calmly. Don’t think so much about tomorrow. Appreciate the little things in life. Catch a fish and enjoy yourself. If you can do all of this, then you’ll be living in Fiji time!
Were there cannibals in Fiji?
The idea of humans eating humans is pretty scary to us. But on some South Sea islands – including Fiji – the belief prevailed that if the opponent was eaten up, his strength would also pass to the winner.
Clear rules for everyone
A strict order has always shaped the life of Fiji. Even today, these rules are very important to people. And everyone had to obey this order. So there was a certain rank that was fixed from birth. Chiefs made life and death decisions. Anyone who broke the rules could be severely punished. Small violations of the rules were often followed by the death penalty.
These customs seem rather cruel to us today, but then they ensured the survival of the people on the islands. In addition, there was the custom of eating up one’s enemies. Consideration and pity were not required here, the enemy would not have done it any differently.
Where do the friendliest people in the world live?
The happiest people in the world should live in Tuvalu and the friendliest people in Fiji. It’s such a thing with superlatives. But maybe there is some truth to it after all?
The hospitality of the people is typical of the Fiji Islands and they warmly welcome all guests. That is why it is often said that the friendliest people in the world live here. In any case, many different cultures and religions live here mostly peacefully.
In the following little video you will get a first impression of what life in Fiji can be like. The sun doesn’t always shine and everything doesn’t always go as it should. But the inhabitants of the islands simply stay relaxed: Bula Fiji!