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tiistai 27. syyskuuta 2016

Fiji, Cool Facts #145

<= 144. Malta                                                                                                                146. Kiribati => 

1. James Cook and Fiji's name 

The main island of Fiji is called Viti Levu and the name Fiji derives from that. The neighboring Tongans pronounced the island's name incorrectly "Fisi" so the Anglicised spelling was based on the Tongan pronunciation becoming Fiji. In 1774 the English captain James Cook visited Fiji and he promulgated the name Fiji to the outside world.

James Cook

2. Abel Tasman in Fiji 

Fiji before Europeans
Fiji is estimated to have been inhabited between the years 3500BC and 1000BC. Much is not known about the early inhabitants of Fiji. Canoes found in Tonga and some loanwords from Fijian languages in Tongan suggest that Fijians already traded with its neighbors before the arrival of the Europeans.

First European in Fiji 
The Dutch explorer Abel Tasman was the first European in Fiji, when he sailed there in 1643. The islands weren't tempting for establishing settlements because of the shallows and the cannibalistic tribes on the islands.

Abel Tasman legacy
Many areas in Australia and New Zealand are named after Tasman:

Tasmania island
Tasman Sea
Tasman Peninsula
Tasman Bridge
Tasman Highway

New Zealand
Tasman Glacier
Tasman Lake
Mount Tasman
Tasman River
Abel Tasman National Park

Explorers and discoverers of Fiji stamp

3. British Colonial Era in Fiji

European settlement 
The European settlement on Fijian islands started in the 1800s as missionaries, merchants and farm owners moved there. They were tempted by the production of sandalwood and sea cucumber. Sugar cane cultivation was started on the plantations. 

Chief CakobauIn 1865 chief Cakobau, who had adopted Christianism managed to unite some of Fiji's warring tribes under his leadership, establishing a united Fijian kingdom. Cakobau was held responsible for an arson attack against the Nukulau Island home of John Brown Williams, who was an American Consul. 

Cakobau was unable to pay the 44,000 US dollar compensation and feared that the American would invade and annex his lands, so this is why Cakobau decided to cede the islands to Great Britain. Cakobau also hoped that the British rule would bring civilization and Christianity to Fiji. 

British colony
From the year 1874, when Cakobau ceded his lands to Great Britain, Fiji remained a British colony until 1970.

Seru Epenisa Cakobau

4. Demographics of Fiji

Permanent population of Fiji was 837,000 in 2007. Life expectancy 72,1 years. 

Ethnic groups 
Native Fijians form 54.3% of the population. They are Melanesians but some people have also Polynesian ancestry. 

Indo-Fijians form 38.1% of the population. They are the descendants of the contract laborers brought to the islands by the British colonial powers in the 1800s. 

A small but significant group of descendants of indentured laborers from the Solomon Islands. 
About 1.2% are Rotuman, whose culture is closer to Tongan or Samoan culture. 
A small but economically significant group of Europeans, Chinese and other countries. 

Conflicts between the Fijians and Indo-Fijians
The politics of Fiji have been dominated by the internal struggle between the native Fijians and Indo-Fijians. In 1987 there was a military coup when an Indo-Fijian majority government was being formed. The constitution of 1990 guaranteed native Fijians a leading role in the politics but after international pressure it was modified in 1997 to be more equal. 

In 1999 Mahendra Chaudhry became the first Indo-Fijian Prime Minister of Fiji but he was overthrown from power in a military coup in 2000. The Indo-Fijian population has declined significantly over the last decades due to migration for various reasons. 

Fijian children

5. Geography of Fiji

Total land area 18,274 square kilometers, so it's a bit bigger than Kuwait (17,818sq km) and a bit smaller than Slovenia (20,273sq km). 

The Fijian archipelago consists more than 332 islands and 522 islets. From the 330 islands 106 are permanently inhabited. 

Main islands 
Viti Levu and Vanua Levu are the biggest islands. They were formed as a result of a volcanic eruption. The islands are mountainous with peaks up to 1324 meters and they are also covered with thick tropical forests. Their volcanic soil is very fertile. 

Rotuma island
The Rotuma island is 500km north from the other Fijian islands. In 1987 some rebels declared Rotuma as the independent Republic of Rotuma, but the rebellion was defeated and Rotuma remained part of Great Britain. The main issue was that Rotuma was ceded in 1881 to United Kingdom and not Fiji, which became independent from Great Britain in 1970.

Fiji map
Fiji islands

About 3000BC Fiji was inhabited by Melanesian settlers from Southeast Asia
1643 The Dutch explorer Abel Tasman was the first European in Fiji
1800s European missionaries, merchants and farm owners started settling Fiji
1865 Chief Cakobau managed to unite the islands under a centralized kingdom
1874 Fiji became a British colony
1875-1876 A measles epidemic killed over 40,000 Fijians
1970 Fiji became independent from Great Britain, the political power remained in the hands of the Melanesian population although the Indian population had grown to equal size
1987 A republic was declared, following a series of coups 
1992 Sitiveni Rabuka became Prime Minister
1997 Fiji introduced a new constitution, which wasn't so discriminating against the Indo-Fijians and after this Fiji was re-admitted to the Commonwealth of Nations
1999 Mahendra Chaudhry became Fiji's first Indo-Fijian Prime Minister
2000 Chaudhry was overthrown in a coup and Commodore Frank Bainimarama assumed executive power in the country
2001 Democracy was restored in the general elections, which were won by Laisenia Qarase although Bainimarama remained as an influential person in Fijian politics
2006 Bainimarama led a military coup overthrowing Qarase
2009 Fijian constitutional crisis  after the Fiji Court of Appeal ruled that the 2006 coup was illegal

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