The first islands were sighted by AJ Tasman in 1643 and by J. Cook in 1774, but an extensive reconnaissance was made only by Captain W. Bligh (commander of the Bounty) in 1789. Ceded to the English crown on 10 October 1874, they remained under the sovereignty of Great Britain until the proclamation of independence (10 October 1970), when they entered the Commonwealth. The Alliance Party led by Ratu Kamisese Mara, representative of the Fijian community, ruled the government for the first 17 years of independent history, often troubled by incidents between the indigenous population and the strong Indian community. The defeat of Mara in April 1987 opened a period of strong political instability, marked by a further sharpening of the ethnic conflict that induced a growing part of the population of Indian origin to leave the country. Expression of the indigenous community, the army in the same year had in fact carried out two coups d’etat, to the detriment of the legitimate winner of the elections, sir Penaia Ganilau, who disavowing the coup leaders led by Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka had tried to establish a provisional government. In October 1987, Rabuka proclaimed the Republic, provoking the reaction of the residents of the Rotuma island who threatened the secession from Fiji. Visit baglib.com for history of Oceania.
In the following December, Rabuka appointed the former governor Ganilau as president of the Republic and again placed Mara at the head of the government. Rejected in 1988 the proposal for a new Constitution, judged ethnically discriminatory (to the point that its project alone had strengthened the emigration of the Indian population until the indigenous element returned to the majority), in July 1990 the new Constitutional Charter was approved which, among other things, it brought back the threat of secession of the island of Rotuma. In June 1992, following the first post-coup legislative elections, won by the Fijian Political Party (FPP), Rabuka assumed the post of prime minister. Modified some articles of the 1990 Constitution, which penalized non-Melanesian ethnic minorities, in 1997 Fiji re-entered the Commonwealth. The following year, the launch of the new fundamental charter outlined a parliamentary and multi-ethnic system. General elections were held in 1999, which saw the Labor Party win and the appointment of a prime minister of Indian origin, Mehendra Chaundhry. A new coup d’etat, in May 2000, brought nationalist George Speight to power, who proclaimed himself prime minister and called for a change in the constitution to prevent the access of Fijians of Indian origin to high office in the state. ad interim in Laisenia Quarase, while he was appointed president of the Republic Josefa Iloilovatu by the Grand Council of Heads. In March 2001, the validity of the 1998 multiracial Constitution confirmed and the Quarase government declared unconstitutional, he resigned and President Iloilovatu entrusted the post of prime minister to Ratu Tevita Momoedonu. Momoedonu also resigned immediately, the leadership of the government was entrusted again to Quarase. A few months later, however, new legislative elections were held, which elected in Parliament all the protagonists of the alternating political events that have occurred in the last three years: the incumbent Prime Minister Quarase, the dismissed Chaundhry and the coup leader Speight, still under arrest.
In the following two years, the institutional crisis in place since 2001 continued: the Supreme Court has ordered Prime Minister Quarase to include some ministers of Indian ethnicity in the government, as required by the Constitution. However, they refused to enter as their leader M. Chaundry was excluded. In December 2006 the army carried out a coup, ousting Quarase, while the commander Voreqe “Frank” Bainamarama assumed presidential powers, until 2007, when the new president Josefa Iloilo appointed him prime minister. In 2009 Epeli Nailatikau became president, while the military government imposed the suspension of constitutional rights, causing the expulsion of the country from Commonwealth. In 2014, the first legislative elections were held after the 2006 coup. In the same year, the country was readmitted to the Commonwealth.
The Fijian cultural wealth originates from the heritage of traditions handed down orally from the first residents of the islands, belonging to the Lapita culture. Over time, external contributions have been added to this legacy, mainly from Indian and Western immigrants, whose outcome, however, has often been to jeopardize the very survival of this heritage, looking at some of the consequences of colonization In the figurative arts decoration prevails over sculpture and painting and finds the best applications in utensils (wooden bowls, clay vases, ceramic objects), but also in the colorful and symbolic friezes on traditional clothes and in arms. A national literary tradition is now well established, nourished by both native and Indian authors. Music, song and dance (meke) are among the areas in which the exogenous influences have been strongest, also evident in much of the architecture of the main city centers, in which colonial houses, churches and mosques rise a short distance away. Widespread in the villages as in the cities are ancient festivals and rites, such as the kava ceremony, which, of religious origin, takes its name from a vegetable infusion whose consumption has an important social function. The hub of collecting and promoting the country’s culture is the Fiji Museum in the capital, Suva. In 2013, the historic port of Levuka became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.