Fiji History

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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.
1954 LDS missionaries began serving in Fiji.
1970 Fiji became independent.
1971 The Fijiian mission of the LDS Church was created.
1975 The LDS Church opened a technical college.
1983 The first LDS stake is created.
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.
1999 There were about 12,000 LDS Church members.

An LDS temple was dedicated in Fiji and there are 4 stakes established.

While various foreigners passed by the islands, they were explored in 1792 by William Bligh. At the beginning of the 19th century, foreign interest increased with the discovery of sandalwood which 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 and who then remained even though they had limited political and economic rights at the time. Fiji was occupied by Allied forces during World War II. The Indian minority refused to cut their cane at the low prices offered and became tainted in the perception of native Fijians. Indians outnumbered Fijians in 1943, but all colonial authorities were Fijians and only Fijians served in the army. The islands became independent in 1970. In recent decades Indians and Fijians have contested political power. A coup in 1987 imposed military rule and led to an exodus of Indians. A new constitution was adopted in 1990 that concentrated power in the hands of Fijians but was replaced in 1998 by a constitution that provided for a multiracial cabinet. Civilian rule was restored in 1992 but again replaced by a military dictatorship in 2000.[1]


  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.