Fiji Independence Day is observed on 10 October every year.
Fiji Day marks the anniversary of both Fiji’s cession to the United Kingdom and its attainment of independence.
This year marks the country’s 52nd anniversary of independence.
According to most sources, first settlers came into the islands from Southeast Asia via the Malay Peninsula. Here the Melanesians and the Polynesians mixed to create a highly developed society long before the arrival of the Europeans.
The European discoveries of the Fiji group were accidental. The first of these discoveries was made in 1643 by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman and English navigators, including Captain James Cook who sailed through in 1774, and made further explorations in the 18th century.
Major credit for the discovery and recording of the islands went to Captain William Bligh who sailed through Fiji after the mutiny on the Bounty in 1789.
The first Europeans to land and live among the Fijians were shipwrecked sailors and runaway convicts from the Australian penal settlements. Sandalwood traders and Christian missionaries came by the mid-19th century.
Cannibalism practiced in Fiji at that time quickly disappeared as missionaries gained influence. When Ratu Seru Cakobau accepted Christianity in 1854, the rest of the country soon followed and tribal warfare came to an end.
From 1879 to 1916 Indians came as indentured labourers to work on the sugar plantations. After the indentured system was abolished, many stayed on as independent farmers and businessmen.
The British took control of the islands as the Colony of Fiji on 10 October 1874. The country later became an independent sovereign state on 10 October 1970 when its colonial status was removed.