Fiji

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Fiji is a republic located on an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, consisting of two main islands; Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, and smaller islets. The islands are volcanic in origin, with its nearest neighbours being New Zealand's Kermadec in the south-east, the French islands of New Caledonia in the south-west, and Wallis and Futuna in the north-east, Vanuatu in the west, and Tonga in the east. Fiji was uninhabited until the arrival of the Lapita people around 3500 BC, consisting of Polynesian trading settlements, who were in turn supplanted by the arrival of Melanesian groups. European contact was made with the arrival of the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1643. Settlement followed throughout the 19th century beginning with the arrival of missionaries to the island, and the proclamation of a British colony in 1874. Indian contract workers and their families followed with the establishment of the island's sugar cane industry. Fiji was granted independence in 1970. Since 1987, the country declared itself a republic following a coup. The largest island is Viti Levu, which also hosts the capital Suva. Estimated population of Fiji in 2012 was 858,038.