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Friday 15th December
Fiji Facts
The Republic of Fiji consists of over three hundred islands in the South Pacific; around one third are inhabited.

Tomanivi (1,324 m) on the island of Viti Levu is Fiji's highest point.

The Sigatoka Sand Dunes are an early prehistoric site.

Early inhabitants of Fiji are known as the Lapita. The Lapita people were well known for their distinctive pottery.

The Dutch explorer Abel Tasman was the first European to discover the islands of Fiji (1643).

Captain James Cook, the British navigator and explorer, sailed within sight the islands of Fiji in 1774.

After being forced off the HMS Bounty by mutineers, William Bligh, the British Captain, and his loyal crew set out for Tonga (Tofua) and then on through the Fiji archipelago (1789). In 1792 Bligh revisited Fiji in HMS Providence.

The first Christian missionaries arrived in Fiji in 1830.

In 1840 the United States Exploring Expedition charted the major islands of Fiji.

Fiji was annexed by Britain in 1874.

The British in Fiji used indentured labour from India to work on the sugar plantations.

On 29 May Fijians honour the statesman Ratu Sukuna (1888-1958) who promoted indigenous land rights and worked to establish the Native Land Trust Board.

Fijians gained the vote in 1963 and achieved independence in 1970.

Coups in Fiji and suspensions from the Commonwealth occurred in 1987, 2000 and 2006.

Members of the University of the South Pacific in Suva are the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

The Fiji School of Medicine began as the Suva Medical School in 1883. The School aspires to be "a center of Excellence in quality health education, training and research, serving the communities of the Pacific".

The Fiji Institute of Technology (FIT) is one of Fiji's largest technical and vocational institutions. FIT provides a diverse range of courses and opportunities designed to meet the needs of business, industry and government.

The Melanesian countries of Fiji, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands belong to the Melanesian Spearhead Group, a Free Trade Area Agreement.

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