Fiji People – Matangi Island
It is believed the Fiji Islands were first settled about 3,500 years ago. In 1643, Dutch Navigator Abel Tasman was the first European to discover Fiji’s Northern group of islands including Matangi Island. A whole century had passed before the next explorer came into contact with the “Cannibal Isles”, as Fiji was known then. During this period, conflict and warfare between Fiji’s indigenous tribes, and attempts by the nearby Tongan islanders to occupy the Eastern part of Fiji were rife. Early settlers at this time were a mixture of shipwrecked sailors, whalers, “Blackbirders”, missionaries and traders of mostly sandalwood, sea cucumber and turtle shell.
In 1874, an offer of cession by the Fijian Chiefs at that time was accepted, and Fiji was proclaimed a possession and dependency of the British Crown. Under British Rule, an agricultural economy was established with mainly sugar cane plantations on Fiji’s larger islands. Over the following 40 years, indentured labourers from the South of India were brought to Fiji to work the sugar plantations.
Fiji became an independent island nation in 1970. Today, the Fiji people are a blend of culturally diverse people, and this mixed racial background contributes to our rich cultural heritage and our identity as Fiji Islanders. Often touted as the friendliest people on earth, it is for this reason, and many more that visitors are drawn to our beautiful island shores.