FIJI

Archeologists have found evidence of mankind dating back to 1290BC, including pottery and fortifications. The Dutch explorer Abel Tasman is hailed as the first European to venture to the Islands in 1643. A plethora of countries visited the area but it wasn’t charted until the Americans got around to it, some time in the 1800’s.

Sandalwood was discovered in 1800 and the greedy “rush” that followed, saw the entire resource depleted by 1814. In 1874, the country was ceded over to the British by Chief Cakobau in order to pay off a $45,000 debt to the Americans. Many British moved there thinking it would stay a part of Britain.

In 1879 the Governor began to bring Indians over to work the copra and sugar plantations, he thought it wrong to send native Fijians to work for the Brits in their own country. Modern history has shown the disastrous result of this policy with military coups used to overthrow the elected government a feature in the latter part of the last century.

Fiji has one of the longest postal histories in the Pacific. The service began when the Fiji Times needed to commence its own postal service to distribute its newspaper and deliver mail to the outer islands which had been previously left at the consulate office. In 1870 the first Fiji Times Express stamps were printed on ungummed paper and were unusual in that the various values were printed on the same sheet – perhaps it was the world’s first sheetlet.

Fiji