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Fiji

islands viti commonwealth republic

Fiji, or Viti, independent republic in the southwest Pacific Ocean, comprising about 320 islands (about 105 inhabited) and about 7,095 sq mi (18,376 sq km). Viti Levu (capital city Suva) and Vanua Levu are the 2 largest islands, volcanic in origin. Discovered by Dutch navigator Abel Tasman (1643), the islands were visited by Capt. James Cook (1774) and settled by Europeans in 1804. Britain annexed Fiji in 1874, and over the course of time, brought many indentured servants from India; they eventually came to outnumber the native population (Melanesian and Polynesian in origin). Fiji gained Commonwealth status in 1970 and became a republic in 1987. Chief crops include sugarcane, ginger, and copra; exports include fish and gold; tourism is another major source of income. In 1997 Fiji applied for membership of the Commonwealth.

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