The Fiji Islands were first recorded in detail by Capt. Bligh after the mutiny of the Bounty (1789). In the 19th century the demand for sandalwood attracted merchant ships. Deserters and shipwrecked sailors settled. Tribal wars were bloody and widespread until Fiji was ceded to Britain on 10 Oct. 1874. Fiji gained independence on 10 Oct. 1970. It remained an independent state within the Commonwealth with a Governor-General appointed by the Queen until 1987. In the general election of 12 April 1987 a left-wing coalition came to power with the support of the Indian population who outnumbered the indigenous Fijians by 50% to 44%. However, it was overthrown in a military coup. A month later, Fiji declared itself a Republic and Fiji’s Commonwealth membership lapsed.
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