Fiji Overview: People

Indigenous Fijians, or iTaukei, are mainly of Melanesian origin with Polynesian elements, which are much more pronounced in the eastern islands; they account for more than half the population. Indo-Fijians, who mainly came from the subcontinent from 1879 to 1916 as indentured workers for the British, make up not quite four tenths of the population and are engaged chiefly in the sugar industry and commerce. In the mid-1960s Indo-Fijians constituted slightly more than half of Fiji's inhabitants; many left after the 1987 coup (see under History ) and as a result of political and economic crises since then. There are also small groups of Europeans, Chinese, and Micronesians. Indigenous Fijians are mainly Christian; about three quarters of the Indo-Fijians are Hindu and one quarter are Muslim. The official languages are English and Fijian; Hindi is also spoken.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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