Royal standard of Fiji (1871-1874). Image Credit: WikiCommons.

Fiji is an island country that has historically been incorporated into Melanesia, one of the three Oceanic regions. It contains more than 330 islands and 500 islets, and was initially populated by a mix of Austronesians and Melanesians, with some Polynesian influences. It has been closely connected with Tonga and its kingdoms in its history. In the seventeenth century it came into contact with European colonialists, which changed much of Fijian society as beliefs and practices were repressed. During the nineteenth century conflict between Fijian clans as well as American, European, and Australian forces eventually led to the establishment of a Fijian confederacy in 1865. However, this collapsed quickly and the kingdom of Fiji emerged in 1871. The kingdom was also short-lived, with Fiji becoming a British colony in 1874. In the late 1960s the British and Fijians negotiated to bring an independent government into force, which took place on 10 October 1970. From this point onwards democratic rule was dominant in Fiji.

Whilst evidence is scarce for many of the indigenous female leaders in Fiji, there are surviving sources for at its one queen, Litia Samanunu, who you can find out more about below!


Gravelle, Kim. Fiji’s Times: A History of Fiji. Suva: Fiji Times, 1983

Routledge, David. Matanitu – The Struggle for Power in Early Fiji. Suva: University of the South Pacific, 1985

Waterhouse, Joseph. The King and People of Fiji. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1998.

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