Fiji profile - timeline

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1643 - Dutch explorer Abel Tasman is the first European to visit the islands.

1830s - Western Christian missionaries begin to arrive.

1840s-50s - Christian convert chief Cakobau gains control of most of western Fiji, while another Christian convert, Ma'afu from Tonga, controls the east.

1868 - Cakobau sells Suva - the current capital of Fiji - to an Australian company.

1871 - European settlers at Levuka island organize a national government and name Cakobau king of Fiji following local disorder.

British rule

1874 - Fiji becomes a British crown colony at the request of Cakobau and other chiefs.

1875-76 - Measles epidemic wipes out one-third of the Fijian population; British forces and Fijian chiefs suppress rebellion.

1879-1916 - More than 60,000 indentured labourers brought in from the Indian subcontinent to work on sugar plantations.

1904 - Legislative Council, consisting of elected Europeans and nominated Fijians, set up to advise the British governor.

1916 - British colonial government in India stops the recruitment of indentured labourers.

1920 - All labour indenture agreements in Fiji end.

Fijians get the vote

1963 - Women and Fijians enfranchised; predominantly Fijian Alliance Party (AP) set up.

1970 - Fiji becomes independent with Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara of the AP as prime minister.

1985 - Timoci Bavadra sets up the Fiji Labour Party with trade union support.

Supremacist coups

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Image caption,
Lt-Col Sitiveni Rabuka seized power in a 1987 coup

1987 April - Indian-dominated coalition led by Bavadra wins general election, ending 17 years of rule by the AP and Prime Minister Mara.

1987 May - Lieutenant-Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka seizes power in bloodless coup with the aim of making indigenous Fijians politically dominant.

1987 October - Rabuka stages a second coup, proclaims Fiji a republic and appoints Governor-General Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau president; Ganilau in turn appoints Ratu Mara prime minister; Fiji expelled from Commonwealth; Britain, the United States, Australia and New Zealand suspend aid.

1989 - Thousands of ethnic Indians flee Fiji.

1990 - New constitution enshrining political dominance for indigenous Fijians introduced.

1992 - Rabuka, of the Fijian Political Party (FPP), becomes prime minister following general election.

1994 - Great Council of Chiefs appoints Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara president in January following the death of Ganilau in the previous month; Rabuka and the FPP win general election.

1997 - Fiji re-admitted to the Commonwealth after it introduces a non-discriminatory constitution.

1999 - Mahendra Chaudhry, an ethnic Indian, becomes prime minister after the Fiji Labour Party emerges from the general election with enough seats to rule on its own.

Prime minister held hostage

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Image caption,
George Speight (r) declared himself acting prime minister

2000 May - Bankrupt businessman George Speight and retired major Ilisoni Ligairi storm parliament, aiming to make indigenous Fijians the dominant political force. They take Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry and his cabinet hostage. Speight proclaims himself acting premier. President Mara sacks the Chaudhry government on the orders of Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs.

2000 June - Commonwealth suspends Fiji.

2000 July - Chaudhry and other hostages released; Great Council of Chiefs appoints Ratu Josefa Iloilo - a former father-in-law of Speight's brother - president

2000 July - Speight and 369 of his supporters arrested.

2000 November - Eight soldiers are killed in a failed army mutiny.


2001 August - Elections to restore democracy; George Speight becomes MP in a new government.

2001 September - Indigenous Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase sworn in, but doesn't offer cabinet posts to opposition Labour Party, in defiance of constitution.

2001 December - George Speight expelled from parliament for failing to attend sessions.

2001 December - Fiji readmitted to the Commonwealth.

2002 February - George Speight sentenced to death for treason. President Iloilo commutes his sentence to life imprisonment.

2002 November - Government announces radical privatisation plan designed to stave off collapse of vital sugar industry threatened by withdrawal of EU subsidies.

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Image caption,
Laisenia Qarase won a second term as premier in May 2006 but was deposed within months

2003 July - Supreme Court rules that Laisenia Qarase must include ethnic-Indian members of the opposition Labour Party in his cabinet.

2004 April - Former leader Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, considered to be independent Fiji's founding father, dies aged 83.

2004 August - Vice President Ratu Jope Seniloli found guilty of treason over his involvement in May 2000 coup attempt. He serves a few months of a four-year sentence.

2004 November - Labour Party declines cabinet seats in favour of opposition role.

Fijian soldiers leave for peacekeeping duties in Iraq.

2005 July - Military chief warns that he will remove government if proposed amnesty for those involved in 2000 coup goes ahead.

2006 March - Great Council of Chiefs elects incumbent President Iloilo to a second, five-year term.

2006 May - Former PM Sitiveni Rabuka is charged with orchestrating a failed army mutiny in November 2000.

Ruling party leader and incumbent PM Laesenia Qarase narrowly wins elections and is sworn in for a second term.

Military coup

2006 October - November - Tensions rise between PM Laesenia Qarase and military chief Frank Bainimarama, who threatens to oust the government after it tries, and fails, to replace him. Mr Qarase goes into hiding as the crisis escalates.

2006 December - Frank Bainimarama says in a televised address he has taken executive powers and dismissed PM Laisenia Qarase. Commonwealth suspends Fiji because of the coup.

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Image caption,
A soldier guards government buildings in December 2006 as another administration is toppled

2007 January - Mr Bainimarama restores executive powers to President Iloilo and takes on the role of interim prime minister.

2007 February - Mr Bainimarama announces plans to hold elections in 2010.

2007 April - Mr Bainimarama sacks the Great Council of Chiefs and suspends all future meetings, after the chiefs refuse to endorse his government and his nomination for vice president.

2007 June - State of emergency lifted but reimposed in September. Lifted again in October.

2007 November - Mr Bainimarama says police have foiled a plot to assassinate him.

2008 February - Mr Bainimarama appoints himself as chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs (GCC), a body he suspended after it failed to back his December 2006 coup.

2008 July - Mr Bainimarama postpones elections promised for early 2009, on the grounds that electoral reforms could not be completed in time.

2008 August - South Pacific leaders warn Fiji that it faces suspension from their regional grouping if it fails to show progress towards holding elections.

2009 January - Pacific leaders demand Fiji hold elections by the end of the year.

Constitution repealed

2009 April - Appeal Court rules the military regime was illegally appointed after the 2006 coup and says a caretaker prime minister should be appointed to call elections to restore democracy.

President Iloilo repeals the constitution, appoints himself head of state, sets a 2014 election deadline and sacks all the judges. He then reappoints military chief Frank Bainimarama as interim prime minister. Martial law is imposed.

2009 May - South Pacific nations suspend Fiji from the Pacific Islands Forum regional bloc for its failure to hold elections.

2009 July - Military ruler Frank Bainimarama unveils plans for a new constitution by 2013, ahead of elections in 2014. He says that under the proposed changes, the ethnic-based system introduced in 1997 will be scrapped.

President Iloilo steps down, succeeded on an interim basis by Vice-President Epeli Nailatikau.

Suspension from Commonwealth

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Image caption,
Political allegiances mirror ethnic divisions

2009 September - The Commonwealth fully suspends Fiji after the refusal of the military government to bow to demands to call elections by 2010. It is only the second full suspension in the organisation's history.

2010 March - A court jails eight men for attempting to kill Commodore Bainimarama in 2007. Critics say the eight did not have a fair hearing.

2010 October - Fiji authorities admit to losing legal document confirming independence from the United Kingdom.

2011 August - Government orders cancellation of annual conference of Fijian Methodist Church - which has been highly critical of the interim military-led regime - saying that its leadership is too political.

2012 January - Military ruler Frank Bainimarama announces lifting of martial law and says that consultations on a new constitution will begin in February.

2012 July - Australia and New Zealand agree to restore full diplomatic ties with Fiji after Commodore Bainimarama agrees to call elections by 2014.

2012 August - Ousted former prime minister Laisenia Qarase is jailed for a year on corruption charges dating back to his time as head of a state investment company in the 1990s.

2013 September - New constitution introduced, paving the way for elections.

2014 September - Forty five Fijian peacekeepers are held hostage for more than two weeks by Islamist militants in the Golan Heights in Syria.

Frank Bainimarama becomes the country's civilian leader after winning parliamentary elections.

Commonwealth re-instates Fiji as a full member.

2014 September - The United Nations says 45 captured peacekeepers from Fiji have been released in the Golan Heights in Syria after being held for two weeks by rebels from the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front.

2014 December - An annual international survey of world happiness lists Fiji as the happiest nation in the world, according to polling organisation WIN/Gallup.

2015 January - After decades of campaigning, Fijian military veterans receive financial compensation for their exposure to radiation from British nuclear tests carried out on Christmas Islands in the late 1950s.

2015 February - Fiji confirms plans to change its flag to remove the Union Jack, saying the existing design includes symbols which are out of date and rooted in a colonial past.

2015 August - Police reportedly arrest more than 50 people suspected of plotting to form a breakaway Christian state on Fiji's main island of Viti Levu.

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama threatens long prison sentences for people he says are plotting to overthrow his government.

2016 February - At least 42 people are killed and tens of thousands are left homeless as Cyclone Winston hits Fiji in the worst storm ever recorded in the southern hemisphere.

2016 February - Fiji becomes the first country in the world to formally approve the UN climate deal after its parliament ratifies the Paris agreement.

2016 August - Fiji reverses plans to change its flag saying the cost to remove the Union Jack as a symbol of its colonial past was too great and should be directed at recovery work in the wake of Cyclone Winston.

2016 December - Amnesty International calls on the government in Fiji to withdraw soldiers from police duties, citing several allegations of torture against civilians under arrest.