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The national anthem is based on a Fijian hymn, but the words are in English.Government offices, police and military uniforms still display the British crown, while the currency (the Fijian dollar) continues to bear a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Indigenous Fijians are descended from the Lapita peoples, a seafaring group from eastern Indonesia or the Philippines who probably arrived in the Fiji Islands during the second millennium and later interbred first with Melanesians from the west and subsequently with Polynesians (also Lapita descendants) from the east.After their term of service, many remained in Fiji.Some became merchants and business-people, others remained on the land as free peasant cultivators.Fijian and Hindi often are spoken at home and are used in religious contexts and on radio and television.The indigenous languages belong to the Central Oceanic branch of Eastern Austronesian and are divided into eastern and western branches.
Much of the original savanna was turned into sugarcane plantations during the colonial period. In the nineteenth century, epidemic diseases decimated the indigenous population, and the arrival of South Asian workers beginning in 1879 caused Fijians to become temporarily a minority in the islands from the late 1930s to the late 1980s.
The Republic of the Fiji Islands is a multicultural island nation with cultural traditions of Oceanic, European, South Asian, and East Asian origins.
Immigrants have accepted several aspects of the indigenous culture, but a national culture has not evolved.
Before European contact, Fijian social organization featured (as it still does) patrilineal clans, subclans, and lineages, and by the nineteenth century there were forty chiefdoms, twelve of which dominated the political scene.
During the nineteenth century there was an influx of European beachcombers, traders, planters, and missionaries.