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FIRST STAMPS ISSUED 1 November 1870.



1870, sterling.
1964, 100 cents = 1 dollar.

Group of islands in the Pacific situated on the international dateline, which deviates to ensure that the date remains the same throughout the islands. Although the group was known to the Dutch in the 17th century, it was not explored until visited by Cook in 1773. Escaped convicts from Australia helped to settle parts of the group in the early 19th century.

Although there was an attempt to gain British protection in the middle of the 19th century, it was not until 1874 that Britain accepted unconditional cession of the group and it became a Crown Colony, having been a protectorate for four years.

In 1966 the move towards independence began with the creation of a Legislative Assembly. Full independence followed on 10 October 1970.A coalition under Dr Bavandra won a general election in April 1987, but was overthrown by the military on 14 May. Attempts were made to reconcile the native melanesians and the Indian immigrants but to no avail and Fiji was declared a republic and membership of the Commonwealth lapsed.

Following constitutional changes in 1997, Fiji was readmitted to the Commonwealth on 1 October 1997. Further elections were held in May 1999 and Mahendra Chaudhry became the first ethnic Indian prime minister.

Postal History
Before the establishment of the British protectorate, mail was carried by trading vessels to Sydney and placed in the post there. In 1870 the proprietors of the Fiji Times instituted an efficient letter and parcel service. This was not accepted by the British Consul, who tried to close it in 1871, and appointed an official postmaster. The government postal service was more expensive, but on 8 May 1872 the Fiji Times closed its service stating that it had '... received notice from the Fiji Government to discontinue the receipt and despatch of inter-island correspondence'

On 3 December 1871 the government issued the first stamps with the cypher of King Kakobau and established their own service. The first Post Office Act was passed soon afterwards, and the stamps were overprinted with VR in 1874 when Fiji became a Crown Colony.

Fiji joined the UPU in 1891 at the same time as the Australian colonies. The currency of Fiji was complicated by the fact that the stamps and postage rates were in sterling while the locals used dollars and cents. The two different currencies had to be quoted on Post Office notices.

Before Fiji became a member of the UPU, stamps were not accepted for prepayment outside the colony, though a special agreement must have existed between the islands and Australia and New Zealand.

During World War II Fiji was used as a base and in 1940 the Local Defence Force was strengthened by the addition of New Zealand troops. Forces PO marks were used in the islands. Mails of the Fijian forces were also active in the Solomons with the New Zealand forces.

In 1950 there 57 POs in Fiji. The first stamps of the newly independent country were issued on independence day, 10 October 1970.

South-West Pacific to 1920
Click map for larger view

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