Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Rotuma (including the islands of Hatana , Hofliua , Rotuma, Solkope , Solnohu and Uea ) are volcanic islands of approximately 43 square kilometers, located at , approximately 465 kilometers north of Fiji.
A favorite of whaling ships in need of reprovisioning, in the mid-nineteenth century Rotuma became a haven for runaway sailors, some of whom were escaped convicts. Some of these deserters married local women and contributed their genes to an already heterogeneous pool; others met violent ends, reportedly at one anothers' hands.
In the 1840s both Roman Catholics and Wesleyans established missions on the island. Conflicts between the two groups, fueled by previous political rivalries among the chiefs of Rotuma's seven districts, resulted in hostilities that led the local chiefs in 1879 to ask Britain to annex the island group. On May 13, 1881, seven years after Fiji became a colony, Rotuma was officially ceded to the United Kingdom. The colonial legacy can still be seen today in the variety of old churches that dot the landscape. Rotumans are culturally conservative and maintain their customs in the face of changes brought about by increased contact with the outside world.
Although the island has been politically part of Fiji since 1881, Rotuman culture more closely resembles that of the Polynesian islands to the east, most noticeably Tonga, Samoa, Futuna, and Uvea. Because of their Polynesian appearance and distinctive language, Rotumans now constitute a recognizable minority group within the Republic of Fiji. Fijian citizens of Rotuman descent elect one representative to the Fijian House of Representatives, and the Council of Rotuma nominates one representative to the Fijian Senate.
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