The capital of Lautoka with its palm-line streets and 100-old banyan trees was easy to explore since the town center was only 20-minute walk from the ship dock. The main part of the small city was about six blocks long and three blocks wide. It was apparent from the inset that this was definitely a tourist town.
The Colonial Sugar Refining Company of Australia (CSR) opened a cemtralized sugar mill Laukota in 1903, as well as a jetty for off-loading the sugar. The company began operations in 1882 with the opening of the Nausori Mill. Later other mills were established. The company set up large scale sugar cane plantation farming, centralized milling, and began worldwide distribution of sugar.
The company brought indentured cheap labor from India to work in the sugar industry. Eventually, 60,000 Indians were on Fiji working the plantations. In 1920, the laborers were freed and a large percentage of the Indians stayed un Fiji creating the multi-cultural environment which exists today. The so-called Kanak or black-birded labor from the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and other Pacific Islands were an integral part of the labor force for CSR during its early days.
Local legend has it that the chiefs of two tribes in the area got into a no-holds barred fight due to rising tensions. One chief speared the other, screaming victoriously Lau-Toka." It meant "spear hit" or "hit to win." That's how the city got its name.
Anthrpologists believe Fiji's original inhabitants came from Southeast Asia via the Malay Penninsula more than 3, 500 years ago, long. A complex Fijian society existed long before Europeans arrived.
After an early sighting by Dutch navigator, Abel Tasman, in 1643, Fiji was explored and charted by Captain James Cook in 1774. This eventually led to European settlement in the mid-19th century. In 1874, Fiji was ceded to Britain in 1874.