a republic consisting of an island group in melanesia, in the southwest pacific ocean. Its capital is suva. It was discovered by abel tasman in 1643 and was visited by captain cook in 1774. It was used by escaped convicts from australia as early as 1804. It was annexed by great britain in 1874 but achieved independence in 1970. The name fiji is of uncertain origin. In its present form it may represent that of viti, the main island in the group.