Rotuma is the only administrative unit in Fiji with autonomous status. It includes the eponymous island and a group of small islands of volcanic origin, lying 300 miles (465 kilometres) north of Fiji, near the crossing of the conventional boundaries of Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia. As early as in 1927 the Rotuma Act was adopted, which gave the island self-government (it was amended several times subsequently). After Fiji gained independence in 1970, the Island Council assumed responsibility for the internal management of Rotuma.
The majority of the Rotuma population - the Rotumans - are mostly similar in ethnicity to the Polynesians of Samoa and Tonga, but speak a language that is commonly referred to as Melanesian. Rotuma became an administrative unit of Fiji only in the end of the 19th century under the colonial rule of British Empire. Therefore the historical legacies of the Rotumans and Fijians differ substantially. Rotumans also diverge from other Fijian peoples anthropologically. Rotuman language at the islands has the official status.