Though the islands of Fiji were first visited by Abel Tasman in the mid-17th century, it was not until 1874 that the region was made a British crown colony. To work the enormous sugar plantations, the British brought in so many Indians, that the indigenous population soon was outnumbered by those of Indian heritage. In 1970, Fiji was declared an independent parliamentary democracy with most of the power resting in the hands of the Fijian minority. Seventeen years later, the Indian party came to power but was ousted in a military coup almost immediately. Lt. Col. Sitiveni Rabuka took over the government; five years later he became prime minister. A new constitution was adopted that guaranteed ethnic Fijians the majority of seats in the legislature. In May 1999, new elections brought another Indo-Fijian candidate to the premiership but simmering resentments came to the boiling point a year later when ethnic Fijians overthrew the government.