Fiji is a group of over 300 islands in the southern Pacific Ocean and was first settled about 3,000 years ago by speakers of Austronesian languages. More intensive contact with Europeans started in the 1830s, after the arrival of missionaries. In 1874 Fiji became a British colony. Today, the overall population of 800,000 comprises 51% indigenous Fijians and 44% Indo-Fijians (the descendants of indentured labourers brought from India). During colonial times, English was established as a neutral lingua franca, remained an official language after independence in 1970, and still prevails in most official spheres. Nearly all Fiji Islanders speak English as a second language, only 1% to 3% of the population speak it as their first language. Pure Fiji English, the variety most removed from the norm, is noticeably influenced by the first languages of its speakers, Fijian and Hindi, especially in the domain of phonology.