Europeans in Oceania


[oh-shee-an-ee-uh, -ah-nee-uh]

Population 32,000,000 (6th)
Time Zones UTC+8 (Australian Western Standard Time) to UTC-6 (Easter Island) (West to East)

Oceania (sometimes Oceanica) is a geographical, often geopolitical, region consisting of numerous lands—mostly islands in the Pacific Ocean and vicinity. The term "Oceania" was coined in 1831 by French explorer Dumont d'Urville. The term is used today in many languages to define one of the continents and is one of eight terrestrial ecozones.

Ethnologically, the islands that are included in Oceania are divided into the subregions of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.

The boundaries of Oceania are defined in a number of ways. Most definitions recognize New Zealand, parts of Australasia such as Australia and New Guinea, and all or part of the Malay Archipelago as belonging to Oceania.


Oceania is traditionally understood as being comprised of three regions: Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia. As with any region, however, interpretations vary; increasingly, geographers and scientists divide Oceania into Near Oceania and Remote Oceania.

Most of Oceania consists of island nations composed of thousands of coral atolls and volcanic islands, with small human populations. Australia is the only continental country but Indonesia has land borders with Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and Malaysia. If the Australia-New Guinea continent is included then the highest point is Puncak Jaya in Papua at and the lowest point is Lake Eyre, Australia at below sea level.


Descriptions of the regions and constituents of Oceania vary according to source. The table below shows the subregions and countries of Oceania as broadly categorised according to the scheme for geographic subregions used by the United Nations. The information shown follows sources in cross-referenced articles; where sources differ, provisos have been clearly indicated. These territories and regions are subject to various additional categorisations, of course, depending on the source and purpose of each description.

Name of region, followed by countries
and their flags
(1 July 2002 estimate)
Population density
(per km²)
7,686,850 21,050,000 2.7 Canberra
(Australia) 135 1,493 3.5 Flying Fish Cove
(Australia) 14 632 45.1 West Island
268,680 4,108,037 14.5 Wellington
(Australia) 35 1,866 53.3 Kingston
18,270 856,346 46.9 Suva
(Oceanian part only) 499,852 4,211,532 8.4 Jakarta
(France) 19,060 207,858 10.9 Nouméa
462,840 5,172,033 11.2 Port Moresby
28,450 494,786 17.4 Honiara
12,200 196,178 16.1 Port Vila
702 135,869 193.5 Palikir
(USA) 549 160,796 292.9 Hagåtña
811 96,335 118.8 South Tarawa
181 73,630 406.8 Majuro
21 12,329 587.1 Yaren
(USA) 477 77,311 162.1 Saipan
458 19,409 42.4 Melekeok
Wake Island (USA) 2 Wake Island
(USA) 199 68,688 345.2 Pago Pago, Fagatogo
Austral Islands 148 6,310 48 Rurutu
Chatham Islands (NZ) 966 609 3.2 Waitangi
(NZ) 240 20,811 86.7 Avarua
Easter Island (Chile) 163.6 3,791 23.1 Hanga Roa
(France) 3,961 257,847 61.9 Papeete
Gambier Islands 31 986 14.1 Rikitea
Hawaii (USA) 10,931 1,283,388 188.6 Honolulu
Juan Fernández Islands (Chile) 181 598 3.3 San Juan Bautista
Loyalty Islands (France) 1,981 22,080 11.14
Marquesas 1,049 8,632 8 Taiohae
(NZ) 260 2,134 8.2 Alofi
(UK) 5 47 10 Adamstown
Rotuma 44 2,095 8.2 Rotuma
2,944 214,265 60.7 Apia
Swains Island (American Samoa) 1.5 37 0.3 Taulaga
(NZ) 10 1,431 143.1
748 106,137 141.9 Nukualofa
Tuamotu Islands 800 14,846 18 Rangiroa
26 11,146 428.7 Funafuti
(France) 274 15,585 56.9 Mata-Utu
Total 9,008,458 35,834,670 4.0
Total minus mainland Australia 1,321,608 14,784,670 11.2

See Also: List of Oceanian countries by population

Interpretative details and controversies

  • New Zealand is the western corner of the Polynesian triangle. Its indigenous Māori constitute one of the major cultures of Polynesia. It is also, however, considered part of Australasia.
  • Hawaii is the northern corner of the Polynesian triangle and is generally included in Oceania, though politically it is part of the United States. The Hawaiian language is a Polynesian member of the Oceanic language family, and Hawaiian culture is one of the major cultures of Polynesia.
  • The U.S. territories in the North Pacific are generally considered part of Oceania.
  • Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, is the eastern corner of the Polynesian triangle. A Polynesian island in the eastern Pacific Ocean and part of the territory of Chile, it is generally included in Oceania, in which case the most easterly place in Polynesia and Oceania is its dependency Sala y Gómez 415 km to the East.
  • The line in Indonesia dividing Oceania from Asia varies in location and is sometimes considered to be the Wallace Line. See the transcontinental country article.
  • East Timor is often reckoned as a part of Oceania due to its location to the east of the Wallace Line and its cultural ties to Pacific peoples. See transcontinental country; Biogeographically, East Timor lies within Wallacea, an ecological transition zone between Asia and Australasia. This transition is less known and less favoured these days as a continental boundary.
  • Australia is sometimes not included in Oceania. Terms such as Pacific Islands or South Sea Islands might be used to describe Oceania without Australia (and New Zealand). The term "Australasia" invariably includes Australia, and usually includes New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and some other parts of Oceania. This term is sometimes controversial, though, as it may may be interpreted as implying an association with Asia — a separate continent — or too great an association with Australia. The term is actually derived from the word "Austral", meaning "of, relating to, or coming from the south". This word represents the common root of both names: Australia and Australasia.
  • Although Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands belong to the Commonwealth of Australia, they are west of Sumatra and are commonly associated with Asia, and not with Oceania.
  • In its widest sense, the term may embrace the entire insular region between Asia and the Americas, thereby including other islands in the Pacific rim such as the Ryukyu, Kuril and Aleutian islands, the Japanese Archipelago and Taiwan.


Oceania is one of eight terrestrial ecozones, which constitute the major ecological regions of the planet. The Oceania ecozone includes all of Micronesia, Fiji, and all of Polynesia except New Zealand. New Zealand, along with New Guinea and nearby islands, Australia, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia, constitute the separate Australasia ecozone.


Pacific Games

The Pacific Games (formerly known as the South Pacific Games) is a multi-sport event, much like the Olympics, (albeit on a much smaller scale), with participation exclusively from countries around the Pacific. It is held every four years and began in 1963.


The Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) is one of six association football confederations under the auspices of FIFA, the international governing body of the sport. The OFC is the only confederation without an automatic qualification to the World Cup Finals. Currently the winner of the OFC qualification tournament must play-off against an Asian confederation side to qualify for the World Cup.

Oceania has only been represented at three World Cup Finals — Australia in 1974 plus 2006 and New Zealand in 1982. However, Australia is now no longer a member of the Oceania Football Confederation, having joined the Asian Football Confederation in 2006.

See also


External links

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