Australasia

Australasia

[aw-struh-ley-zhuh, -shuh]
Australasia, islands of the South Pacific, including Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, and adjacent islands. The term is sometimes used to include all of Oceania.

Australasia is a region of Oceania: New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea, and neighbouring islands in the Pacific Ocean. The term was coined by Charles de Brosses in Histoire des navigations aux terres australes (1756). He derived it from the Latin for "south of Asia" and differentiated the area from Polynesia (to the east) and the southeast Pacific (Magellanica). It is also distinct from Micronesia (to the northeast).

Human geography

Geopolitically, Australasia is sometimes used as a term for New Zealand and Australia together, in the absence of another word limited to those two countries. Sometimes Papua New Guinea is encompassed by the term. There are many organizations whose names are prefixed with "(Royal) Australasian Society" that are limited to just New Zealand and Australia.

In the past, Australasia has been used as a name for combined Australia/New Zealand sporting teams. Examples include tennis between 1905 and 1915, when New Zealand and Australia combined its best players to compete in the Davis Cup international tournament (and won it in 1907, 1908, 1909, 1911 and 1914), and at the Olympic Games of 1908 and 1912. Australasia also competed in the 1911 Festival of Empire in London, the precursor of the Commonwealth Games.

Ecological geography

From an ecological perspective the Australasia ecozone is a distinct region with a common evolutionary history and a great many unique flora and fauna. In this context, Australasia is limited to Australia, New Guinea, and neighbouring islands, including the Indonesian islands from Lombok and Sulawesi eastward. The biological dividing line from Asia is the Wallace lineBorneo and Bali lie on the western, Asian side. New Zealand comprises another ecological zone altogether, as it had been isolated from the rest of the world, including the rest of Australasia, for even longer.

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