Oceania is a territory, mainly insular, located in the central and southern parts of the Pacific Ocean.

In addition to the mainland of Australia, which is usually excluded from the concept of Oceania, and several large islands, the geographical territory is defined by hundreds of small islands and archipelagos located on a significant water area.

Oceania is associated with coral and volcanic islands, atolls, lagoons, the sun, palm trees and snow-white beaches. The ethnographic features of the region are interesting.

There are 4 large regions in Oceania with unclear borders: Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.



New Zealand
Papua New Guinea
Federated States of Micronesia
Marshall Islands
Solomon islands

Other territories
American Samoa
Cook Islands
New Caledonia
Norfolk Island
Easter Island
Pitcairn Islands
Northern Mariana Islands
Wallis and Futuna
French Polynesia

Coconut islands


Getting here

By plane
Please refer to the country articles for detailed information on how you enter.

The main countries of Australia and New Zealand offer connections from all inhabited continents, including some direct flights from South America and South Africa. The main air hubs in the region are located in Sydney (SYD IATA), Melbourne (MEL IATA), Auckland (AKL IATA), Brisbane (BNE IATA) and Perth (PERIATA). There are other gateways that offer opportunities to enter and interesting itineraries. Air France connects New Caledonia directly with Tokyo and Paris and also flies to Tahiti. Further connections to Sydney and Auckland are possible. Fiji Airways connects Nadi (NAN IATA) with Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore, with subsequent connections to Australia, New Zealand and other Pacific island nations. Tahiti is connected to Los Angeles and you can fly to the Cook Islands directly from there. Air New Zealand offers a service to Tonga and Samoa from Los Angeles and Auckland. The Los Angeles service is subsidized by the New Zealand government as a form of aid to the two countries. Manila, Guam and Honolulu offer a gateway to many Micronesian countries, mainly through United Airlines. Air Niugini also operates flights from Port Moresby (POM IATA) to Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo.

Qantas operates the only non-stop flight between Oceania and Europe, between London Heathrow and Perth.

Smaller islands with less tourism present additional challenges to get to. Many are completely deserted and some have access restrictions.

By boat
Several South Pacific cruises traverse the vast ocean, but some berths are available to the patient traveler on bulk freighters or container ships plying the trade routes. The distances are huge, since the Pacific Ocean is larger than the entire land mass of the planet.


Travel around the continent

By plane
Without a yacht, and with a lot of time, the only way for travelers to move between the main destinations in Oceania is by plane. Auckland, Brisbane and Sydney have good connectivity to the region. It is usually possible to fly from the west coast of the United States to Sydney or Auckland via Hawaii, Tahiti, Fiji or even the Cook Islands. Nadi (NANIATA) Airport in Fiji serves as the main air hub for the Pacific islands, so flying to other Pacific island nations would probably require a change of aircraft there.

However, air routes tend to come and go depending on whether airlines find them profitable or not. Much of English-speaking Polynesia receives regular Air New Zealand flights. Melanesia is mainly served by domestic and Australian airlines. Fiji Airways also has a relatively good network of flights from its hub in Nadi to the other Pacific island nations. Do not expect daily flights. Patience is required.

Flying between Micronesia and the other two areas is problematic and may involve flying as far as Honolulu or a complicated route via Manila, Sydney and Auckland.

Some flight options within Oceania, among others, are:

Guam has connections to the United States, Japan and a generally very expensive connection to Cairns in Far North Queensland.
The Cook Islands have connections to Tahiti.
Tahiti has flights to Auckland.
Fiji has connections with Tahiti, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Tuvalu, Kiribati and Vanuatu.
Samoa has good connections with Auckland and Sydney, as well as weekly connections with Fiji and Hawaii. Air connections between Samoa and American Samoa are more reliable than sea transit between these neighbors.
The Solomon Islands has connections with Fiji and Vanuatu.
Vanuatu has connections with Fiji and New Caledonia.
New Caledonia has flights to Auckland.
The Tonga-Samoa-Fiji triangle is quite well connected, although there is currently only one flight per week each way between Samoa and Tonga.
By boat
There are some options for boats, cruises, private yachts, adventure cruises and even cargo ships.

Check the guide of the destination you are visiting.



Many indigenous languages are spoken throughout Oceania and, with the exception of the Australian aboriginal languages, most of these languages belong to the Austronesian language family, which also includes other languages such as Malay, Indonesian and Tagalog.

Due to a history of British and American colonization, English is the dominant language in Australia and New Zealand, and a common second language in much of the Pacific Islands, with the exceptions of French-ruled New Caledonia and French Polynesia. In some areas, such as Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu, English-based Creoles are co-official with standard English and can be difficult for foreigners to understand, although educated locals can almost always switch to standard English if necessary. French is naturally the main language in New Caledonia and French Polynesia, while Hindi is also spoken by a significant minority in Fiji, mainly those of Indian descent.


What to see

All the island groups are fascinating and with time and money you can spend months traveling. There are some incredibly beautiful islands (Samoa, Cook Islands, French Polynesia), some fascinating cultures and festivals, wonderful diving and totally deserted beaches.



Colonial influences and history

With histories dominated by colonization, almost all destinations provide travelers with the opportunity to explore the often gloomy, but also interesting stories of the past.



There is a unique wildlife to discover in the region. Australia and Papua New Guinea are home to marsupials, the mammal species that include adorable favorites like kangaroos, koalas, wombats and possums, and also the Tasmanian devil. Here you will also find the monotremes, in the species of platypus and echidnas, the only mammals in the world that lay eggs.

In New Zealand, you may stumble upon (or more easily, see in human-made installations) the shy and mostly nocturnal kiwi, a flightless bird that has given the people of the country its nickname. Other flightless birds include the takahe, which was thought extinct until 1949, and the kakapo (night parrot). Other evolutionary oddities include the ancient tuatara, bats that hunt on the ground, and frogs that don't croak. A quarter of the world's seabirds breed in the New Zealand region.

Marine life is abundant and diverse everywhere and one of the main reasons why travelers explore this part of the world. Tropical fish and colorful reefs are the perfect combination for divers and snorkelers, but you can also see a lot from the deck of a boat. You have the opportunity to see larger animals such as manta rays, dolphins and even whales.

In South Australia and New Zealand, seals, sea lions and penguins can be seen in their natural habitat, with Kangaroo Island, Phillip Island, the Otago Coast and Stewart Island being the popular sites.


Remembrance of the Pacific War

The Pacific scenario of World War II involved land, sea and air battles between the Axis (mainly Japan) and the Allies (mainly the United States and Australia), from 1941 to 1945.

The remains of the war can be seen in many places, such as Kokoda Track in New Guinea.



Cricket is a popular sport in Australia and New Zealand, and is usually played during the summer.

Rugby union is one of the most popular sports in Oceania, with rugby being the dominant code in New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa, and rugby league dominating in Australia and Papua New Guinea. In international competition, New Zealand is widely regarded as the undisputed kings of rugby union, while Australia occupies the same position in rugby league.


What to do

Swinging the hammock

The pristine white sandy beaches found throughout the South Pacific are ideal for relaxing and enjoying peace and tranquility.


Diving and snorkeling

There are places to dive all over Oceania. In search of tropical corals and fish, explore the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, the Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia, Fiji has some reefs around Nadi and spectacular brightly colored virgin corals on the most remote islands. Samoa is the favorite of divers. The Cook Islands have accessible reefs right off the beach on the main islands. Vanuatu also has accessible reefs, but the facilities make it more difficult to access than Fiji. There are also diving opportunities in the temperate waters of Tasmania and New Zealand.

There are good opportunities to dive to the shipwrecks. The Rainbow Warrior from the North Island of New Zealand is one of the most famous, and the oceans of Micronesia have many interesting relics from the Second World War. The atolls of the Marshall and Bikini Islands are known as a ship graveyard, and offer some of the most interesting shipwrecks in the world, including submarines and the only aircraft carrier accessible to divers. However, most shipwreck sites are not for beginners.



Vava'u in Tonga is a popular destination for yachts crossing the Pacific. Yachts can also be rented there.



Being an ocean area, there are countless opportunities for great fishing experiences.


Hiking and trekking

Australia and New Zealand are home to some very important and famous hiking trails, for example, those of the Flinders Ranges, Abel Tasman and Tongariro National Parks. The rugged and volcanic landscapes of many of the Pacific islands also offer good opportunities.


Adventure sports

New Zealand has become famous for being a place with a well-developed infrastructure for almost any type of adventure and extreme sports. In addition to being the birthplace of commercial bungy-jumping, you will also find skydiving, paragliding, rafting, motor boating, rock climbing, cave exploration and a long list of what seem like self-invented combinations. North Queensland and Tasmania also have plenty of opportunities. In addition, the Blue Mountains near Sydney are ideal for climbing, canyoning and hiking.

The volcanoes and many caves found along the Pacific islands are also suitable for adventurous exploration, and the many tropical islands are perhaps even prettier when observed gliding over them.


Skiing and winter sports

Although it's not the first thing that comes to mind, there are snow sports in the southern part of Oceania. New Zealand has reliable winter snowfall and between 10 and 12 ski areas, mainly on the South Island. These include Treble Cone and Cardrona (Wanaka), The Remarkables and Coronet Peak (Queenstown), Mt Hutt near Christchurch and Whakapapa and Turoa at Mt Ruapehu in the North Island. Many Olympic and racing teams from the northern Hemisphere train in New Zealand during the northern summer. The Snowy Mountains of New South Wales have the largest ski resorts in the Southern Hemisphere.



Although staples from outside the region, such as rice and flour, now have a firm foothold, traditional root and tuber staples are still very important. The cheapest is usually cassava, which also plays a role in food safety, since it can be left on the ground for a long time. The sweet potato is a very important crop and is found in most of Oceania, the main producing area being the highlands of Papua New Guinea. Taro and yam are also widespread. The latter is the most valuable of the roots and tubers and there are many customs associated with its cultivation. In the Sepik area of Papua New Guinea, for example, sexual relations between married couples are supposed to be prohibited while yams are growing. On the other hand, in the Trobriand Islands the yam harvest is a period of sexual freedom.

In Australia and New Zealand, the food culture is very similar to that of Europe and North America. However, there are still some unique dishes and ingredients to be found, some known to the native inhabitants before the arrival of Europeans, and others invented in more recent times. Thanks to recent immigration, Asian dishes and restaurants are also widely available and popular.



Kava is a drink produced from the roots of a plant related to the pepper plant and found mainly in Polynesia, as well as in Fiji and Vanuatu. It has a slightly narcotic effect. Other names include 'awa (Hawaii),'ava (Samoa), yaqona (Fiji) and sakau (Pohnpei). It is traditionally prepared by chewing, crushing or crushing the roots of the kava plant. In Tonga, traditionally chewing had to be performed by virgin women. The strike is performed on a large stone with a small trunk. Then the product is added to cold water and consumed as quickly as possible, invariably as part of a group of people sitting and sharing the cup. However, check the rules before taking any out of the country, as importing kava may be illegal.

If you are interested in wine tourism, head to Australia or New Zealand. The first is one of the largest wine producers in the Southern Hemisphere.



With the exception of Australia and New Zealand, which are quite secular, all the countries of Oceania are strongly conservative Christian moral societies. As such, expect all businesses to be closed on Sundays, when virtually the entire country would be at church. If you are there on a Sunday, going to church would usually be a good opportunity to mingle with the locals. Hinduism is followed by many ethnic Indians in Fiji.



Almost all of Oceania is safe for visitors, with the exception of Papua New Guinea, which remains a tourist destination only for the most adventurous. In particular, Port Moresby has one of the highest violent crime rates in the world.



Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea have areas where malaria is a risk. Fiji, New Caledonia, the Cook Islands, Samoa and the other islands are malaria-free.

Dengue fever, chikungunya and the Zika virus are increasingly present in tropical areas. Avoid mosquito bites day and night, especially during an outbreak.

The islands may be remote, but sexual diseases know no borders. The usual precautions apply.



The term was coined by the French geographer Conrad Malte-Brun in 1812 as Océanie, coming from océan (ocean in French) which, in turn, derives from the ancient Greek Ōkeanós (κεανός), combined with the Latin suffix -ia, based on its cognate of the ancient Greek -ία, -εια which is used to designate abstract feminine nouns.​ The meaning of its name is based on the fact that its territory is composed of thousands of small islands scattered in the largest ocean on the planet.




The first human settlers of Oceania came from Southeast Asia. From them descend the current Papuans and native Australians, who probably must have reached the Sahul continent using primitive rafts. The oldest fossil remains could be those of the Mungo man in New South Wales (Australia), with about 42,000 years old, as well as the Bobongara archaeological remains on the Huon Peninsula (Papua New Guinea), with about 40,000 years old.​ On the other hand, archaeological evidence of the use of plants in the mountains of New Guinea and population genetic tests on Australian and Papuan natives agree that the settlement of Sahul should have taken place about 46,000 years ago.

The island of New Ireland (Melanesia) would have been colonized 33,000 years ago and Buka Island (Northern Solomon Islands) 28,000 years ago.​ 18,000 years ago New Guinea and Australia formed a single landmass populated by humans, later sea level rise isolated the populations into three groups: New Guinea, Australia and Tasmania (in addition to a few smaller islands). These populations evolved separately under divergent ecological conditions and developed independent cultural patterns.



Evidence has been found of the emergence of agriculture about 10,000 years ago, as well as especially 7,000 years ago, as observed in the mountains of New Guinea, where the tuber vegetable taro, pumpkins and bananas would have been cultivated.

The next wave of human migration was that of the Austronesians, also of Asian origin and coming from Insulindia. This Austronesian presence in Oceania is archaeologically attested as early as the second millennium BC, when it occupied basically regions within Melanesia. The Bismarck Archipelago was colonized between 1300 and 1500 BC by Austronesian potters (ceramists), fishermen and farmers; there was a progressive expansion throughout Oceania, so that they would have reached Hawaii and New Zealand during the first millennium AD.; and the last major island to be colonized was Easter Island in the second millennium.


Dominion of the Tongan Empire

In 950 A.D. the Tu'i Tonga Empire dominated most of the islands of Oceania. In the beginning, the kings managed to get rid of foreign rule and consolidate the power of the empire in what is now Tonga. Around the year 1200 began its expansion until about 1500. The empire conquered what is now known as Fiji, parts of Samoa and other Polynesian islands such as the Cook Islands and Niue. The great skill to build canoes and the good system applied to invasions made it easier for Tu'i Tonga to settle on even more islands.

By the year 1500, many problems broke out in the royalty of the empire, which weakened its figure in the colonies, which achieved a lot of autonomy from the royal crown and the central power. In 1799, Tuku'aho, the king who held the power at that time, was assassinated, which unleashed a terrible civil war. Already with the European presence, the civil war ended up devastating both sides, leaving the empire decimated in the hands of the British crown.


 European colonization and exploration

The Spaniards were the first to cross the Pacific Ocean and the islands of Oceania. The expedition of Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Marianas in 1521 and other islands of the Pacific. After Magellan's death in the Philippines, Juan Sebastián Elcano took command of the expedition, which would eventually circumnavigate the world. Soon after, the Portuguese explored the region: in 1525 they discovered the Carolinas and, the following year, New Guinea. Between 1525 and 1527 several Spanish expeditions discovered the Marshall Islands and the Admiralty Islands and in 1568 the Tuvalu Islands, the Solomon Islands and Wake Island. In 1595 another Spanish expedition discovered the Marquesas and the Cook Islands. In 1606, the Spanish expedition of Quiros discovered the Pitcairn Islands and the New Hebrides, whose main island they baptized with the name of the Australia of the Holy Spirit, believing that they had reached the Terra Australis. Despite being located in the New Hebrides, the name "Australia" has survived to this day to refer to that great island. The Dutch toured the coast of Australia in 1642 and discovered Tasmania, the Tonga Islands, Fiji and Bismark. Meanwhile, for two and a half centuries, the Spanish route of the Manila Galleon traveled the Pacific in both directions, linking the ports of Acapulco and Manila between 1565 and 1815.

In the eighteenth century, the British and French joined the exploration of Oceania. Between 1764 and 1770, the British toured Tahiti, Samoa, Solomon Islands and New Hebrides. Between 1772 and 1774, Spanish sailors arrived in Tahiti and discovered several islands of the Tuamotu archipelago. Between 1768 and 1779, English sailors also reached the Society Islands, New Zealand, the Marquesas, New Hebrides and Hawaii. The French explored the islands in parallel to the British. All these trips determined the subsequent division of Oceania between Great Britain and France, as well as Spain that had been in the Philippines and the Marianas for several centuries.

In 1831, Jules Dumont d'Urville divided the islands of Oceania into Melanesia, Micronesia, Insulindia and Polynesia, which together with Australia make up the traditional division of the continent.


Independence of the islands

At the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century, the desire for independence began in the British colonies of Australia and New Zealand, which, in 1901 and 1907 respectively, opened the way to the other countries towards independence.

The weakest and poorest countries were only able to declare themselves independent during the second half of the twentieth century. In 1962, Samoa declared its independence from New Zealand, which had occupied it years earlier; then followed Nauru in 1968, Fiji and Tonga in 1970, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu in 1978, the Federated States of Micronesia and Kiribati in 1979 (although recognized in 1990 for Micronesia), Vanuatu in 1980, the Marshall Islands in 1990 and Palau in 1994 followed them in the process of freedom.

These nations formed the Pacific Islands Forum to try to help countries that are still under the mandate of powers, such as Guam, held by the United States, and New Caledonia and French Polynesia, both held by France.


Physical geography


The term Oceania covers a macro-geographical region located between Asia and America, with continental Australia as the main mass of the continent, followed by the much smaller and nearby islands of New Guinea, Tasmania and New Zealand, to which are added some 25,000 small islands scattered in the Pacific.

The territories of Oceania extend from Southeast Asia across the Pacific Ocean to America. With an area of 9,800,458 km2, it is the smallest continent in the world. It is washed by the Indian and Pacific Oceans, with a total of 25,760 km of coasts and has the second largest island in the world, New Guinea, with 785,753 km2.​ The climate is strongly influenced by ocean currents, including El Niño, which causes periodic droughts, and the tropical seasonal low pressure system, which produces cyclones in northern Australia.

The desert or semi-arid region is the largest: 40% of its territory is covered by sand dunes. Oceania is the driest, flattest continent, with the oldest and the least fertile soils. Interestingly, the highest mountain on the continent, Mount Jaya (4884 m), is not located in Australia, but is located on the island of New Guinea, belonging to Indonesia. Mount Kosciuszko, with 2228 m, is the main elevation of continental Oceania.


Extreme points

The extreme geographical points of Oceania are as follows:
Northernmost point: Kure Atoll, Hawaii.
Most easterly point: Salas y Gómez Island, Chile.
Southernmost point: Macquarie Island, Australia.
Westernmost point: West Island, Australia.


Political geography

Oceania is composed of 14 independent nations, 14 dependencies (from countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, France, New Zealand and Australia) and 5 territories integrated into other non-oceanic nations such as the United States, Chile and Indonesia. Since the arrival of the European colonizers, Oceania was divided into a series of dependent territories, which began to achieve their autonomy only from the middle of the twentieth century, with the exception of Australia and New Zealand, which did so in 1901 and 1907 respectively.


International and regional organizations

The states of Oceania are fully integrated into the UN, with Australia and New Zealand being the founding countries of that organization. Of the dependencies, six of them (Tokelau, French Polynesia, American Samoa, Pitcairn, New Caledonia and Guam) are included in the list of the UN Decolonization Committee.

In economic matters, eight states are members of the World Trade Organization (Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu) while six others are not part of the organization (Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Tuvalu). Likewise, the entire continent is included in the International Monetary Fund.

In terms of justice and security, only 8 oceanic countries are integrated into INTERPOL (Australia, Fiji, Nauru, New Zealand, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Tonga). In the case of international justice, six countries have not signed or ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. While Solomon Islands has signed that it has not yet ratified. In other countries, it accepts the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court to try cases of crimes against humanity.

There are three oceanic states (Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu) that are attached to the Non-Aligned Movement.

The weight of international relations in the area is carried by Australia and New Zealand; that is why in most transcontinental organizations both nations are members. Thus, Australia (1971) and New Zealand (1973) are present in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (1960), in the Colombo Plan (1950) for local development together with Fiji and Papua New Guinea. The Indian Ocean Riparian Association for Regional Cooperation (1995) of cooperation between Asian, African and Australian countries. And finally, in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (1989) together with Papua New Guinea, which entered in 1994.

In 1975, the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States were created to, through several agreements (the most recent Cotonou Agreement of 2000) fight poverty together with the European Union, which works through the European Development Fund. All the oceanic states except Australia and New Zealand are part of this organization, in addition to the free associated territories of the Cook Islands and Niue.

At the regional level, the Pacific Islands Forum is the main organization. The full members are the 14 independent countries, plus two states freely associated with New Zealand: the Cook Islands and Niue; and 2 dependencies of France: New Caledonia and French Polynesia. One unit as an associate member, Tokelau, and also admits as observers the countries in the process of decolonization: American Samoa, Guam, Wallis and Futuna, Northern Mariana Islands and an Asian country, East Timor.

He created the figure of the "dialogue partners" (Canada, China, the European Union, France, the United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, the United States and Thailand) and also holds separate meetings of his economic affairs ministers.

One of its main objectives is to promote the integration of the territories of the region, but also the search for solutions to common problems, such as security, fisheries or the environment. The Biketawa Declaration, signed in October 2000 belonging to the PIF, which provided for mechanisms for its members to intervene in the internal affairs of others "in times of crisis" was a crucial step in the integration process, which has served to smooth the sending of the RAMSI and to legitimize its success.

There are other organizations such as the Melanesian Spearhead Group (1986) which includes 4 states (Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu) in addition to two political parties for independence of their respective territories, the Free Papua Movement (West Papua of Indonesia) and the Kanak National Liberation Socialist Front of New Caledonia (sui generis collective of France). There are also two organizations formed by all independent, dependent states and their metropolises (United States, United Kingdom and France). The first concerned with climate change as the Pacific Regional Environment Program (1993) and the second the Pacific Community (1947) with scientific and technological objectives.

Finally, we must mention the most important military organization in the region, the ANZUS (1951), an agreement signed between Australia, New Zealand and the United States. The establishment of such an alliance in the South Pacific responded to a bipolar dynamic in which the United States wanted to guarantee a zone of influence beyond the territory in which it is able to influence, and whose presence, close to that of the Soviet Union, acted as a deterrent to a possible nuclear attack.



They are territories dependent on other powers in matters such as foreign policy, defense or trade relations. Some of these territories are included in the UN Decolonization Committee, such as American Samoa, French Polynesia, Guam, New Caledonia, Pitcairn Islands and Tokelau. The dependent territories of France are not part of the European Union, but are considered associated territories under the Treaty of Lisbon. The Pitcairn Islands had the same status until the United Kingdom's exit from the Union. The Cocos Islands, Christmas Island and the Heard and McDonald Islands are external territories of Australia that are located in Asia, specifically in the Indian Ocean, so they are not included in this list.


Delimitation and divisions

The exact definition of which territories belong to the continent is very varied:


Cultural division

Oceania is culturally and traditionally divided into four regions: Australia, which has continental dimensions, and the archipelagos of the Pacific Islands, located in the regions of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia, which are always included in Oceania. This division dates back to the early nineteenth century and was postulated by French explorers based on cultural, ethnic and linguistic aspects. Initially, D'Urville included Australia in Melanesia.


Political division

Oceania is politically divided according to national borders. In this sense, the border between Oceania and Asia would coincide with the border between the countries of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. According to the United Nations Geoskeleton for Oceania, the countries of Oceania are grouped into the regions Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia, in addition to the region of Australia and New Zealand, the latter sometimes called Australasia.



Oceania extends mainly over two large tectonic plates: the territory located within the Australian plate that, in addition to Australia, includes the island of Tasmania, the north of New Zealand and the south of the island of New Guinea; and the great Pacific plate, which extends over much of the rest of Oceania.

The territory of Eastern Indonesia located within the Australian Plate and consisting of southern Western New Guinea and other smaller islands, geologically are part of Oceania. Other minor plates that make up Oceania are: Kermadec Plate, Tonga Plate, Conway Reef Plate, Timor Plate, Woodlark Plate, Banda Sea Plate, Carolinas Plate, Moluccas Sea Plate, Maoke Plate, Bird's Head Plate, among others.


Biogeographic division

The biogeographic boundary between Asia and Oceania has been variously defined. The most coherent delimitation would probably be Weber's line, postulated by Max Weber, which sought the intermediate point of balance between the fauna and flora coming from the regions of Sahul (Oceania) and Sunda (Asia), especially with regard to vertebrates. Under this point of view, several islands of Eastern Indonesia are considered part of Oceania, such as New Guinea, Halmahera, Raja Ampat, Obi, Seram, Buru, Aru and others.
Other lines of biogeographical importance that are used as the border between Asia and Oceania are the Wallace line and the Lydekker line, which define the intermediate region of Wallacea. A sector of geographers and especially biogeographers who consider that the boundary between Asia and Oceania is the Wallace line, thus include in Oceania the islands of Celebes, Sumba, Flores, Timor, the Maluku Islands and Sunda Minors.
Oceania is divided biogeographically into two regions: Nearby Oceania, formed by the islands of Western Melanesia and finally also by Australia, depending on the authors; and Distant Oceania, formed by Eastern Melanesia and other Pacific islands. Nearby Oceania is in relation to the ancient continent Sahul and the nearby islands, not separated from Sahul by more than 350 km, where often from the mountains of one island the next island can be seen in the distance.​ The distance makes a substantial difference in terms of the expansion of fauna, flora and human migrations, since the colonization of Nearby Oceania took place in the Pleistocene, more than 40,000 years ago, while the Distant colonization of Oceania was carried out only in the Neolithic Period by the boats of Austronesian peoples who left from the Solomon Islands during the second millennium BC.


Other divisions and delimitations

A sector of the experts includes Insulindia (which politically includes Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, East Timor, Sabah and Sarawak) as part of Oceania, which has been reflected in some atlases and in the popular board game Risk. The field of linguistics proves this limit, since the languages spoken in Melanesia, Polynesia, Micronesia and Insulindia are so closely related that they make up the Malayo-Polynesian linguistic subfamily. Genetic research also corroborates this limit by demonstrating the close ethnic bond between these areas of Oceania.
The Polynesian archipelago of Hawaii is an American state. The Hawaiian Islands, although they are relatively far from most of the islands of Oceania, culturally they are much closer to the rest of Oceania than to America.
The few U.S. territories in the North Pacific (collectively referred to as the overseas Islands) are uninhabited except for itinerant service personnel. They are often grouped together next to the continental part of the United States, within the American continent.
Easter Island is a Polynesian island located in the Eastern Pacific, belonging to Chile, and is generally included in Oceania as its easternmost point, due in part to the fact that its ancient inhabitants came from Polynesia. Because it belongs to Chile, it is the only place in Oceania where Spanish is the official language. In Chile, the nearby Salas y Gómez Island is also considered to belong geographically to Oceania.
New Zealand is within the so-called Polynesian triangle and in this sense is part of Polynesia. New Zealand is one of the largest cultures in Polynesia.
The Democratic Republic of East Timor is a country that is usually considered part of the Australian continent, so it is sometimes included in Oceania.
The term Oceania, in its broadest sense, covers the entire insular region between Asia and America, together with the continental section of Australia, excluding the Ryukyu Islands, Kuriles, the Aleutian Islands, the Galapagos, the Desventuradas Islands, the Juan Fernández archipelago and the archipelago of Japan.
The term Australasia invariably includes Australia and usually New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and other nearby parts of Oceania. The name alludes to the region "south (austro) of Asia" and in this sense was coined by Charles de Brosses in 1756. Due to different interpretative controversies, sometimes Australia is not included in Oceania, although there are terms such as "Pacific Islands" that are normally used to describe Oceania without Australia. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Australasia was used as the name of the Australian and New Zealand sports combined, today there are numerous joint organizations of Australia and New Zealand that carry this denomination. But the most widespread acceptance of the term Australasia is the one given by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) by establishing that Australasia covers Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, New Guinea, Melanesia and the islands of Wallacea (the east of Indonesia).


Political organizations

There are few countries in Oceania that enjoy freedom of expression and universal suffrage. Only Australia and New Zealand have democratic governments that can be maintained over the years, although in Samoa, Vanuatu and Tonga the governments are also quite consolidated.

In the other independent countries or those wishing to become independent, there are moments of political irregularity, Fiji suffered a coup d'état in 2006 and for that reason was expelled from the Commonwealth of Nations, in New Caledonia and, to a lesser extent, in French Polynesia there are tensions due to the wishes of the native population to declare independence from France, Papua New Guinea has a very weak national government, constantly threatened. Something similar is happening in Solomon Islands.

Other countries have had no choice but to "submit" to a more powerful country, because they cannot support themselves economically autonomously. Niue, Cook Islands and Tokelau signed a free association agreement with New Zealand. French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna and New Caledonia are dependent states of France. The situation of States in Micronesia is very bad. They all have weak economies and are therefore heavily influenced by the United States, which dominates most of the countries in the region. Because although he does not dominate them politically, he has a lot of power over the economy of these developing countries.



Oceania's weight in the world economy is very small, it contributes only 1% of total production.

Australia and New Zealand have a diversified and highly developed economy. Although today most of the population works in services, the primary sector is still key and provides a good part of exports.

Both countries account for 40% of the world's sheep, are the main wool producers and contribute more than a third of the world's production.

In Australia, industrial activity has experienced strong growth in recent decades, mainly heavy industry and the chemical industry; for the most part, thanks to the important mining deposits. For its part, New Zealand has numerous lakes, used for the production of hydropower, which has favored the development of various basic industries.

Two thirds of the production of Australia and New Zealand is inserted in the Asian markets.

In the other countries of the Pacific, it consists of a rudimentary and self-sufficient economy. Agriculture is practiced on volcanic islands. Different tropical species are found on these islands.

The most important product that is exported is the coconut palm tree, there are also pineapples, rice, bananas, sugar cane and the so-called "breadfruit".

Another important activity is mining, there are gold reserves in Papua New Guinea and nickel and iron in New Caledonia. Polymetallic nodules are found in the Pacific Ocean, which in some areas are worked to obtain metals.

An important source of income is tourism. Tahiti and Fiji are some countries that subsist mainly on the tourism industry. It is exploited by large industries that build very exotic hotels and get cruises and airplanes to attract world tourism.

Fishing is also an important activity, especially in small countries, such as Wallis and Futuna, Nauru, Niue and the Marshall Islands.


Demography and human geography

This region is the least populated in the world (with the exception of Antarctica) with approximately 34,300,000 inhabitants in 2010, this figure has increased considerably due to the high birth rate and low mortality of Oceania. The oceanic birth rate is 21% and the mortality rate is 9%. The average life expectancy is 70 years.

The population density increased from 2.8/km2 to 3.4/km2.

The majority of the population is concentrated in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, being 92.1% of the population of Oceania. The rest of the population is divided into the other island countries of the continent of Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia.



The population is heterogeneous, much of the population is concentrated in ethnic groups native to Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia. Another large part of the people living on the continent are descendants of the first European colonizers, mainly of British, Irish, German, Dutch, French ancestry and a small part descends from Spaniards. Another ethnic group is the Asian, which despite representing a low percentage of the total, is the third most common ethnic group in Oceania. This could be explained by the large number of Asian immigrants, especially from Indochina, that the continent has been receiving for many years.

In New Zealand, the 2018 census determined that 71.8% of the New Zealand population is ethnically European, while only 16.5% was Maori (a native group of Oceania, the main one in New Zealand) and that 15.3% was Asian. In Australia, people of European descent make up 78% of the population, while those of native descent represent only 2.8% of the total Australian population, the lowest percentage of oceanic natives of the countries of the continent.

In other countries such as Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Palau, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, the majority of the population is descended from native tribes of Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia, while Asian and European descendants represent a small part of the total population of these small countries. Although the number of people related to the Asian ethnicity continues to grow, the European ethnicity is still the second most present in the smaller countries of Oceania.


Languages of Oceania

By number of people the four languages with the largest number of native speakers in Oceania are English, tok pisin, French and Fijian Hindi, all four are languages with allochthonous origin (indigenous to the region). The native languages with the largest number of speakers are Samoan, Fijian (Austronesian) and Enga (Papuan). The most widely used language is English, followed by tok pisin (Creole) and French.

On some islands, mainly on Easter Island (Rapa Nui), under Chilean sovereignty, Spanish is spoken. It is also spoken in a minority on the American islands of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, and has significantly influenced the Chamorro language, spoken by the indigenous people of both countries. There are also other local Creole languages of Spanish influence, which are spoken in Micronesia and Palau, both countries that are part of the Carolinas archipelago.

In addition, Portuguese is also spoken in that region, mainly due to the number of speakers in East Timor.


Indigenous languages

There are more than 1500 languages spoken in Oceania, the classification of which still presents many doubts (especially regarding the languages of pre-Austronesian origin).​ Broadly speaking, three groups can be distinguished:

The oceanic languages that constitute a group of the Austronesian languages and form the stratum of more recent indigenous languages.

The Papuan languages encompass both non-Austronesian languages of Papua New Guinea, Irian Jaya and the Solomon Islands.
The aboriginal languages of Australia, which are sometimes classified together with the Tasmanian languages (although they are not necessarily related).
The first populations of Australia and New Guinea come from the first migrations of humanity (a process that had begun in Africa). When the first humans populated these territories, both were part of a single landmass, called Sahul, which also included Tasmania. These facts led Joseph Greenberg to speculate on a common origin of the languages of these territories, which is called the Indo-Pacific hypothesis, which would also include Tasmanian (now extinct) and the Andamanese languages. However, the enormous diversity of these languages and the scarce evidence available for such hypotheses mean that the last two groups are only considered useful geographical groupings, but not genuine phylogenetic language groups.

The Austronesian languages of Oceania were initially divided according to a geographical criterion: Melanesia, Polynesia, Micronesia and New Zealand, however, these divisions do not represent adequate linguistic groupings (see Oceanic languages). The Polynesian, Fijian and Micronesian languages seem to form a phylogenetic group within the east-central oceanic languages, while the languages of Melanesia and other areas are part of different oceanic families and therefore do not form any valid phylogenetic group. Among the Polynesian languages are the languages of Easter Island (rapanui) or Hawaii (Hawaiian) to New Zealand (Maori). The kinship of these Polynesian languages was already detected in Captain Cook's first voyages.

The non-Austronesian languages of New Guinea, called Papuan languages, were only reasonably known from the twentieth century. Its classification was highly controversial until the works of Stephen Wurm (1975) and Malcolm Ross (2005). These works suggest that the Papuan languages do not form one language family, but several highly diverse families. The largest of these families is formed by the trans-New Guinea languages which includes hundreds of languages. Kate belongs to this group, which was the lingua franca of several groups before the expansion of tok pisin and dani, a language known for being one of the few in the world with only two terms to designate colors.

As for the languages of Australia, of the approximately 750 that were spoken on the island before the arrival of Europeans, about 200 remain today, many of them with the last speakers.

In many regions of Oceania, the indigenous languages have not resisted the pressure of colonization and it is currently the area of the world where the most indigenous languages disappear. Samoan, the official language of Samoa spoken by more than 300,000 people, is one of the few exceptions. A curious case is the language called beach-la-mar, Creole with an English, French, Spanish and indigenous lexical base. This language is used as a non-francophone Pacific bridge language and even has a dictionary and literature.

Some words from the languages of Oceania have had a great diffusion through English. Among these we can mention ukulele (from Hawaiian), taboo and tattoo (from Tongic) and kiwi (from Maori). From the Australian languages the word boomerang has come to us, which is originally the name of a local ethnic group, as well as some animal names such as dingo, koala and kangaroo.


Characteristics of the population

In Oceania the population varies depending on the different regions and countries. In Australia and New Zealand, the majority of the population is adults, far surpassing the young population. On the other hand, in Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and the colonies belonging to France, the United Kingdom and the United States, the majority of the population is composed of young people.

On the other hand, there is a higher proportion of adult population in Papua New Guinea, but with much lower aging than in the other countries of the continent.




42.7% of the population is Protestant, 24.7% is Catholic, only 2.2% belong to the Orthodox Church and 14.8% profess other Christian denominations (In total, 86.6% of the continent is Christian). There are low percentages of native Hindus (1.10%), despite the fact that in Fiji it is the second most popular religion after Christianity, Buddhists (0.8%), Muslims (0.8%) and traditional religions (0.8%). The remaining 13.1% profess other religions.

In summary, 24,451,000 Oceanians are Christians, 345,000 Hindus, 266,000 Buddhists, 248,000 Muslims, 259,000 of traditional religions and 3,891,000 natives belong to other religions.



The traditional art of Oceania has a magical-symbolic sense, originated by religious concern and manifested in idols, masks, weapons, tattoos and ornaments. The Polynesians make striking body tattoos; the art of the Maori of New Zealand is more evolved, with its wooden architecture, of a very rich decoration, and large carved masks; their jade figurines (tikis) also attract attention. On Easter Island, the gigantic half-length statues of volcanic stone are famous, some up to 15m high. The Melanesians decorate the bows of their canoes with human and animal figures and perform dance masks; in New Guinea, the macabre statues of ancestors and the carving and adornment of skulls of the deceased stand out. In the art of the Micronesians, the elaboration of mats stands out.



The two most popular sports are rugby and football, although cricket, bodybuilding, baseball, basketball, squash, surfing, swimming and some local sports, played by natives, are also sports practiced by the inhabitants of Oceania.



Rugby is the most popular sport in Fiji, New Zealand, Samoa, and Tonga, and also enjoys good popularity in Australia (where it is the third most popular sport, behind cricket and Australian football respectively) and Papua New Guinea (where the most popular sport is 13-a-side rugby, a variety of traditional rugby).

The continental oceanic rugby tournament is the Pacific Cup, which has been played since 1975 and includes all the Oceania national teams and alternative New Zealand and Australian teams. The first 4 editions (1974, 1977, 1986 and 1988) were won by the New Zealand Maori national team, the next two championships (1990 and 1992) were for Samoa. The 1994 and 2006 editions were won by the Tongan combined. New Zealand XIII in 1997, the Cook Islands in 2004 and Papua New Guinea in 2009 hold only one title.

New Zealand and Australia are the most important national teams in Oceania, they compete internationally in all editions of the Rugby World Cup and the Tri-Nations Tournament. New Zealand won the world title three times (1987, 2011 and 2015) and the Tri-Nations Tournament 9 times, while Australia won the world championship 2 times (1991 and 1999), and the Tri-Nations Tournament twice. These two countries send alternative teams to participate in the continental tournaments to be able to keep the main players for the two most important tournaments worldwide of rugby.

Fiji, Tonga and Samoa are also important international teams, as they frequently compete in the Rugby World Cup and other rugby union tournaments. These three selected teams face each year in the Pacific Nations Cup, the tournament underwent continuous changes of participants, the junior team of New Zealand, the cast of New Zealand Maori and the alternative team of Australia came to participate, despite this, since 2010 it achieved its current form, the three selected from the Pacific plus Japan. Only once one of the three oceanic teams could conquer the title, Samoa did it in 2010, as New Zealand Junior won the 2006, 2007 and 2009 editions, New Zealand Maori stayed with the tournament held in 2008 and Japan won the 2011 championship.

In the hierarchy rank, behind Fiji, Samoa and Tonga appear the combined of Papua New Guinea and the Cook Islands that have the great achievement of having achieved a title in the Pacific Cup. They play in practically all editions of that cup, although neither of the two selected players has ever played in a World Cup or another rugby union tournament.

American Samoa is another Oceania team of good level, despite this, it never got to play in a World Cup, although it did play in three editions of the Pacific Cup (1988, 1992 and 1994) without ever being able to achieve a title. Niue represents another national team that has never been able to win titles but does have some recognition at the continental level.



Football is not as practiced by the inhabitants of Oceania as rugby, but it is the most popular sport in Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. As happens in rugby, the Australia and New Zealand national teams are the highest level, while other important oceanic national teams are Fiji, the Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Tahiti. The Oceania Football Confederation (commonly abbreviated as OFC) is the highest football body in Oceania, it has 11 members, the teams already named (except for Australia, which joined the AFC in 2006) and the Cook Islands, Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga. In addition to 2 associate teams (members of the OFC, but not FIFA), Tuvalu and Kiribati (Niue ceased to be in 2021). Palau and the Northern Mariana Islands were former associate members, but today the former are not affiliated to any confederation or FIFA while the latter are in the AFC, as is Guam.

The highest continental tournament at the national team level is the OFC Nations Cup, which has been played since 1973, an edition won by New Zealand. The New Zealand team repeated this feat four more times, in 1998, 2002, 2008 and 2016. Australia won the tournaments played in 1980, 1996, 2000 and 2004. These two are the only teams that have been able to win more than two titles in the championship. If we except Australia and New Zealand, only Tahiti was able to achieve a championship (2012).

On the other hand, in women's football, as in men's football, Australia and New Zealand are the best teams on the continent, scoring goals to all the teams in all the tournaments (except for the matches between each other). The OFC Women's Championship is the highest competition at the continental level in which the New Zealand national team is the most successful of the competition with 6 titles, followed by Australia, Taiwan and Papua New Guinea. Now, without Australia or Taiwan, New Zealand has practically no rival in the OFC, since it achieves incredible goals (14-0, 10-0, 11-0 to Vanuatu, Cook Islands and Papua New Guinea, respectively in 2010), although in the world Cups, New Zealand does not do good roles. Another important team in the OFC is Papua New Guinea that wins with superiority to the rest of the countries, although it is beaten by New Zealand, until they got the championship in 2022, due to the absence of the New Zealanders.

At the international level the OFC is the weakest confederation of the six FIFA member associations. Australia has played in 5 World Cups (in the last three it was already a member of the AFC). He qualified as a member of the OFC to the two world Cups that were played in Germany, 1974 and 2006. In 1974 he lost all three matches of the group stage and could not score goals; while in 2006 he got 4 points (one win and one draw, losing the third match) and scored 5 goals. New Zealand, on the other hand, played the World Cups in Spain 1982 and South Africa 2010, in 1982 it was scored in its three matches, but in 2010 it was the only team that did not lose any match, drawing in its three matches in the group stage. In both matches he scored two goals (4 in total). Only once has an Oceanic team surpassed the group stage, Australia did it in 2006 although it was eliminated in the round of 16 at the hands of the Italian national team, which days later would obtain the world title.

At the club level, all countries have semi-professional leagues, in addition to their respective cups. Australia and New Zealand, in addition to the official league, have multiple regional championships. The level of the Australian A-League is growing year by year, while the New Zealand ASB Premiership is trying to gain global relevance. The Fiji National Football League, the New Caledonian Super League, the Vanuatu First Division, the Solomon Islands S-League, the Papua New Guinea National Football League and the Tahiti Division Federale are leagues that are advancing in football level. The club championship at continental level is the OFC Champions League in which only twice a team outside Australia and New Zealand achieved a title, Hekari United of Papua New Guinea and Hienghène Sport of New Caledonia. The champion of the tournament qualifies for the FIFA Club World Cup. The best place achieved by an Oceania team in this tournament was the third place achieved by Auckland City FC in the 2014 edition. In addition to the New Zealand teams, three other oceanic clubs have participated in this competition: Papua New Guinea's Hekari United (2010 edition), New Caledonian Hienghène Sport (2019 edition) and Polynesian Pirae (2021 edition).