American Samoa
Coconut islands
Marshall Islands
New Zealand
New Caledonia
Cook Islands
Papua New Guinea
Solomon islands
Wallis and Futuna
French Polynesia



Oceania is the collective name for the vast accumulation of islands and atolls in the central and western parts of the Pacific Ocean. The borders of Oceania are arbitrary. The island of New Guinea is considered to be the western border, Easter Island is the eastern border. As a rule, Oceania does not include Australia, as well as the islands and archipelagos of Southeast Asia, the Far East and North America. In the section of geography, country studies, Oceania is studying an independent discipline - ocean studies.

Oceania is the world's largest cluster of islands located in the southwestern and central parts of the Pacific Ocean, between the subtropical latitudes of the Northern and temperate Southern Hemispheres. When all land is divided into parts of the world, Oceania is usually united with Australia into a single part of the world, Australia and Oceania, although sometimes it stands out as an independent part of the world.

Geographically, Oceania is divided into several regions: Micronesia (in the north-west), Melanesia (in the west), and Polynesia (in the east); New Zealand is sometimes singled out.

The total area of ​​the islands of Oceania, the largest of which is New Guinea, is 1.26 million km² (together with Australia 8.52 million km²), the population is about 10.7 million people. (together with Australia 32.6 million people). Excluding Australia, Oceania in terms of total area and total population is comparable to the African state of Chad.

The islands of Oceania are washed by numerous Pacific seas (Coral Sea, Tasman Sea, Fiji Sea, Koro Sea, Solomon Sea, New Guinea Sea, Philippine Sea) and Indian Oceans (Arafura Sea).

Equator and the international date line pass through Oceania. It is a broken line, most of which runs along the 180 ° meridian.

Sea currents
Across the whole of Oceania, along the equator, are the warm Northern Passat and Southern Passat currents and the Passat countercurrent. In the southwestern part of Oceania, a warm East Australian Current passes. Characteristic of Oceania is the absence of cold sea currents (with the exception of the Pacific Ocean region southeast of New Zealand), which largely determines the climate of this region.


Concept definition

Oceania in the broadest sense of the term includes all the islands between Asia and America. In most cases, however, the Japanese Islands, the Ryukyu Archipelago, the Kuril Islands and the Aleutian Islands are excluded from this list, and the most common interpretation of the term also excludes Indonesia, the Philippines and Taiwan, since the peoples and cultures of these islands are historically closely connected with continental Asia. Even in this limited sense, there are over 10,000 islands in Oceania, including New Guinea and New Zealand. Oceania in this sense of the term is traditionally divided into 4 regions - Australasia (Australia and New Zealand), Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.


Geographical position

Australia is located entirely in the Southern and Eastern Hemispheres. Almost in the middle of it crosses the Southern Tropic. Australia is a separate continent, remote from other continents. This is what determined the uniqueness of its nature. The main trade routes pass away from the mainland, which makes it difficult to develop economic ties.

The area of ​​Australia is 7.6 million km². The shores of the mainland are slightly indented. In the north, the Gulf of Carpentaria protrudes into the land, in the south - the Great Australian Gulf. The Cape York Peninsula forms the northern edge of the mainland. Off the southeastern coast is the island of Tasmania, off the northeastern coast is one of the largest islands in Oceania - the island of New Guinea, separated from Australia by the Torres Strait.

The island groups and archipelagos of the western and central Pacific Ocean are united in a geographical area under the general name of Oceania. The land area of ​​the island part of Oceania, which includes New Guinea and New Zealand, but not Australia, is 822,800 km². Historically, the division of all the islands into four ethnographic and geographical regions: Polynesia (Tonga, Samoa, Cook, Hawaiian, Easter Island, etc.), Melanesia (New Guinea, Bismarck Archipelago, Solomon Islands, etc.), Micronesia (Marshall, Mariana Islands, etc.), New Zealand. Most of the islands of Oceania are concentrated in the equatorial belt between 10 ° S. sh. and 20° N. sh.

A prominent Russian scientist Nikolai Miklukho-Maclay made a great contribution to the study of the nature and population of Oceania. He studied the life of the peoples of the island of New Guinea, left descriptions of the nature of coastal areas. His scientific research was connected with his conviction of the need to protect the backward and oppressed peoples. At the very end of the XIX century. lived and worked in the Hawaiian Islands, Nikolai Konstantinovich Sudzilovsky, a native of the Mogilev province, was the president of the Senate.



Discovery and exploration of Australia
The Dutch navigator Willem Janszon was the first European to reach the coast of Australia in 1606. During the period of the Great Geographical Discoveries, the Dutchman Abel Tasman explored the northern and northwestern coasts of Australia. In the XVIII century, the Englishman James Cook re-discovered Australia about the islands of New Zealand and declared them colonies of England. An interesting fact is that for several decades, convicts for various crimes were sent to Australia from England, who developed new territories, being engaged in mining and animal husbandry.

In 1840, sheep farmer Edward Eyre intended to explore the area between the Flindres Range and the West Bank (Perth area) in South Australia. Air could not go deep into the mainland, but explored only the southern coast. However, even after such discoveries, the largest lake on the mainland was named after him. During the four-month journey, Air covered over 2000 km.

The central deserts were explored by the British Robert Burke and John Stuart. By the end of the 19th century, exploration of the interior of Australia was largely completed.

Australia and Oceania are located in the southern part of the planet and are washed: from the west by the Indian Ocean, from the east by the Pacific. The composition of these oceans, washed by part of the world, includes the seas: Coral, Tasman, Fiji, Arfur and Timor Seas.

The mainland includes large islands, such as: about. New Guinea, Northern and Southern O., Solomon Islands, Tasmania, etc.

Extreme points:
Cape North West Cape
Cape Steep Point
Cape South East Cale
Cape South East Point
Cape Byron



The US National Geographic Society website proposes a classification of the islands that make up Oceania based on geological differences. According to this principle, continental, high and low islands are distinguished. The continental islands in this case include Australia, New Zealand, and New Guinea, which were part of a larger continental mass before tectonic changes and rising sea levels separated them. Continental islands are characterized by a variety of relief, in all three cases including mountain ranges of folded origin, resulting from the extrusion of rocks upward during the collision of lithospheric plates. The ongoing tectonic activity in New Zealand and New Guinea is reflected in the presence of active volcanoes. At the same time, the dominant processes that formed the continental islands differed significantly, which led to significant differences in the relief. Such a distinctive feature for Australia is Outback - a vast region of deserts and semi-deserts on the plains in its central part; for New Zealand - glaciers, the presence of which is due to high altitudes and prevailing wet and cold winds; and for New Guinea, where a significant altitude is combined with proximity to the equator and humid tropical winds, high-mountain evergreen tropical forests.

The high, or volcanic, islands of Oceania arose as a result of the eruptions of underwater volcanoes, in which the erupted magma was cooled by ocean water and solidified. Such activity, which continues for a long time, leads to the formation of islands, in the center of which is a mountain with steep slopes, from which ridges and gorges diverge towards the coastline. A significant concentration of high islands is characteristic of Melanesia in that part of it that coincides with the contour of the Pacific Ring of Fire - a chain of underwater volcanoes - at the junction of the Pacific and Australian plates. The important volcanoes of Melanesia are Tomaniwi (Fiji), Lamington (New Guinea) and Yasur (Vanuatu).

The basis of low, or coral, islands is the thickness of coral skeletons. Due to their origin, these islands often barely rise above sea level and often take the form of a discontinuous semicircular chain of small islets (atolls) around a central lagoon. This form occurs when a coral reef forms around an uplift of volcanic land, and then this land is eroded, leaving a depression in its place, which is filled with sea water. A typical example is the Kwajalein Atoll (Marshall Islands), consisting of 97 islets of different sizes, surrounding one of the world's largest lagoons; the total area of ​​their land and the inner lagoon is 2173 km². Low islands dominate Micronesia and Polynesia.

There are several mountain ranges in Australia, the most famous of which is the Great Dividing Range, but there are also such ranges as the Kimberley Mountains (the highest point of Ord (937 m)) and the Berkeley Plateau. The highest point on the mainland is Mount Wilhelm in Papua New Guinea.


The largest mountains in Oceania
Mount Wilhelm (4509 m)
Mount Mauna Kea (4205 m)
Mauna Loa volcano (4169 m)
Mount Cook (3764 m)
volcano Ruapehu (2797 m)
Ulawun volcano (2300 m)
Mount Kosciuszko (2228 m)
Mount Liebig (1440 m)
Mount Meharri (1251 m)
Mount Bluff Knoll (1096 m)
Mount Ord (937 m)

The fame of Oceania gives the deepest mark of the world - the Mariana Trench (10,994 m). In addition to it, there are two other equally deep trenches on the territory. These are the Tonga Trench (10,882 m) and the Kermadec Trench (10,047 m). On land, the Eyre North salt lake, up to −16 meters deep, became a deep mark.



The climate on different islands and in the states is diverse. In central Australia, precipitation is less than 250 mm per year, and the prevailing temperatures are + 7 ° С to + 47 ° С. In the northern part of Australia (city of Darwin), temperatures from +10°С to +41°С and precipitation from 2000 mm and more prevail. The highest precipitation rate is located in the north of Papua New Guinea and reaches more than 3000 mm, when temperatures here prevail from +18 to +24°C.


Flora and fauna

Many plants and animals of Oceania come from South Asia, from where they came to the modern islands during the last ice age, when the lower level of the oceans made it possible to cross over land. Plant seeds were also carried by wind, sea currents and birds. After the sea level rose again, organisms continued to evolve on individual islands or groups of islands, forming endemic species far from a common ancestor. The number of endemic species in Australia and Oceania is much higher than in other parts of the world. Important flowering plants in Australia and Oceania include jacaranda, hibiscus, pohutukawa, kowhai (endemic species of Sophora), breadfruit, eucalyptus, and banyan tree.

In the animal world of Oceania, birds occupy a central place due to their ability to fly between islands; in total, there are over 110 endemic bird species in Oceania. This number also includes the relic flightless birds of Australia, New Guinea and New Zealand - cassowaries, emu, kiwi, ueka shepherd and takahe. Among other animals, lizards and bats are widely represented (in particular, more than 100 species of fruit bats are known in Oceania). Australia and Oceania are the only region of the world where representatives of monotremes, egg-laying mammals, have survived. The surviving species of this order (four species of echidnas and one species of platypus) live only in Australia and New Guinea. Other wild mammals are mostly marsupials; of all known modern marsupial species in the world, 70% are in Oceania, the rest are concentrated in South America. Due to the absence of large predators, the marsupials of Oceania grow to sizes inaccessible to their American relatives - for example, a large red kangaroo reaches a height of 2 m and weighs up to 100 kg.

Oceania lies in three different marine ecoregions - Temperate Australasian (the seas washing the southern part of Australia and New Zealand), Central Indo-Pacific (the northern coast of Australia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga) and Eastern Indo-Pacific (the central region of the Pacific Ocean from the Marshall Islands to central and southeastern Polynesia). The temperate Australasian region is characterized by cold, nutrient-rich waters that support large populations of fish and seabirds ((several species of albatrosses and petrels, as well as the Australian gannet and crested penguin). The other two regions are home to corals that formed in the Central Indo-Pacific region giant formations - the Great Barrier Reef and the Barrier Reef of New Caledonia Barrier reefs are the basis for high biodiversity.Thus, the Great Barrier Reef is home to about 30 species of whales and dolphins, 6 species of sea turtles, 215 species of birds and more than 1500 species of fish, and Barrier Reef of New Caledonia - at least 1000 species of fish in addition to 600 species of sponges, 5500 species of molluscs and 5000 species of crustaceans.


Peoples and population density

All of Western and Eastern Australia is occupied by Anglo-Australians who settled during the colonization of the Australian continent. The entire island of New Guinea, attached to Oceania, is occupied by the Papuan peoples (including those on the Solomon Islands and the Santa Cruz Islands). Central Australia is inhabited by Indigenous Aboriginal Australians, for whom reservations have been established. New Zealand is inhabited by the Anglo-New Zealanders, as well as on such islands as Chatham and others.

Colonial lands (for example, the island of New Caledonia) are occupied by the French, and the Pitcairn Islands, in the south of the world, are inhabited by the British mixed with indigenous tribes.


Population density

Most of the Australian population lives in the east and southwest of the continent, where the population density ranges from 1 to 10 people / km². Near the largest cities, the density varies from 10 to 50 people/km². On the contrary, in Papua New Guinea, despite the mountainous terrain, there is a population density of 10-50 people per square kilometer. The capital of the state, Port Moresby, does not have a large population and does not stand out from the general background. The situation is similar in New Zealand, where the largest city is not the capital Wellington, but Auckland. Of the island states of Oceania, the most densely populated is Fiji (10 - 40 people / km²).


Natural resources

Most of the islands in Oceania are poor in minerals. The exceptions are New Caledonia, the world's fifth largest producer of nickel, whose reserves account for about 10% of the world's reserves of this metal, and Fiji, in whose exports gold occupies second place after cane sugar. New Guinea has significant mineral resources. The mining industry is one of Papua New Guinea's main employers, exporting gold, copper and oil. In the territorial waters of the country, mining has begun from a depth of more than a mile below the seabed. There are also a number of oil and gas fields around Australia and New Zealand, but these countries consume more oil than they produce themselves.

On the continental islands of Oceania (including Australia), there are significant resources for the logging and woodworking industries. For example, in Australia, these areas of the economy in 2008 brought in revenue of $1.7 billion. In this country, the main products are sawn wood, wood panels and paper. Logging also plays an important role in the economy of Papua New Guinea, which exports rosewood, eucalyptus and pine wood.