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    Home  Earth  Continents Countries of Australia/Oceania

    Countries of Australia and Oceania


    Aerial view of Wallis Island, Micronesia
    An aerial view of Wallis Island (in the background). The French territory of Wallis and Futuna Islands is situated in the South Pacific Ocean, west of Samoa and northeast of Fiji.
    Image: Anna Vinet


    Oceania

    Conventionally there are four main geographical regions or subregions in Oceania.

    Australia/New Zealand Melanesia Micronesia Polynesia

     


    Some Facts about Australia and Oceania



    Australia
    Map of the Australien Continent
    Map of Australia


    Australia is the smallest of the seven continents on Earth.

    The first people to discover and settle Australia about 50,000 years ago were the ancestors of the Aboriginal Australians.

    The discovery by the Europeans was a long time coming. It was not until 1606 that Dutch and Spanish explorers landed on the continent. In 1770 James Cook, a colorful figure in British colonial history, was in search for the predicted Great South Land. He came across a vast stretch of unknown land when he arrived on the east coast of Australia, and in the usual blunt British fashion, he claimed the territory for the British Crown.

    Between 1788 and 1868 the British used Australia as a penal colony. Australia became independent from the UK in several stages, only on the 3rd March 1986, Australia achieved complete independence from Britain.


    Area of Australia
    Including the adjacent island of Tasmania, Australia covers an area of 7,692,024 km2 (2,969,907 sq mi), which corresponds to about 5.6% of Earth's landmass. In comparison, Australia is slightly smaller than the contiguous United States. One country, Australia, occupies the continent.




    Oceania
    Map of Oceania
    Oceania, the Ocean-continent. The vast expanse of water between Asia and America with an area of 100 million square kilometers, is home to countless archipelagos and more than 10,000 islands. Due to rising sea levels and coastal erosion, many of the low-lying reef islands are threatened to be submerged.

    There is a variety of definition of Oceania. The most plausible is to denote the insular area in the Pacific Ocean east of Maritime Southeast Asia and Australia and west of South America (see the map below).


    How many countries are there in Oceania?
    There are 14 independent countries and a number of dependent territories (see the list below).


    Area
    Oceania covers an area of about 100 million square kilometers, this is about one-fifth of Earth's surface area.

    By far the largest country by area is Australia with 7,692,024 km2, followed by Papua New Guinea with 462,840 km2.
    The smallest independent country in Oceania is the island nation of Nauru with 21 km2.


    Map of the Regions in Oceania
    Map of regions in Oceania: Micronesia, Melanesia, Polynesia, and Australasia
    The map shows the various, partly overlapping regions of Oceania: Micronesia, Melanesia, Polynesia, and Australasia, as well as the parallel of latitude 23°26? south, known as the Tropic of Capricorn. Depicted on the map is also the course of the International Date Line (IDL) along the 180th meridian (180° longitude), with diversions to pass around some island groups such as Kiribati.

     
     
    Country
    Population
    Maps
    Capital/
    Largest city

    Australia/New Zealand

    Panoramic view of the Sydney skyline seen across Sydney Harbour from Kirribilli
    Panoramic view of the Sydney skyline seen across Sydney Harbour from Kirribilli. Sydney is the most populous city in Australia and Oceania.
    Image: Diliff
     
    Australia/New Zealand sometimes referred to as Australasia.

    Australia is known as the smallest continent on Earth. The country has an area of 7,692,000 km2 (2,969,900 sq mi), making it slightly smaller than the contiguous United States. According to its population clock, 25,479,630 people live in Australia. (2019). [1]

    New Zealand is a geographically isolated island nation in the southern Pacific, situated about 2,000 km (1,250 mi) southeast of Australia's east coast. 4.7 million people live in New Zealand (in 2019) [2]. The country consists of two main islands, known as the North Island (Te Ika-a-Māui), and the South Island (Te Waipounamu).


    Australia/New Zealand
     
    Australia 24,500,000 Map of Australia Canberra - Sydney
    New Zealand 4,700,000 Map of New Zealand Wellington - Auckland

    Melanesia

    East Rennell, the largest raised coral atoll in the world is part of the Solomon Islands
    East Rennell official website, a World Heritage Site, makes up the southern third of Rennell Island, the southernmost island in the Solomon Island group in the western Pacific. The largest raised coral atoll in the world is mostly covered with dense tropical forest.
    Image: ? UNESCO / Robbert Casier
     
    Melanesia is a region in the western Pacific Ocean to the east and south of New Guinea Island; its northern boundary is the Equator. The area includes the island of New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, four independent countries: Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea, and the French dependency of New Caledonia. Many islands of Melanesia are of volcanic origin and belong to the Pacific Ring of Fire.

    In 2019 an estimated 10.7 million people live in Melanesia.
     
    Fiji 919,000   Suva
    New Caledonia 283,000 Map of New Caledonia Nouméa
    Papua New Guinea 8,587,000 Map of Papua New Guinea Port Moresby
    Solomon Islands 635,000   Honiara
    Vanuatu 288,000   Port-Vila

    Micronesia

    Archaeological site of Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia
    Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia official website is an archaeological complex and a World Heritage Site on the island of Pohnpei. The urban settlement with stone palaces, temples, and tombs was built between 1200 and 1500 CE; it consisted of a number of small artificial islands linked by a network of canals and bridges.
    Image: Montgomery Lion
     
    Micronesia is a region in the western Pacific Ocean, north of Melanesia and north and west of Polynesia; its southern boundary is largely along the Equator. The area includes the Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, the Marshall Islands, and the western portion of the Kiribati archipelago.

    In 2019 an estimated 537,000 people live in Micronesia.
     
    Guam 167,000 Map of Guam Hagåtña (Agana)
    Kiribati 100,000   Tarawa
    Marshall Islands 54,000   Majuro
    Micronesia (Federated States of) 102,289   Palikir
    Nauru 11,288   ---
    Northern Mariana Islands 52,300   Saipan
    Palau 17,661   Ngerulmud, Melekeok

    Polynesia

    Rangiroa Atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago of French Polynesia
    Entrance to the lagoon of the Rangiroa Atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago of French Polynesia in the southern Pacific Ocean. Rangiroa is located about 340 km northeast of Tahiti.
    Image: Derek Keats
     
    The term Polynesia refers to a vast region of the central Pacific Ocean to the east of Micronesia and Melanesia. The ocean section contains the easternmost of the Pacific islands, including New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Hawaii, the Marquesas Islands, Samoa, and French Polynesia.

    In 2019 an estimated 2 million people live in Polynesia (including Hawaii but not New Zealand).
     
    American Samoa 56,000 Tutuila Map Pago Pago
    Cook Islands 18,000   Avarua
      Easter Island (Chile) 7,750   Hanga Roa
    French Polynesia (Tahiti) 276,000   Papeete
    Hawaii flag Hawaii 1,430,000 Map of Hawaii Honolulu
    Niue 2,000   Alofi
    Pitcairn 50   Adamstown
    Samoa 199,000 Map of Samoa Apia
    Tonga 110,000   Nuku'alofa
    Tuvalu 11,000   Funafuti

    Population source: population.un.org/wup/


    More about Oceania

    Oceania's major Regions and Subregions
    The island world of Oceania is divided into:

    Australia, a country and Earth's smallest continent.
    Zealandia, a microcontinent which includes the island country of New Zealand.
    New Guinea, the second largest island on the planet (after Greenland),
    The Pacific Islands, thousands of islands in the Pacific Ocean divided into Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.


    Population
    An estimated 42.6 million people live in Oceania/Australia; about 0.54 % of the world's population (7.8 billion).
    The most populous countries in Oceania are Australia with 25.6 million people, Papua New Guinea with 9 million, and New Zealand with 5 million residents (in 2020).
    (Source: UN World Population Prospects)

    Largest Metropolitan Areas
    Largest cities in Oceania by population are
    Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Auckland; except Auckland, all cities are located in Australia.


    Major Physiographic Features of Oceania
    Rabaul caldera on the island of New Britain
    The Rabaul caldera on the island of New Britain, Papua New Guinea.
    Image: JulesR
     
    Major physiographic regions of Australia/Oceania includes:
    The southwestern part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Great Barrier Reef, Australia's Outback, the Great Dividing Range in Australia, the North Island Volcanic Plateau and the Southern Alps in New Zealand, the rain forest covered New Guinea Highlands and the coral islands of Micronesia and Polynesia.

    Mountains
    Highest Point:
    Puncak Jaya or Carstensz Pyramid in the Papua Province of Indonesia on the island of New Guinea is at 4,884 m (16,024 ft) the highest mountain in Oceania.
    Mauna Kea at 4,207.3 m (13,803 ft) above sea level on the island of Hawaii is Oceania's second-highest peak.
    Mount Kosciuszko at 2,228 m (7,310 ft) in New South Wales is the highest mountain in Australia.

    The Great Dividing Range, also known as the Eastern Highlands is a 3,500 km long mountain range along the eastern coast of Australia. The highest peak is Mount Kosciuszko at 2,228 m (7,310 ft). Puncak Jaya (4,884 m) is the highest mountain in the Makoe Mountains, a section of the New Guinea Highlands, the mountain chain stretches almost the entire island.

    Largest Lake:
    The largest lake in Oceania/Australia is theoretically Lake Eyre in South Australia, a seasonal lake with a surface area between 8,000 and 9500 km2.

    Longest River:
    The longest single river in Oceania is the Murray at 2508 km. [3] For a long distance, the river forms the border between the Australian states of Victoria and New South Wales.

    Deserts
    About 35% of the Australian continent is dry, most of the interior, known as "The Outback", receives so little rain that it is practically a desert. There are several named deserts in Australia. The largest by area is the Great Victoria Desert, followed by the Great Sandy Desert, the Tanami Desert, the Simpson and the Gibson deserts, and the Strzelecki Desert.

     Languages of Oceania:
    Many different languages were spoken in Oceania before the arrival of the Europeans. The major languages spoken today in Oceania are based on English, some French-based creole, some Japanese, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, Melanesian Pidgin, Hawaiian, Polynesian languages, Tahitian, and Maori.


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    More about Oceania

    Maps
    Map of Australia/Oceania
    Reference Map of the Australia/Oceania region.

    Searchable Maps of Countries and Capital Cities of Australia/Oceania

    Languages
    profile Languages of Oceania Melanesian pidgin, Melanesian-Polynesian Languages.

    Flags
     Flags of Oceania
     

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