Oceania is a region that is comprised of the islands in the Pacific Ocean. It is located in the tropical region. There are three main subregions: Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. Many experts, however, argue about what constitutes Oceania.
As its name indicates, this region is defined by large expanses of ocean dotted with many small and large island nations. The climates range from tropical to desert to near arctic-like conditions.
Countries and Region
Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea are by far the largest countries in this pseudo-continent, and the former two are the most visited by travelers.
- Australia — the largest and most populous country in Oceania, often considered a continent by itself. Frequent destinations include the state capitals of Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney, as well as the national capital, Canberra
- New Zealand — a major destination and widely regarded as one of the most pristine and beautiful countries on earth. Well-developed facilities for travelers. The indigenous Maori people are mostly native of New Zealand
- Papua New Guinea — geographically part of Melanesia, the islands have tropical rainforests, great scenery, and diverse cultures. The main island of New Guinea is shared with Indonesia. An adventurous, rarely visited travel destination where caution is advised
- Polynesia (Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and several territories, such as American Samoa, French Polynesia, Hawaii and Norfolk Island) — world famous beautiful beaches and resorts
- Melanesia (Fiji, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu) — closely related to the ethno-cultural make-up of Papua New Guinea. Fiji is the most visited country in Melanesia
- Micronesia (Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Northern Mariana Islands, and Palau) — these tiny Micronesian islands fall on or north of the Equator, and see less tourist than the rest of the island groupings. Palau is arguably the most interesting destination among these islands
Popular Destinations in Oceania
The Oceania region is home to glistening white sand beaches, coconut palm trees swaying in the breeze, beautiful coral reefs, and rugged volcanic islands rising out of the light blue shallow ocean.
Its diverse nations have both some of the world’s most cosmopolitan and internationalized cities such as Melbourne, and some of its most remote and culturally isolated villages, such the rainforests of Cairns in Australia.
- Abel Tasman National Park — great hikes through forests, hills, and beaches
- Bay of Islands — pretty spot in New Zealand with historical significance
- Bora Bora — the most beautiful lagoon of French Polynesia, but incredibly pricey
- Moorea — budget alternative to Bora Bora with beautiful scenery
- Coral Coast — amazing white sand beaches and palm trees
- The Great Barrier Reef — the largest coral formation in the world, great for diving
- Rainforests of Cairns — some of the oldest and unspoiled rainforests
- Uluru and Kata Tjuta National Park — iconic rock formations in the middle of the outback
- Vava’u — group of more than 50 islands in Tonga, a common destination for yachts
- Sydney — the largest city in Australia, home to the Harbour Bridge and Opera House
- Melbourne — multicultural and sports-mad, this vibrant city includes many cultural institutions
- Auckland — bustling multicultural metropolis that scores well in quality-of-life polls
- Christchurch — known as the Garden City, and still rebuilding after a devastating earthquake
- Apia — a little shabby and run-down, but useful as an initial stop-off point for first-time visitors to Samoa
- Nouméa — beautiful beaches, colonial mansions and French flair – at a price
- Papeete — not a tropical paradise, but has shopping, eating, drinking and is nice for people-watching
- Port Moresby — spread-out capital of Papua New Guinea – can be dangerous
- Suva — the major commercial and political centre of Fiji
History & Culture
The history of human inhabitation in the region is the same as the history of the first human presence in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and other nearby island regions. Two waves of migration have formed the region’s population.
Colonialism by European powers has had a pervasive influence on the social landscape and culture of most of the region. British colonialism has made cricket part of the Australian and New Zealand summer, and has also resulted in either one or both forms of rugby – and more recently Rugby Sevens – becoming an integral part of the cultures of Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa.
Christianity is the major religion followed by the people, and more than 90% of the people in various regions of Oceania are either Christians or indigenous. Traditional religion here is also animism. The tribes of the area believe in spirits, representing natural forces.
In Australia and New Zealand, you can find many people who are atheists (or not particularly religious), whereas in Tonga, everyday life is strongly affected by the Christian faith.
The only Muslim mosque in the region is situated in the Marshall Islands. However, recent immigration from around the world is changing the demographics all over Oceania.
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 throughout much of the Pacific islands with the exception 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 may be hard to foreigners to understand, though educated locals are almost always able to 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, primarily those of Indian descent.
Almost all of Oceania is safe for visitors, with the exception of Papua New Guinea, which remains a travel destination only for the more adventurous. In particular, Port Moresby has one of the highest violent crime rates in the world.
Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea all 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 Zika virus is increasingly present in tropical areas. Avoid mosquito bites, especially during an outbreak.
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August 23, 2016 12:00 am Leave your thoughts
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