Oceania Overview

Oceania, the smallest continent of the earth; 8.5 million km2, 42.5 million inhabitants (2019).Oceania consists of Australia, New Zealand and the island regions of Melanesia (with eastern New Guinea), Micronesia and Polynesia in the Pacific. Hawaii and western New Guinea, which geographically and ethnically-culturally belong to the region, are part of states in neighboring continents and are often not included in Oceania. The American, Japanese and Russian archipelagos in the North Pacific do not belong to Oceania either. In return, the Australian territories in the Indian Ocean are normally counted towards Oceania. Originally, only New Zealand and the South Sea Islands were considered Oceania; previously the continent was commonly called Australia or Australia and Oceania or Australia with Oceania.

Oceania Facts

  • Area: 8.5 million km2
  • Population: 42.5 million inhabitants (2019)
  • Population growth: 1.0% per year
  • Highest mountain: Mount Wilhelm, Papua New Guinea (4 509 m asl), Mount Kubor, Papua New Guinea (4 359 m asl), Mount Herbert, Papua New Guinea (4 267 m asl), Mauna Kea, Hawaii (4,205m asl), Mauna Loa, Hawaii (4,169m asl)
  • Longest river: Murray – Darling, Australia (about 4,900 km)
  • Largest lake: Lake Eyr, Australia (3,500 – 13,000 km2, depending on the season)

Countries and territories

State/area Independence
Government Capital Area
American Samoa (USA) Pago Pago 197 55 700
Australia 1901 monarchy Canberra 7 700 000 25 000 000
Christmas Island (Australia) Flying Fish Cove 135 2 200
Cocos Islands (Australia) Bantam 14 600
Cook Islands (New Zealand) Avarua 237 17 900
Fiji 1970 republic Suva 18 274 883 000
French Polynesia (France) Papeete 4,200 286 400
Guam (USA) Hagåtña 541 167 400
Hawaii (USA) Honolulu 16 760 1 432 000
Kiribati 1979 republic Tarawa 861 116 000
Marshall Islands 1990 republic Darrit 181 58 000
Micronesia Federation 1990 republic Palikir 701 113 000
Nauru 1968 republic Yaren 21 13 000
Niue Island (New Zealand) Alofi 259 1 600
Northern Mariana Islands (USA) Chalan Kanoa 457 55 200
Norfolk Island (Australia) Kingston 36 1 700
New Caledonia (France) Noumea 18 580 280 600
New Zealand 1947 monarchy Wellington 270 530 4 900 000
Palau republic Melekeok 488 18 000
Papua New Guinea 1975 monarchy Port Moresby 462 840 8 600 000
Pitcairn Island (United Kingdom) Adamstown 52 54
Easter Island (Chile) Hanga Roa 163 7 800
Solomon Islands 1978 monarchy Honiara 27 556 653 600
Samoa 1962 monarchy Apia 2 831 196 000
Tokelau Islands (New Zealand) 10 1 300
Tonga 1970 monarchy Nukua’lofa 748 103 000
Tuvalu 1978 monarchy Fongafale 26 12 000
Vanuatu 1980 republic Port Vila 12 190 293 000
Wallis and Futuna Islands
Feed STY 225 11 200

Credit: Countryaah


Like most other islands in the area, Pitcairn’s first residents were Polynesians. The first European to visit the island was British Captain Robert Pitcairn, who arrived in 1767.

In 1789, the British ship HMS Bounty was on its way back to the UK after a 6-month stay in Tahiti, when parts of the crew did mutiny, the captain and those parts of the crew who would not mutilate in a small boat. After a brief stay in Tahiti, the mutineers settled on Pitcairn.

The myths were led by Fletcher Christian. They consisted of 8 crew members, 6 Tahitians and 12 women. Ten years later, only one of the mutineers, John Adams, lived surrounded by 11 women and 23 children. Led by alleged “visions,” Adams began to teach the children and populate Pitcairn, who was subsequently made into British colony.

By 1937, the population was 200, but it has gradually declined as young people leave to look for work in New Zealand.

Pitcairn was governed by the governor of Fiji in 1952-70. In 1970, it became subordinate to the British High Commissioner of New Zealand, who serves as governor in cooperation with the island’s administrative council.

The island’s communication with the outside world basically has two forms: a radio transmitter and the ships approaching its shores.

Despite the lack of educational resources, schooling is compulsory for children between the ages of 5 and 15. A New Zealand teacher works for a period of 2 years at a time and is also responsible for editing Pitcairn Miscellany – a small 4-page newsletter.

No racial discrimination exists on the island and its residents are guaranteed equality. The island’s administrative council consists of 11 members of different races. Five of these are selected from the island’s residents over the age of 18 who have stayed at least 3 years on the island.

The island’s only national celebration is the celebration of the Queen’s (Elisabeth II) birthday. It is celebrated on the 2nd Saturday in June. The Queen is the country’s head of state and since 1990 has been represented by Governor and High Commissioner David Moss.

The population lives on fishing and subsistence farming. The fertility of the island’s valleys provides the basis for a varied production of fruits and vegetables: citrus fruits, sugarcane, watermelons, bananas, potatoes and beans. Still, the island’s main source of revenue is the sale of stamps to philatelists.

In 1963, a forestry program was initiated. It is concentrated on the planting of miro trees, suitable for the production of all kinds of crafts.

In 1987, the governor of the islands signed a fisheries agreement with Japan. It gives the Japan Tuna Fisheries Cooperative Association the right to fish within the country’s 200 mile ocean rights zone. The agreement expired again in 1990.

Country Main parties with mandate in recent elections Main parties with seats in the penultimate election
Australia The coalition between the Liberal Party (LP) and the National Party (NP) 77, the Labor Party (Labor) 68, the Greens 1, others 5 (2019) The coalition between the Liberal Party (LP) and the National Party (NP) 76, the Labor Party (Labor) 69, The Greens 1 (2016) 2
Fiji Fiji First 27, Sodelpa 21, National Federation Party (NFP) 3 (2018) Fiji First 32, Sodelpa 15, National Federation Party (NFP) 3 (2014)
Kiribati Boutokaan Kiribati Moa (BKM) 22, Tobwaan Kiribati Pati (TKP) 22 (2020) Boutokaan Te Koaua (BTK) 25, Tobwaan Kiribati Pati (TKP) 19 (2016)
Marshall Islands personval; no formal political parties exist (2019) personval; no formal political parties exist (2015)
Micronesia Federation formal parties are missing: elections take place only between persons formal parties are lacking, elections take place only between persons
Nauru only personnel selection takes place (2019) only personnel selection takes place (2016)
New Zealand Labor Party 64, Nationalist Party 35, Green Party 10, ACT New Zealand 10, Maori Party 1 (2020) Nationalist Party 56, Labor Party 46, Green Party 8, New Zealand First 9, ACT New Zealand 1 (2017)
Palau personval (2020) personval (2016)
Papua New Guinea People’s National Congress (PNC) 29, National Alliance (NA) 15, Pangu Party 10, United Resource Party (URP) 10, PNG Party 6, People’s Progress Party (PPP) 4, Other Small Parties 24, Independent 13 (2017) National Congress of the People (PNC) 27, Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party 12, PNG Party 8, National Alliance (NA) 7, Other Small Parties 41, Independence 16 (2012)
Solomon Islands Solomon Islands Cadre Party (KPSI) 8, Solomon Islands Democratic Party (SIDP) 8, United Democratic Party (UDP) 4, Democratic Alliance Party (DAP) 3, United Party (UP) 2, People’s Alliance Party (PAP) 2, independent candidates 21 ( 2019) Democratic Alliance Party 7, United Democratic Party 5, People’s Alliance Party 3, Solomon Islands Rural Development Party (Sipra) 2, Solomon Islands Cadre Party (KPSI) 1, Solomon Islands First Party (SIPFP) 1; independent members 31 (2014)
Samoa Party for the Protection of Human Rights / HRPP 44, Tautua Samoa 3, Independent Candidates 2 (2016) Party for the Protection of Human Rights / HRPP 29, Tautua Samoa 13, Independent Candidates 7 (2011)
Tonga Democratic Party of the Friends of the Islands (DPFI) 14, independent candidates 3 (2017) Democratic Party of the Friends of the Islands (DPFI) 9, independent candidates 8 (2014)
Tuvalu Political parties do not exist, only personal elections take place (2019) Political parties do not exist, only personal elections take place (2015)
Vanuatu Vanuatu’s Leader Party (LPV) 9, Our Country Party (VP) 7, Reunification Movement for Change (RMC) 7, Land and Justice Party (LJP) 5, Moderate Party Union (UMP) 5, National United Party (NUP) 4, other small parties and independence 15 (2020) Land and Justice Party (LJP) 6, Our Country Party (VP) 6, Moderate Party Union (UMP) 6, Iuako Group 4, National United Party (NUP) 4, Other and Independent 26 (2016)

That same year, the British High Commissioner of Fiji, as a representative of Pitcairn, signed a South Pacific Regional Agreement for the Protection of the Environment with the aim of curbing the spread of nuclear waste in the area. Co-signers were the United States, France, New Zealand and 6 other states from the region.