Oceania (Prehistory and history - The alien ships)
European notions of a large, yet unknown continent,
Terra Australis Incognita, attracted from the early
1500s. a growing stream of ships to the area. As the first
European, Fernando de Magellan crossed the Pacific Ocean
1520-21. Spanish, Dutch, British and French explorers
followed suit, but the final mapping of the islands of
Oceania was first done by James Cook in the late 1700s.
With the industrial revolution in Europe and the United
States, the need for commodities and markets increased, and
most of the oceanic people came during the 1800s. in
ever-stronger contact with traders, whalers, laborers,
missionaries and colonists. Many of the local populations
were drastically reduced by outside diseases, and iron
implements and firearms led to major upheavals in all
communities. The widespread Christian missionary activity at
one and the same time strengthened and subverted the
communities; strengthening because it defended against the
worst abuses of the whites and created the basis for a new
cultural exchange, undermining because it broke down the
existing basis of life and created a negative view of the
cultural heritage. In Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii, a
massive immigration of foreigners.
The Oceania includes Australia and the islands of
Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. According to
Countryaah.com, Oceania is the smallest
continent on the planet, with an area similar to that of
Brazil. It contains more than 10,000 islands, covering an
area of about 8,500,000 km². Approximately 86% of this
territory is occupied by Australia, the only continental
platform, while the rest is formed by the countless islands
of different origins, which may be: continental, volcanic or
coral islands (atolls). The relief of the continent has very
diverse characteristics due to the fact that it is formed by
terrains of very different geological ages.
Located in the center of the continent, to the northeast
of Australia, Melanesia is a set of islands of which they
are part: the Solomon, the Bismarck archipelago, Vanuatu,
Fiji, New Caledonia, Nauru, Tuvalu and, the largest, New
Guinea (Papua New Guinea). Some of them, the largest islands
in Oceania, are considered continental, because they have
the same rock structure as the continents. The geology of
these islands is based on very ancient crystalline rocks,
just like Australia.
To the north and northeast of Melanesia, Micronesia is
located. Part of this region are islands that, in general,
formed from corals or volcanic activities. They are: the
Mariana Islands, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, among
The third region is Polynesia, which represents the
furthest region from Australia. Its several islands are
distributed in the central area of the Pacific Ocean, east
of the continent. In this group of islands, the islands of
Hawaii, Bora Bora, Cook, Samoa, Midway, Tonga, Tuamotu and
Tahiti can be highlighted. In general, the largest islands
are volcanic. The relief of these islands is marked by
dozens of peaks of volcanic origin with more than 2,500m of
altitude. On the South Island, in New Zealand, the New
Zealand Alps rise, a mountain range of recent origin that
has Mount Cook as its culmination, with 3,764m. The smallest
islands in Polynesia are usually coral, and the largest
current of atolls in the world is concentrated in the
Australia is a huge ancient massif and, as it is at the
center of the Indo-Australian tectonic plate, it has no
modern folds or active volcanoes. Its surface is basically
composed of extensive rocky plateaus, gentle mountainous
elevations and sedimentary basins along the river valleys.
In the relief of Oceania there are four major
geomorphological units: the Australian shield, the Tasmanian
geosyncline, the Melano-Zeelandic arches and the Pacific
Ocean itself. The oldest territories are the Precambrian
shield, in the west and central Australia. The massifs of
Hamersley, in the northwest, and Kimberley, in the north, as
well as the central region of Alice Springs, outcrops of
this shield, which in other areas is covered by sediments of
different ages, including the quaternary period.
To the east of the Australian shield is the Tasmanian
geosyncline, which has the highest elevations in Australia.
Its culminating point is Mount Kosciuszko, with 2,228m.
Moderately high mountains form the continental divide called
the Great Dividing Chain, about 300km from the sea.
The arches that extend from New Guinea to New Zealand are
the continuation of island garlands in eastern and southern
Asia, areas of intense volcanism. In general, the relief is
arranged in alignments parallel to depressions, emerged in
New Guinea and immersed elsewhere. In the Fiji Islands there
are larger alignments, separated by depressions. In
Melanesia, the continent's reliefs are higher, reaching
5,000 m at the Sukarno peak, in New Western Guinea, which
has a glacier in the middle of the equator. Because it is a
recent process, orogenesis is still occurring in some areas,
as is the case in New Guinea.
Vanuatu is a Republic of Oceania located 200 km east of
Australia's northeast coast in the southern Pacific Ocean.
Vanuatu consists of 82 islands in the archipelago of the New
Hebrides, which are distributed from the north to the
southeast over a distance of 1300 km.
Vanuatu was the British-French colony of the New
Hebrides. The Republic of Vanuatu was founded in 1980.
Vanuatu (the name) is bislama and means 'the land rising
from the sea'.
National anthem is ' Yumi, Yumi, Yumi in Man Blong
Vanuatu ' ('We, we, we are Vanuatu people').
Geography and environment
Vanuatu consists of 12 major islands and 70 smaller
islands approximately 400 kilometers northeast of New
Caledonia and 1000 kilometers west of Fiji.
All the major islands are volcanic and mountainous, and
with narrow coastal plains. The highest peak is Tabwemasana,
1879 meters above sea level on the largest island of
Espiritu Santo. There are several active volcanoes,
including some submarines. Volcanic eruptions and
earthquakes often occur. Many of the islands are surrounded
by coral reefs.
The climate is tropical with about 9 rainy and hot months
and 3-4 months with cooler and drier weather characterized
by south-east winds. The wettest and warmest months are
June-November, which is also the cyclone season. The
temperature ranges from 22 degrees in winter to 28 degrees
in summer. The average annual rainfall is about 2360
millimeters, but can be up to 4000 millimeters in the
Large parts of the islands are wooded with tall trees,
ferns and vines. In the north there are tropical rainforests
and in the south many open grass plains. Several islands
have marshes and mangroves scattered along the coast.
The only original mammals are 12 bat species, 3 of which
are endemic (native). At the coast there is a dugong. The
small Polynesian rat is possibly an original species. 61
species of land and seabirds and 19 species of native
reptiles have been identified, including a few saltwater
crocodiles in mangrove areas. On the coast, more than 200
species of fish are common.
People and society
98.5 percent of the population is of Melanesian origin;
the rest are Micronesians, Europeans and Asians. A quarter
of the population lives in urban areas. Life expectancy at
birth is 74.36 years for women and 71.16 years for men
(2014). 40 per cent of the population is under 40 and
therefore the birth rates are high.
Bislama, English and French are official languages. The
Pidgins language bislama is a national language while the
main teaching languages are English and French. 113 other
languages are spoken in Vanuatu.
70 percent are Protestants, 12.4 percent are Roman
Catholics. In many of the smaller islands there are
traditional local religions. Cargo cult originated during
the Second World War and gradually gained more widespread
State and politics
Vanuatu is a parliamentary-democratic republic. The
president, who has mainly ceremonial duties, and is elected
for 5 years by parliament, appoints the members of the
government who all must be from parliament. The prime
minister, elected by parliament, appoints the members of the
government who must all be from parliament.
Parliament has 52 members elected every four years.
Vanuatu is divided into 6 provinces which have elected local
parliaments. The country does not have regular defense
Vanuatu is a member of the UN and several of the UN's
special organizations, such as the World Bank, as well as
the Commonwealth and Pacific Islands Forum.
The archipelago was discovered by the Portuguese Pedro
Fernandez de quire in 1606. It was rediscovered by Luis
Antoine de Bougainville in 1606 and in 1774 by James Cook,
who named the islands the New Hebrides (New Hebrides). From
the early 1800s came British and French missionaries and
eventually farmers and traders.
In order to stabilize the situation, in 1887 France and
the United Kingdom established a joint naval commission to
establish orderly political conditions and control the
archipelago. Permanent Commissioners were introduced in
1902. In 1906 a British-French condominium was established.
The New Hebrides received two official languages and
police forces, as well as several administrative duplicates.
During the Second World War, the archipelago became an
important base for the Allies and avoided Japanese
Linguistic, religious and political divides created by
the condominium scheme grew ever deeper after the war.
Decolonization therefore became a difficult and lengthy
process. When the British-dominated political party Vanuaaku
Pati gained an absolute majority in elections in 1979, riots
erupted due to allegations of electoral fraud among the
French-speakers in the islands of Santo and Tanna. Rebel
leader Jimmy Stewart proclaimed Santos independence as the
state of Vemarana.
After the government took control, a new uprising
followed on Santo and Tanna. Britain and France sent troops;
these were replaced by troops from Papua New Guinea after
the proclamation of the Republic of Vanuatu on July 30,
Relations with France were strained and political
conditions in the 1990s unstable with frequent changes in
government. This led to a more decentralized government.
In 1999, a powerful earthquake followed by a tsunami hit
the northernmost island of Pentecote. A new earthquake with
a tsunami in 2002 led to major devastation in Port Vila and
its surroundings. The worst natural disaster in the
archipelago's history came in March 2015 when tropical
cyclone Pam flooded and smashed large areas. On the island
of Tanna 20 miles south of the capital Port Vila, 80 percent
of the building mass was crushed or blown at sea. The
massive material damage put the poor country back several
years; the number of dead is unknown.
Economy and business
About two-thirds of the working population are employed
in agriculture and fishing. There are exports especially of
coconut products, beef, cocoa, timber and tuna. Mining and
industry are little developed.
The most important import goods are machinery, industrial
goods and means of transport.
Tourism is one of Vanuatu's main sources of income.
Vanuatu has an international ship register. Having been a
tax haven since the 1970s, the rules for the financial
sector were tightened and the country was cleared by the
In recent years, the economy has been growing, but
unemployment is high. The country has liberal tax rules,
including income tax. Vanuatu receives development
assistance from Australia and New Zealand.
Knowledge and culture
Schooling is in theory, but not in reality, compulsory.
The proportion of children and young people attending school
in Vanuatu is among the lowest in the Pacific region. The
teaching takes place in English and French. Vocational
schools and teacher schools exist. Port-Vila and three other
centers have branches of the University of the South
There are two daily newspapers and four weekly
newspapers. It is one broadcasting company. The broadcasts
are in English and French.
The traditional music is mainly vocal. In the
1900s,'string band' music with guitar, ukulele and popular
songs became widespread throughout Vanuatu. In the 1990s a
separate music identity was developed by several orchestras
and 'zook' music and 'reggaeton', a variety of hip-hop, are
popular especially in Port-Vila.
There are few prominent writers. The women activist and
poet Grace Mera Molisa (1946-2002) achieved international
reputation. In 2007, writer and musician Marcel Melthèrorong
(1975-) published Vanuatu's first novel.
Sand drawing is characteristic of Vanuatu. Aloi Pilioko
(1935-) is a well-known painter.