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.
|External debt (USD million)
|New Zealand dollar
|Papua New Guinea
|17 367 (2017)
|Tuvalu = Australian dollar
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 others.
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 region.
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.
- ALLCITYCODES.COM: List and profiles of capitals in each country of Oceania continent.
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 northern islands.
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 percent 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 use.
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 forces.
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 occupation.
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, 1980.
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 OECD’s blacklist.
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 Pacific.
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.