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History

Ancient history and settlement.

Oceania is a geographic region that includes Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. Spanning the eastern and western hemispheres, Oceania has a land area of 8,525,989 square kilometres (3,291,903 sq mi) and a population of over 47 million. Situated in the southeast of the Asia-Pacific region, Oceania, when compared to continental regions, is the smallest in land area and the second smallest in population after Antarctica.

Oceania has a diverse mix of economies from the highly developed and globally competitive financial markets of Australia and New Zealand, which rank high in quality of life and human development index, to the much less developed economies that belong to countries such as Kiribati and Tuvalu, while also including medium-sized economies of Pacific islands such as Palau, Fiji and Tonga. The largest and most populous country in Oceania is Australia, with Sydney being the largest city of both Oceania and Australia.

Geography

Ancient history and settlement.

Oceania was originally conceived as the lands of the Pacific Ocean, stretching from the Strait of Malacca to the coast of the Americas. It comprised four regions: Polynesia, Micronesia, Malaysia (now called the Malay Archipelago), and Melanesia. Today, parts of three geological continents are included in the term “Oceania”: Eurasia, Australia, and Zealandia, as well the non-continental volcanic islands of the Philippines, Wallacea, and the open Pacific.

Oceania extends to New Guinea in the west, the Bonin Islands in the northwest, the Hawaiian Islands in the northeast, Rapa Nui and Sala y Gómez Island in the east, and Macquarie Island in the south. Not included are the Pacific islands of Taiwan, the Ryukyu Islands, the Japanese archipelago, and the Maluku Islands, all on the margins of Asia, and the Aleutian Islands of North America. In its periphery, Oceania sprawls 28 degrees north to the Bonin Islands in the northern hemisphere, and 55 degrees south to Macquarie Island in the southern hemisphere.

Oceanian islands are of four basic types: continental islands, high islands, coral reefs and uplifted coral platforms. High islands are of volcanic origin, and many contain active volcanoes. Among these are Bougainville, Hawaii, and Solomon Islands.

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