The geographic region of Oceania includes Australia, Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia. On the following map, all countries which I have already traveled to are colored. If you move the mouse pointer over those, the country name appears, and by clicking, the page of the specific country, including all related articles, opens. For this big region, not all small island countries are visible on the map. Therefore, please use the dropdown-menu instead to find all countries which I have visited.


Australia (link to page)

The region of Oceania concluding Australia is often referred to as Australasia. However, the region of Australasia also contains New Zealand (belonging to Polynesia) and Melanesia. Therefore, I want to reduce this region to only Australia and the tiny little islands around, which mostly belong to Australia. The term Down Under is well-known to refer to Australia, sometimes also New Zealand and some other Islands within the southern Pacific region. Australia is a highly developed, megadiverse country.

I studied in Australia at the University of Queensland in Brisbane for two semesters. During that time, I took courses from the cultural studies group, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. The key message one should have incorporated after taking those courses was “you should feel sorry for what you have done to the Indigenous Australians or Australian First Nations”. The First Nations people are all those ethnic groups living in Australia before British colonization. There are both a number of commonalities among the various First Nations people and great diversity among different communities and societies, each with its own mixture of cultures, customs, and languages. 

The population of First Nation people collapsed after European colonization, from the epidemic spreading of diseases. Also, Massacres and frontier conflicts with European settlers contributed. From the 19th to the mid-20th century, (mixed heritage) children were forcibly removed from Aboriginal communities by governmental policy. Mixed heritage also indicates the high rate of abuse which female First Nation people had to endure. There have been arguments over whether these actions constitute genocide. In my personal opinion, I name these actions a genocide in accordance with the Bringing Them Home Report (1997).

Since 1995, the Australian Aboriginal flag and the Torres Strait Islander flag have been among the official flags of Australia. While over 250 Aboriginal languages were spoken at the time of European settlement, currently approximately 120 remain in use, but all except 13 are considered endangered. In our days, First Nation peoples mostly speak English with Aboriginal phrases added. If you check out the map of Australia to find places, you might notice that about three quarters of them are of Aboriginal origin. European settlers tried to write down in letters what they understood from listening to the native people of a region. 



I have visited New Zealand during my one-year living and studying in Australia. Back then, I was impressed by the Maori culture and started reading about people living on Pacific Islands. There are three theories regarding the spread of humans across the Pacific to Polynesia, even genetic studies have been performed to investigate how people of Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia relate to each other.

The Austronesian languages, spoken by the subset of sea-migration Austronesian people, began spreading from Taiwan into the Islands of Southeast Asia between 3000 and 1000 BCE. To me, it is not important for how long these people have stayed in which regions of Melanesia or Micronesia and which routes they might have taken exactly. What is far more impressive is the distance which these people were able to conquer by boat. Just to consider which high quality boats they must have been able to build.

The countries of Wallis and Futuma, Samoa and Tonga are comparatively close to Fiji (Melanesia). Most likely these countries were inhabited at first (around 800-900 BC). From this area, the sailors must have taken three routes, most likely not at the same time, and by that defining the edges of the “Polynesian triangle”. From 700AD onwards (as it is assumed), Polynesian people sailed from the Samoa region to the Cook Islands and the Society Islands (of French Polynesia). Starting from the Society Islands, one group sailed north across the Marquesas Islands (700 AD) to the Islands of Hawaii (900 AD). Another group sailed eastwards across the Tuamotu Archipel and Pitcairn Islands to Easter Island, or by its native name, Rapa Nui (1000 – 1200 AD). The third group went down south and inhabited New Zealand and surrounding islands (1200 AD). 

Most Polynesian islands and archipelagos, are composed of volcanic islands built by volcanoes. The land masses of the southwestern edge, New Zealand, Norfolk Island, and Ouvéa (Polynesian outlier near New Caledonia) are the unsubmerged portions of the largely sunken continent of Zalandia.

Countries of Polynesia

  • American Samoa
  • Cook Islands (link to page)
  • Easter Island
  • French Polynesia (consisting of: Society Islands, Austral Islands, Marquesas Islands, Tuamotu Archipel, Mangareva) (link to page)
  • Hawaii
  • Kiribati: Phoenix Islands & Line Islands
  • New Zealand (incl. Kermadec Islands) (link to page)
  • Niue
  • Norfolk Island
  • Pitcairn Islands
  • Totuma
  • Samoa (link to page)
  • Tokelau
  • Tonga (link to page)
  • Tuvalu
  • Wallis and Futuna



Melanesia is a subregion of Oceanian in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It extends from New Guinea in the west to Tonga in the east, and includes the Arafura Sea and a few thousand islands. The name Melanesia was first used in the early 19th century by french navigators. They considered three main ethnic and geographical regions forming the Pacific, bringing up Melanesia and Micronesia to describe two more regions to the preexisting Polynesia. The name Melanesia, from Greek μέλαςblack, and νῆσοςisland, etymologically means “islands of black [people]”, referencing the dark skin of the inhabitants. I didn’t believe into this meaning of Melanesia until I did some island-hopping in the Pacific myself. 

I traveled to New Zealand, belonging to Polynesia, 5 years before I went to Melanesian Islands. Furthermore, I remembered the skin tone of Maori people and was quite surprised about the dark skin color of Fijian people at my first stop in Melanesia. There are still discrepancies on the boundaries of Melanesia, multiple people are doing research on genetics, culture, skin color, and many more categorization options. According to Charles de Brosses (1756), there was an “old black race” in the Pacific who had been conquered or defeated by the Polynesian people, who are distinguishable by brighter skin. An interesting result of genetic research is the somehow mysterious third archaic Homo species that was found in Melanesian. Blond hair also often occurs among these people, due to a random genetic mutation which is different from the one causing blonde hair in northern regions of the globe.

Countries of Melanesia

  • Fiji (link to page)
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Solomon Islands
  • Vanuatu (link to page)
  • New Caledonia (link to page)
  • Indonesia: Papua & West Papua



Micronesia consists of about two thousand small islands in the western Pacific Ocean, therefore, the ancient Greek meaning (μικρός mikrós “small” and νῆσος nêsos “island”) is very accurate. Its cultural history relates to its neighbors, the Philippines to the west, Polynesia to the east, and Melanesia to the south. Human settlement of Micronesia began several millennia ago. Austronesian people are said to have reached the Batanes Islands around 2000 BC and (were) assimilated (by) the earlier populations on the islands in their migration pathway. Some countries of Micronesia are in association with the United States of America.

Countries of Micronesia

  • Caroline Islands (600 islands belonging to the Federated States of Micronesia, 250 islands to Palau)
  • Gilbert Islands (sixteen atolls and coral islands, belonging to the Republic of Kiribati)
  • Mariana Islands (Commonwealth status, US citizenship)
  • Marshall Islands (Republic, in free association with the United States)
  • Nauru (Third least-populated country, after Vatican City and Tuvalu)
  • Wake Island (unorganized, unincorporated US territory)