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Oceania is a geographical (often geopolitical) region consisting of numerous countries and territories—mostly islands—in the Pacific Ocean. The exact scope of Oceania is controversial, with varying interpretations including East Timor, Australia, New Zealand.For the oceans of the Earth, see Oceans.

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Countries and territories of Oceania
Other interpretations of Oceania
Oceania in ecology
Population density

Overview - Contents

The primary use of the term Oceania is to describe a continental region (like Europe or Africa) that lies between Asia and the Americas, with Australia as the major land mass. The name Oceania is used, rather than Australia, because unlike the other continental groupings, it is the ocean rather than the continent that links the nations together. Oceania is the smallest continental grouping in land area and the second smallest, after Antarctica, in population.

Countries and territories of Oceania - Contents

Geopolitical map of Oceania
Geopolitical map of Oceania
Oceania has been traditionally divided into Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia (originally by the French explorer Dumont d'Urville in 1831). This subdivision is no longer recognised as correct by most geographers and scientists — who prefer to divide Oceania into Near Oceania and Remote Oceania — but it is still the most popular one.Most of Oceania consists of small island nations. Australia is the only continental country, and Papua New Guinea and East Timor are the only countries with land borders, both with Indonesia.The nations of Oceania have varying degrees of independence from their colonial powers and have negotiated a wide range of constitutional arrangements to suit their circumstances. The following list contains the countries and territories that are classified as part of Oceania by UNESCO; other countries are sometimes considered part of Oceania (see Other Interpretations below).Australia
  • Australia - Commonwealth Realm1
  • Norfolk Island - external territory of Australia
New Zealand Melanesia Micronesia
  • Guam - organised, unincorporated territory of the United States
  • Kiribati - republic
  • Marshall Islands - republic in free association with the United States
  • Micronesia, Federated States of - republic in free association with the United States
  • Nauru - republic
  • Northern Mariana Islands - organised, unincorporated commonwealth in political union with the United States
  • Palau - republic in free association with the United States
  • Wake Island - unorganised, unincorporated territory of the United States
  • American Samoa- unorganised, unincorporated territory of the United States
  • Cook Islands - self-governing state in free association with New Zealand
  • Easter Island - Territory of Chile
  • French Polynesia - "overseas country" of France2
  • Hawaii - one of the United States
  • Niue - self-governing state in free association with New Zealand
  • Pitcairn - overseas territory of the United Kingdom
  • Samoa - constitutional monarchy under Malietoa Tanumafili II
  • Tokelau - semi-autonomous territory of New Zealand
  • Tonga - absolute monarchy under King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV
  • Tuvalu - Commonwealth Realm1
  • Wallis and Futuna Islands - overseas collectivity of France2
  1. Commonwealth Realms are independent constitutional monarchies in which Elizabeth II reigns as Queen
  2. See administrative divisions of France

Other interpretations of Oceania - Contents

  • Australia is sometimes not included in Oceania, although a term like Pacific islands would normally be used to describe Oceania without Australia. The term "Australasia" invariably includes Australia along with the rest of Oceania, but this term is disliked outside of Australia as too greatly emphasising Australia.
  • Hawaii is correctly included in Oceania. Hawaiians are a Polynesian race and, although the Hawaiian Islands are some distance from most of the islands of Oceania, they are still physically as well as culturally much closer to the rest of Oceania than to North America - and they are no further from the rest of Oceania than from United States territories in the North Pacific.
  • The few U.S. territories in the North Pacific are invariably uninhabited except by itinerant service personnel, and are normally grouped with the mainland United States in North America. They are certainly no part of Oceania and, unlike Hawaii, they are closer to North America - most of them closer to North America than they are to Hawaii.
  • Easter Island is a Polynesian island in the eastern Pacific Ocean, part of the territory of Chile, and is correctly included in Oceania.
  • On very rare occasions the term may be stretched even further to include other Pacific island groups such as the Aleutian Islands, but these are obviously islands off the coast of North America. It would be just as logical to include the Pacific islands of Russia, all of Japan and the Philippines, insular Malyasia, and all of Indonesia as part of Oceania, as to include the Aleutians.

Oceania in ecology - Contents

Oceania is one of eight terrestrial ecozones, which constitute the major ecological regions of the planet. The Oceania ecozone includes all of Micronesia, Fiji, and all of Polynesia except New Zealand. New Zealand, along with New Guinea and nearby islands, Australia, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia, constitute the separate Australasia ecozone.

Population density - Contents

This is a list of countries/dependencies by population density in inhabitants/km².Unlike the figures in the country articles, the figures in this table are based on areas including inland water bodies (lakes, reservoirs, rivers) and may therefore be lower here.
country pop. dens. area population
(/km²) (km²) (2002 est.)
Nauru 587 21 12,329
Tuvalu 429 26 11,146
Marshall Islands 407 181 73,630
American Samoa (US) 345 199 68,688
Guam (US) 293 549 160,796
Federated States of Micronesia 194 702 135,869
Northern Mariana Islands (US) 162 477 77,311
Tokelau (N.Z.) 143 10 1,431
Tonga 142 748 106,137
Kiribati 119 811 96,335
Cook Islands (N.Z.) 87 240 20,811
East Timor 68 15,007 1,019,252
French Polynesia (Fr.) 62 4,167 257,847
Hawaii (US) 42.75 28,337 1,211,537
Samoa 61 2,944 178,631
Wallis and Futuna (Fr.) 57 274 15,585
Norfolk Island (Aus) 53 35 1,866
Fiji 47 18,270 856,346
Cocos Islands (Aus) 1 45 14 632
Palau 42 458 19,409
Solomon Islands 17 28,450 494,786
Vanuatu 16 12,200 196,178
New Zealand 15 268,680 3,908,037
Papua New Guinea 11 462,840 5,172,033
New Caledonia (Fr.) 11 19,060 207,858
Niue (N.Z.) 8.2 260 2,134
Christmas Island (Aus) 2 3.5 135 474
Australia 2.5 7,686,850 19,546,792
Pitcairn Islands (UK) 1.0 47 47
Total 3.7 8,523,655 32,642,390
1 Located in the Indian Ocean, not in Oceania.
2 This Christmas Island is in the Indian Ocean—not the one part of the Line Islands;
a territory of Kiribati

Sport - Contents

The Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) is one of six football confederations under the auspices of FIFA, the international governing body of football (soccer). The OFC is the only confederation without an automatic qualification to the World Cup Finals. Currently the winner of the OFC must play-off against a South American confederation side.Oceania has only been represented at three World Cup Finals - Australia in 1974, New Zealand in 1982 and Australia in 2006. However, Australia is now no longer a member of the Oceania Football Confederation, having joined the Asian Football Confederation in 2006.
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