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Demonym Oceanic; Oceanian
Population 38,894,851
Time Zones UTC+8 (Australian Western Standard Time) to UTC-6 (Easter Islandmarker) (West to East)
Largest Cities Sydneymarker

Oceania (sometimes Oceanica) is a geographical, often geopolitical, region consisting of numerous lands—mostly islands in the Pacific Oceanmarker and vicinity. The term "Oceania" was coined in 1831 by French explorer Dumont d'Urville. The term is used today in many languages to denote a continent comprising Australiamarker and proximate Pacific islands, and is one of eight terrestrial ecozone.

The boundaries of Oceania are defined in a number of ways. Most definitions include parts of Australasia such as Australia, New Zealandmarker, and New Guineamarker, and all or part of the Malay Archipelago. Ethnologically, the islands that are included in Oceania are divided into the subregions of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.


Oceania is traditionally understood as being composed of three regions: Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia. As with any region, however, interpretations vary; increasingly, geographers and scientists divide Oceania into Near Oceania and Remote Oceania.

Most of Oceania consists of island nations comprising thousands of coral atolls and volcanic islands, with small human populations. Australia is the only continental country but Indonesiamarker has land borders with Papua New Guineamarker, East Timormarker, and Malaysiamarker. If the Australia-New Guineamarker continent is included then the highest point is Puncak Jayamarker in Papuamarker at and the lowest point is Lake Eyremarker, Australia at below sea level.

Territories and regions

Descriptions of the regions and constituents of Oceania vary according to source. The table below shows the subregions and countries of Oceania as broadly categorised according to the scheme for geographic subregions used by the United Nations. The information shown follows sources in cross-referenced articles; where sources differ, provisos have been clearly indicated. These territories and regions are subject to various additional categorisations, of course, depending on the source and purpose of each description.

Name of region, followed by countries

and their flagsRegions and constituents as per UN categorisations/map except notes 2-3, 6. Depending on definitions, various territories cited below (notes 3, 5-7, 9) may be in one or both of Oceania and Asia or North America.


Population Population density

(per km²)
Capital ISO 3166-1
7,686,850 21,828,704 2.7 Canberramarker AU
New Zealandmarker is often considered part of Polynesia rather than Australasia.

268,680 4,108,037 14.5 Wellingtonmarker NZ
Dependencies/Territories of Australia:
Christmas Islandmarker and Cocos Islandsmarker are Australian external territories in the Indian Oceanmarker southwest of Indonesiamarker.

135 1,493 3.5 Flying Fish Covemarker CX
14 632 45.1 West Islandmarker CC
Coral Sea Islandsmarker 3
35 1,866 53.3 Kingstonmarker NF
MelanesiaExcludes parts of Indonesiamarker, island territories in Southeast Asia (UN region) frequently reckoned in this region.

18,270 856,346 46.9 Suvamarker FJ
(Oceanian part only)Indonesiamarker is generally considered a territory of Southeastern Asia (UN region); wholly or partially, it is also frequently included in Australasia or Melanesia. Figures include Indonesian portion of New Guineamarker (Irian Jayamarker) and Maluku Islandsmarker.

499,852 4,211,532 8.4 Jakartamarker ID
(Francemarker) 19,060 240,390 12.6 Nouméamarker NC
Papua New Guineamarker is often considered part of Australasia and Melanesia. It is sometimes included in the Malay Archipelago of Southeast Asia.

462,840 5,172,033 11.2 Port Moresbymarker PG
28,450 494,786 17.4 Honiaramarker SB
12,200 196,178 16.1 Port Vilamarker VU
702 135,869 193.5 Palikirmarker FM
(USAmarker) 549 160,796 292.9 Hagåtñamarker GU
811 96,335 118.8 South Tarawamarker KI
181 73,630 406.8 Majuromarker MH
21 12,329 587.1 Yaren (de facto) NR
(USA) 477 77,311 162.1 Saipanmarker MP
458 19,409 42.4 MelekeokmarkerOn 7 October 2006, government officials moved their offices in the former capital of Korormarker to Melekeok, located 20 km northeast of Koror on Babelthuap Islandmarker.

Wake Islandmarker (USA) 2 Wake Islandmarker UM
(USA) 199 68,688 345.2 Pago Pagomarker, FagatogomarkerFagatogomarker is the seat of government of American Samoamarker.

(NZmarker) 240 20,811 86.7 Avarua CK
(Chilemarker) 163.6 3,791 23.1 Hanga Roamarker CL
(France) 3,961 257,847 61.9 Papeetemarker PF
(USA) 28,311 1,283,388 72.8 Honolulumarker US
(NZ) 260 2,134 8.2 Alofimarker NU
(UKmarker) 5 47 10 Adamstownmarker PN
2,944 214,265 60.7 Apiamarker WS
(NZ) 10 1,431 143.1 —Tokelau, a domain of New Zealand, has no capital: each atoll has its own administrative centre.

748 106,137 141.9 Nuku alofamarker TO
26 11,146 428.7 Funafutimarker TV
(France) 274 15,585 56.9 Mata-Utumarker WF
Total 9,037,695 38,894,851 4.3
Total minus mainland Australia 1,350,845 17,844,851 13.2

See also: List of Oceanian countries by population

Interpretative details and controversies

Map of Oceania
Regions of Oceania
  • New Zealandmarker is the western corner of the Polynesian Triangle. Its indigenous Māori constitute one of the major cultures of Polynesia. It is also, however, considered part of Australasia. More restricted definitions of the region may exclude New Zealand.
  • Hawaiimarker is the northern corner of the Polynesian Triangle and is generally included in Oceania, though politically it is part of the United Statesmarker. The Hawaiian language is a Polynesian member of the Oceanic language family, and Hawaiian culture is one of the major cultures of Polynesia.
  • The U.S. territories in the North Pacific are generally considered part of Oceania.
  • Rapa Nui, or Easter Islandmarker, is the eastern corner of the Polynesian triangle. A Polynesian island in the eastern Pacific Ocean and part of the territory of Chilemarker, it is generally included in Oceania, in which case the most easterly place in Polynesia and Oceania is its dependency Isla Salas y Gómezmarker 415 km to the East.
  • The line in Indonesiamarker dividing Oceania from Asia varies in location and is sometimes considered to be the Wallace Line. See the transcontinental country article.
  • East Timormarker is often reckoned as a part of Oceania due to its location to the east of the Wallace Line and its cultural ties to Pacific peoples. (See transcontinental country) Biogeographically, East Timor lies within Wallacea, an ecological transition zone between Asia and Australasia. This transition is less known and less favoured these days as a continental boundary.
  • Australia is sometimes not included in Oceania. Terms such as Pacific Islands or South Sea Islands might be used to describe Oceania without Australia (and New Zealand). The term "Australasia" invariably includes Australia, and usually includes New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and some other parts of Oceania. This term is sometimes controversial, though, as it may may be interpreted as implying an association with Asia — a separate continent — or too great an association with Australia. The term is actually derived from the word "Austral", meaning "of, relating to, or coming from the south". This word represents the common root of both names: Australia and Australasia.
  • Although Christmas Islandmarker and the Cocos Islandsmarker belong to the Commonwealth of Australia, they are west of Sumatramarker and are commonly associated with Asia, and not with Oceania.
  • In its widest sense, the term may embrace the entire insular region between Asia and the Americas, thereby including other islands in the Pacific Rim such as the Ryukyumarker, Kurilmarker and Aleutianmarker islands, the Japanese Archipelagomarker and Taiwanmarker.
  • Amateur radio defines the continental boundaries somewhat differently. The Worked All Continents award includes all of Indonesia and the Philippines in Oceania, places Easter Island with Chile, and makes some other minor changes.


Oceania is one of eight terrestrial ecozones, which constitute the major ecological regions of the planet. The Oceania ecozone includes all of Micronesia, Fijimarker, and all of Polynesia except New Zealand. New Zealand, New Guinea and nearby islands, Australia, the Solomon Islandsmarker, Vanuatumarker, and New Caledoniamarker constitute the separate Australasia ecozone.


Pacific Games

The Pacific Games (formerly known as the South Pacific Games) is a multi-sport event, much like the Olympics, (albeit on a much smaller scale), with participation exclusively from countries around the Pacific. It is held every four years and began in 1963.

Rugby codes

Rugby League and Rugby Union are two of the region's most popular sports. Rugby union being the national sport of New Zealand, Samoa, Fiji and Tonga. Rugby League is the national sport in Papua New Guinea (the second most populous country in Oceania after Australia) and is very popular in Australia and has a significant following in New Zealand.

Australia has won the Rugby League World Cup a record 9 times. New Zealand won their first World Cup in 2008. Australia hosted the second tournament in 1957. Australia and New Zealand jointly hosted it in 1968 and 1977. New Zealand hosted the final for the first time during the worldwide 1985-1988 tournament and Australia hosted the most recent one in 2008.Australia has won the Rugby World Cup a record 2 times. New Zealand won the inaugural World Cup in 1987. Australia and New Zealand jointly hosted the World Cup in 1987. Australia hosted it in 2003 and New Zealand is to host it in 2011.


Cricket is a popular summer sport in Australia and New Zealandmarker. Australia had ruled International cricket as the number one team for more than a decade, and have won the last three Cricket World Cups. New Zealandmarker is also considered a strong competitor in the sport, with the New Zealand Cricket Team, also called the Black Caps, enjoying success in many competitions. Both Australia and New Zealandmarker are Full members of the ICC. Fijimarker, Vanuatumarker and Papua New Guineamarker are some of the Assosciate/Affiliate members of the ICC from Oceania that are governed by the East Asia-Pacific Cricket Council. Beach Cricket, a greatly simplified variant of Cricket played on a sand beach, is also a popular recreational sport in Australia.

Cricket is culturally a significant sport for summer in Oceania. The Boxing Day Test is very popular in Australia, conducted every year on December, 26th at the Melbourne Cricket Groundmarker, Melbournemarker.

Australian rules football

Australian rules football is the national sport in Nauru and is very popular in Australia. It is also very popular in Papua New Guinea.

Football (soccer)

The Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) is one of six football confederations under the auspices of FIFAmarker, the international governing body of the sport. The OFC is the only confederation without an automatic qualification to the World Cup Finals. Currently the winner of the OFC qualification tournament must play off against an Asian confederation side to qualify for the World Cup.

Currently, Vanuatumarker is the only country in Oceania to call football (soccer) its national sport.

Oceania has only been represented at four World Cup Finals — Australia in 1974 and 2006 and New Zealand in 1982 and 2010. However, Australia is now no longer a member of the Oceania Football Confederation, having joined the Asian Football Confederation in 2006.

Both Australia and New Zealand have qualified for the 2010 World Cup making it the first time two countries from Oceania countries have qualified for the World Cup at the same time.

See also


  1. List of IOC members (122) by continent. International Olympic Committee: 112th session, Moscow 2001
  2. Merriam Webster's Online Dictionary (based on Collegiate vol., 11th ed.) 2006. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc.
  3. See, e.g., The Atlas of Canada - The World - Continents
  4. "Oceania". 2005. The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Columbia University Press.
  5. Ben Finney, The Other One-Third of the Globe, Journal of World History, Vol. 5, No. 2, Fall, 1994.
  6. The use and scope of this term varies. The UN designation for this subregion is "Australia and New Zealand."
  7. Max Cryer, Curious Kiwi Words, 2002, p153 - "A larger portion of the rest of the world calmly refers to this geographic area as Oceania, a term many New Zealanders have never heard, let alone used."
  9. Britannica Online Encyclopedia
  10. FIFA world cup 2010 - Oceania preliminary competition

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