Oceania is the smallest continent on Earth, being mostly composed of Australia, the main and most developed country in the region.
The Oceania is a continent located southeast of Asia, comprising a set of islands added to Australia, the latter regarded as a landmass called “Australasia”. It has a total area of 8,480,355 km², where approximately 38 million people live. Because it was the last continent to be colonized by Europeans, Oceania is called “brand new continent”, distinguishing Europe (the old world) and America (the new world), according to the Eurocentric regionalization of the Earth.
Although there are thousands of islands in the region, there are only 14 independent states, in addition to some territories or colonies from other countries, with emphasis on French Polynesia, the French protectorate where Tahiti is located. There is a regionalization involving these islands, dividing them into three major zones: Melanesia (which means “black islands”), Polynesia (“many islands”) and Micronesia (“small islands”), as we can see on the map Next:
With the exception of the region that comprises the Australian shield, all the units of relief in Oceania are geologically recent, with emphasis on the numerous volcanic islands. The large number of islands of this type is linked to the intense presence of volcanism along the oceanic zones, thanks to the meeting between two tectonic plates that occurs in that location.
As it is crossed by the Equator to the north and the Tropic of Capricorn to the south, the continent has a predominantly tropical climate and vegetation, with the presence of one of the largest deserts in the world in the interior of Australia, largely the result of the actions continental climate. According to Abbreviationfinder, Australia is abbreviated as AU.
In economic terms, the two main countries are Australia and New Zealand, considered one of the only developed countries in the world that are located in the southern hemisphere. They are great mineral powers and, in sheep farming, in addition to having advanced agro-industrial and tourism models, this last activity is predominant in the rest of the continent. With the exception of the two countries mentioned, all nations depend on food imports for their own support, given that the existence of agricultural land is scarce.
Below, you will find texts that will meet the objective of establishing a greater and better understanding of the many issues related to Oceania.
Kiribati, Island State and Republic of Oceania. Kiribati is located on both sides of the equator in the western Pacific. The country, which consists of one isolated coral island (Banaba) and 32 atolls, is spread over 3,500,000 square kilometers. The capital is Bairiki. Kiribati is the easternmost country in the world and the only country in all of the Earth’s four hemispheres.
Kiribati is nearly 3900 kilometers east-west and 2050 kilometers north-south, and is located on both sides of the 180 ° meridian. The entire country has the same date since the date limit was moved eastward in 1995. The nearest neighboring countries are Tuvalu in the south and Nauru in the west.
The country consists of the three archipelago of the Gilbert Islands (16 atolls), the Phoenix Islands (eight atolls) and the Lineage islands (eight atolls) as well as Banaba, which is isolated farthest west. The country is considered one of the poorest island states in the Pacific and is characterized by the UN as a country that can disappear if sea levels continue to rise.
Kiribati (the name) is the native pronunciation of ‘Gilberts’ (after the archipelago of Gilbert Islands), since –10 is pronounced –ss. The archipelago is named after British captain Thomas Gilbert.
National anthem is ‘Teirake kaini Kiribati’ (‘Get up, Kiribati’).
Geography and environment
All of the islands except Banaba (Ocean Island) with the highest point 81 meters above sea level are low atolls which are the peaks of submarine volcanoes. Kiritimati in the Line Islands is the world’s largest atoll. The soil is thin, lime- and saline, poor in water and not fertile.
The vegetation is relatively sparse and consists mainly of coconut trees, screw palms and breadfruit trees.
Kiribati has few land animals; all are introduced, including Polynesian rat, dog and pig. Of the approximately 75 bird species, most are seabirds, including large frigate birds, red-footed owls and brown-footed owls. Waders appear in the winter. On the coast there are a few hundred species of fish; economically most important are two species of tuna and several species of fly fish. The coastal waters have many species of clams, snails and corals.
The climate varies somewhat by location. Banaba, the Line Islands and the Phoenix Islands have a maritime equatorial climate. The islands in the north and south have tropical maritime climate. The rainy season is from October to March and has large rainfall variations: from about 500 millimeters a year near the equator to about 3000 millimeters a year in the northernmost islands. Due to the low altitude of the islands, long periods of drought are common. Cyclones occasionally appear. The average temperatures are 27–29 °C throughout the year; The daily and monthly variations are small.
People and society
Almost the entire population (99 percent) are Micronesian Kiribatians. In some islands there are Polynesians, Chinese and Europeans. More than 90 percent live in the Gilbert Islands in the west and about 40 percent of the country’s inhabitants live on the Tarawa Atoll with the capital Bairiki. According to Countryaah.com, the current Oceania population is 43,021,460. 44.3 percent of the population is urban. 21 of the islands are inhabited.
Life expectancy is 68.39 years for women and 63.36 years for men (2015).
Kiribati has no state religion. 55.8 percent of the population are Roman Catholics, 33.5 percent are Protestant (Presbyterian), and 4.7 percent are Mormons; 2.3 percent are Baha’is (2015).
The official language is English but is used little outside Tarawa. The people speak the Micronesian language Kiribatically.
|Country||Number of residents||Population|
|Australia||25 364 307 (2019)||92% whites, mainly of British and Irish descent, 6% Asians, 2% Aborigines and others|
|Fiji||889 953 (2019)||ethnic Fijians 57%, Indians 37%, Europeans, Chinese and the rest 6% (Census 2007)|
|Kiribati||117 606 (2019)||almost all residents are micronesians|
|Marshall Islands||58 791 (2019)||Micronesian peoples 98%, other 2% (2006)|
|Micronesia Federation||113 815 (2019)||micronesians in the majority, in addition to small groups of Polynesians, Chinese and Filipinos|
|Nauru||12 581 (2019)||persons of mixed Melanesian, Micronesian and Polynesian origin are in the majority; minorities of other South Sea residents as well as small groups of Europeans and Chinese|
|New Zealand||4,917,000 (2019)||About three quarters of the population are of European origin, just over 15% identify themselves as Maori, in addition there are a larger group of Asians and Polynesians|
|Palau||18 008 (2019)||mainly Micronesians, in addition mainly Filipinos and Chinese|
|Papua New Guinea||8 776 109 (2019)||vast majority of Papuans; Melanesians are the largest minority; small groups of Micronesian, Chinese and European origin|
|Solomon Islands||669 823 (2019)||majority of melanesias; small groups of Polynesians, Micronesians, Europeans, Chinese and others|
|Samoa||197 097 (2019)||polynesian|
|Tonga||104 494 (2019)||polynesian|
|Tuvalu||11 646 (2019)||polynesian|
|Vanuatu||299 882 (2019)||melanesier (ni-vanuatu)|
State and politics
Kiribati is a democratic republic within the Commonwealth of Nations. The president is the head of state and the head of government. The President is elected for a four-year term and may be re-elected twice. The government consists of the president, the vice president, the prosecutor and ten ministers. All are members of the National Assembly ‘Maneaba ni Maungatabu’, which has one chamber with 42 members elected in the general election, and one member representing the exiled community on the island of Banaban. Two political groups are reminiscent of parties. The President is elected from among three or four members elected by and from the National Assembly after he is newly elected.
The country is divided into six districts and 21 island councils.
Kiribati lacks military defense after it was abolished in 1976. The only allowed force is the police who have a patrol boat. For its defense, the country relies on Australia and New Zealand.
Kiribati is a member of the UN and some of the UN’s special organizations, such as the World Bank, as well as the International Monetary Fund, the Cotonou Agreement, The Commonwealth and the Pacific Islands Forum.
The first settlers came from the west about 3000 years BCE. Substantial immigration took place from Samoa in the 13th century, and the inhabitants organized themselves into small communities under a chief.
The first Europeans were probably Spaniards from the late 1500s and early 1600s. The islands became officially known after British Admiral John Byron arrived there in 1765. James Cook discovered Kiritimati on December 24, 1777 and therefore called this island Christmas Island. In 1788 the British sailed among the atolls without landing.
British and Americans caught sperm whaling from the islands in the 1800s until about 1870. A Christian mission was run from 1857. The islands became a British protectorate in 1892 and Banaba was annexed in 1900 after phosphate was discovered there. In 1916, the islands became the British Crown Colony of Gilbert and Ellice Islands. Line Islands was added in 1919 and most of the Phoenix Islands (Phoenix Islands) in 1937; The US claimed these islands. Tarawa and other islands were occupied by Japan in 1941. US forces, after hard fighting, expelled the Japanese after the Battle of Tarawa in 1943.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Kiritimati was used by British and Americans to test bombs of hydrogen bombs. Limited internal self-government was introduced at Tarawa in 1967. The Ellice Islands were separated from the rest of the colony in 1976 and became the Republic of Tuvalu in 1978. The Gilbert Islands became the Republic of Kiribati on July 12, 1979. In the same year, the United States waived the claim on the Line Islands and the Phoenix Islands.
In 1989, Kiribati came on the UN list of nations most at risk of ending up in the sea if sea levels continue to rise as a result of global warming. Kiribati joined the UN in 1999.
In 2015, the country was hit by cyclone Pam, which caused major material destruction.
Economy and business
Kiribati is one of the world’s poorest countries with few natural resources. The inhabitants are mostly fishing and farming for their own needs. The main food products are banana, papaya, coconut, yams and the fruits of screw palm and bread fruit tree. Seaweed and kelp are also collected. Pigs and poultry are the main livestock.
Commercially viable phosphate deposits were depleted in 1979, which had a devastating effect on Kiribati’s economy. Revenue from fishing licenses and transfers from Kiribatians abroad account for almost half of the country’s foreign exchange sources; In addition, revenues come from tourism (more than a fifth of the country’s income). Kiribati is heavily dependent on food imports and substantial financial assistance from abroad (in 2013 more than 43 percent of the government’s financial income). There is a permanent deficit on the trade balance abroad.
Knowledge and culture
There is a compulsory and free school for nine years for children aged 6-14. All inhabited islands have primary school; High schools are found on some of the islands. A college educates teachers, nurses, technicians and practitioners of maritime subjects. Many study in other countries, such as the University of South Pacific at Fiji, and in Cuba.
There is one TV station and access to Australian and American TV stations, and one state-run radio station.
One newspaper is published twice a week and three newspapers are weekly newspapers.
The best known author is the poet Teresia Teaiwa (1968–2017).
Kiribati has a traditional singing and dancing style; folk music is based on song. Dance is often performed standing with outstretched arms and few movements except for abrupt bird-like head movements, or as a hip dance, and accompanied by guitar after a drum.