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OCEANIA AND ANTARCTICA

OCEANIA

What is Oceania?

Oceania is the region in the central and southern Pacific that includes Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and the islands that compose Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia.

Who owns all of those islands in the Pacific Ocean?

There are hundreds of islands in the Pacific Ocean. While many are part of independent countries, others remain colonies or vestiges of colonial empires.

What is Micronesia?

The region known as Micronesia consists of islands east of the Philippines, west of the International Date Line, north of the equator, and south of the Tropic of Cancer. Approximately 600 of the islands in this area united in 1986 to form an independent country, the Federated States of Micronesia. Though 600 islands joined the Federation, there are approximately 1,500 other islands in the region, including the independent countries of the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, and Palau.

What is Polynesia?

Polynesia consists of islands in the region bounded by Hawaii in the north and New Zealand in the southwest. The region includes the countries of Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu. Also located in this area is the colony of French Polynesia, which includes Tahiti and 117 other islands and atolls.

The Great Barrier Reef near Australia is the largest coral reef in the world, as well as a protected marine park that draws tourists from around the globe.

The Great Barrier Reef near Australia is the largest coral reef in the world, as well as a protected marine park that draws tourists from around the globe.

What is Melanesia?

Located northeast of Australia, Melanesia is a small region that lies south of the equator and west of 180 degrees longitude, but excludes New Zealand. Melanesia includes the countries of Vanuatu and Fiji as well as the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia.

What is a coral reef?

Coral reefs are formed by the accumulation of calcium carbonate that comes from the external skeletons of tiny animals called coral polyps. The polyps live in shallow, warm water, and thus congregate around islands in the tropics, where coral reefs are abundant.

Where is the largest coral reef in the world?

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef in the world. Located just off the northeastern coast of Australia, it extends for over 1,200 miles (1,930 kilometers). Much of the area is now protected as a marine park.

What is an atoll?

In addition to reefs, coral can also form atolls. Atolls are formed when a volcano, around which coral often grows, erodes away, leaving a circular wall of coral with a lagoon at the center.

How did the Guano Island Act help fertilize America?

In 1856, the United States Congress passed the Guano Island Act, which allowed the United States to take possession of any unclaimed island that contained guano. Guano, the excrement of sea birds, was mined for use as fertilizer before the widespread use of chemical fertilizers. Beginning in 1857, the Baker and Howland Islands, located southwest of Hawaii, were mined by the United States until their guano was depleted in 1891.

How did the bikini get its name?

In 1946, the United States began to test atomic weapons on the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. It was also in the late 1940s when the two-piece bathing suit made its debut and took its name from the intensely publicized Bikini Atoll.

How do the people on the tiny islands in the Southern Pacific Ocean go shopping?

Most basic goods can be bought on each populated island, and larger items can be shipped via airplane. When residents need to travel between islands, they often take to the air. Each island has an airstrip of adequate length for its own transportation needs. In the past, inhabitants used boats as their primary means of transportation between islands.

Where did Gauguin live?

The French painter Paul Gauguin moved to Tahiti in 1891 and later to other islands in French Polynesia to escape European civilization.

Which country has more languages than any other in the world?

Papua New Guinea is home to more than 700 different languages. The most common languages spoken there are Motu and pidgin English.

Where did the mutineers of the Bounty land?

In 1789, members of the crew of the HMS Bounty mutinied. After having dropped off 19 other members of the crew, including Captain William Bligh, the mutineers landed on the uninhabited island of Pitcairn. While the captain and his loyal crew successfully returned to England, the mutineers established a community composed of nine male mutineers, six male Polynesians, and 12 female Polynesians who had also been on board the Bounty. In 1856, approximately 200 of the mutineers' descendants voluntarily moved from Pitcairn Island to Norfolk Island because of overpopulation.

Where did Charles Darwin develop his theory of natural selection?

Charles Darwin graduated from Cambridge University in 1831 and spent the next five years of his life as a naturalist on board the HMS Beagle. The Beagle traveled around the world, including among its destinations the Galapagos Islands, west of South America, where Darwin spent six weeks collecting data from which he developed his theories of natural selection, published in Origin of the Species in 1859.

 
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