Oceania Countries and Regions

Oceania Countries and Regions

Regions of Oceania

Oceania, being made up of a large number of islands, was divided into four regions, in order to facilitate references on each territory. These are:

1) Australasia

It covers the territories of countries such as Australia, New Zealand and New Guinea, which are the largest islands, and also islands in the regions close to Indonesia.

2) Melanesia

Meaning “black islands”, it encompasses the territories Maluku Islands, New Guinea, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Fiji, among others, located in the northeast and east of Australia.

3) Micronesia

It covers the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Palau, Micronesia and Nauru states. In this region there are dependencies in the United States located north of Melanesia.

4) Polynesia

It covers the territories of the islands located in the south of the Pacific Ocean, as well as the areas of Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu.


In general, most of the islands that make up Oceania originate from volcanic activities and their sizes vary. The territories have different characteristics, with some mountainous regions and others with flat relief.

It is possible to find areas with a predominance of deserts and savannas. The climate is also diverse, with areas of arid and semi-arid, subtropical and tropical Mediterranean regions being found throughout the continent. The countries were colonized mainly by the British, who still have territories on the continent. Australia was incorporated in 1770, and New Zealand around 1840.

Country Unemployment (percent) Youth unemployment (percent) Percentage of land used for agriculture (percent)
Australia 5.3 (2019) 12.1 (2019) 48.2 (2016)
Fiji 4.2 (2019) 14.5 (2019) 23.3 (2016)
Kiribati 42.0 (2016)
Marshall Islands 0.0 63.9 (2016)
Micronesia Federation 0.0 31.4 (2016)
Nauru 20.0 (2016)
New Zealand 4.8 (2019) 12.5 (2019) 40.5 (2016)
Palau 10.9 (2016)
Papua New Guinea 2.4 (2019) 4.4 (2019) 2.6 (2016)
Solomon Islands 1.8 (2019) 4.5 (2019) 3.9 (2016)
Samoa 8.5 (2019) 18.4 (2019) 12.4 (2016)
Tonga 1.0 (2019) 3.4 (2019) 45.8 (2016)
Tuvalu 60.0 (2016)
Vanuatu 5.4 (2019) 10.9 (2019) 15.3 (2016)

Some countries stand out in some ways. These are:

1) Australia

According to Countryaah, the Australia, largest country of Oceania, comprising an area of approximately 7,692,024 km2. Due to its territorial extension, it is considered by many as an island continent. The country is one of the most developed in the world with low rates of violence and poverty. It also corresponds to the largest economy in Oceania, with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of approximately US $ 1.313 trillion, and is the 13th largest economy in the world.

The country’s economy is based mainly on the service sector, which accounts for about 71% of its GDP. Nevertheless, the primary sector is also quite relevant, as it deals with exports to countries like Japan, China, the United States and others. The tour also adds to its economy, accounting for about 3.9% of GDP.

2) New Zealand

New Zealand is located southwest of the Pacific Ocean. The country consists of two main islands, the North Island and the South Island, and other smaller ones. Geographically isolated, the country is one of the largest economies in Oceania, being considered one of the most developed countries in the world. Its Human Development Index (HDI) is among the best in both education, health and quality of life.

It is considered the second largest economy on the continent, with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of approximately US $ 198.2 billion. The economy is based on the extractive industry and tourism. About 2.4 million tourists visit the country each year.

3) Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is located in Melanesia. The country is one of the largest economies in Oceania, as well as one of the most populous countries on the continent, with a GDP of US $ 18.45 million.

Its economy is based mainly on the primary sector, with agriculture; in the secondary sector, with the wool, mining and construction industry; and also in the service sector. The country exports products such as oil, gold, coffee, cocoa, among others. However, despite the great economic development, poverty rates are very high in the territory.

About 6,187,591 inhabitants live in the country, making it the second most populous country in Oceania, second only to Australia. The country is also known for its great cultural diversity. About 848 languages are spoken in it, distributed in traditional communities.

3) Tonga

Tonga is a constitutional monarchy in Oceania. The archipelago is located over 3000 kilometers northeast of Sydney in Australia and approximately 640 kilometers east of Fiji; in the Pacific south of the equator and west of the date limit. The 169 islands are also called the Friendship Islands and are the only monarchy in the Pacific.

Tonga (the name) means ‘the holy island’.

National anthem is’ Ko e fasi ‘oe tu’ ioe ‘Otu Tonga ‘ (‘Song of the King of the Tonga Islands’).

Geography and environment

The islands lie from north to south in two parallel rows of approximately 800 kilometers of islands and atolls. They are divided into 3 main groups: Vavau in the north, Haapai (central group) and Tongatapu in the south. Four of the western islands are active volcanoes; most islands are flat atolls. The highest point is at Kao, 1030 meters above sea level. The capital Nukualofa is located on Tongatapu, the largest island and a coral island. To the east and south of the islands is the world’s third-largest deep sea, the Tonga pit, 10,882 meters. In 2014 and January 2015, a now 1.6 x 2 kilometer submarine volcanic island ascended from the sea 65 kilometers northwest of Nuku’alofa; the island is now 149 meters high.

Areas not used for agriculture have tropical rainforests. Eua has the largest number of species of trees. Fangu Kakai and the Tongatapu Lagoon area have mangroves, and there are swamps on low mud flats. Many cultivated tropical plants have been introduced.

The only native mammal is a fruit bat species on Tongatapu and the introduced mammals include Polynesian rat, dog and cat. There are about 20 species of terrestrial birds, 2 of which are endemic (native): tonga whistles and tonga furnace. There are seabird colonies, including tropical birds, frigate birds, well oaks and the sweetbirds. There are 20 species of reptiles; amphibians do not exist. There are many molluscs, coral animals and fish species on and near the coral reefs.

Tonga has a tropical ocean climate with an annual average temperature ranging from 23 o C in the south to 27 o C in the north. Rainfall also increases from the south (1500 millimeters annually) to the north (2700 millimeters annually). It rains most in January-April and especially in the northern islands.

People and society

The Polynesian Tongans make up 96.6 percent and partial Tongans 1.7 percent of the population; There are some Chinese. 23.7 percent of the population is urban and more than 70 percent of the population lives on Tongatapu (The World Factbook, 2015). 36 of the 169 islands are inhabited.

Life expectancy at birth is 77.59 years for women and 71.53 years for men. Overpopulation has at times led to emigration to New Zealand, Australia and the United States.

English and Tongan are official languages.

Almost the entire population has a Christian faith. 64.9 percent are Protestants and belong to the Free Wesleyan Church (36 percent), Free Church of Tonga (12 percent), Church of Tonga (7 percent) and Tokaikolo (2.5 percent). 18 percent are Mormons and 15 percent are Roman Catholics. (Tonga Department of Statistics, 2013)

State and politics

Tonga is a constitutional monarchy. The political system is stable and the king is head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

The election system was changed in April 2014. The government is nominated by the Prime Minister. He and the Deputy Prime Minister are elected indirectly by the Legislative Assembly, ‘Fale Alea’, which consists of 1 chamber of 26 representatives; 17 are selected directly and 9 indirectly. There are elections every 3 years.

Tonga is divided into 5 divisions (administrative areas): Eua Haapai, Niuas, Tongatapu and Vavau); these are divided into a total of 23 districts.

The defense, His Majesty’s Armed Forces (HMAF), consists of a land force, a navy and a flight. It is not conscientious.

Tonga is a member of the UN and several of the UN’s special organizations, Commonwealth of Nations, World Health Organization, Pacific Islands Forum and the Cotonou Agreement.

Economy and business

In 2014, agriculture contributed 18.1 percent to GDP, industry 21.1 percent and the service sector 60.8 percent. (The World Factbook, 2015)

All land is owned by the Crown; it is leased to 33 noble families. The main agricultural products are coconuts, pumpkin, vanilla, tomatoes, yams, coffee, taro, sweet potatoes, bananas, peanuts, watermelons and lemons. There are large coconut palm plantations. The most important livestock are cattle, pigs, goats and chickens. Fishing is mostly driven for local consumption and is under development. Many residents do not participate in the money economy.

The industry is based on agricultural products and the production of furniture, leather goods and building materials. Some craft products are produced.

Tonga has a current account deficit abroad and receives financial assistance from New Zealand, Australia, China and EU countries. Money sent from Tongans abroad is a significant source of income.

Knowledge and culture

Schooling is free and compulsory in state-run schools for children aged 6-14. High school is 7 years old. The University of the South Pacific has a center in Tonga. Many Tongans take higher education abroad.

Tonga has 2 weekly newspapers and no daily newspapers.

There are 2 state-owned and 2 privately owned television stations. Radio Tonga is a state-owned radio station; there are 3 privately owned radio stations.

In the 1960s and 1970s, ‘Epedi Hau’ofa (1939-2009) published short stories, including Tales of the Tikong, and Koni Helu Thaman (1946-) wrote poetry.

Traditional songs, such as ‘ula’, ‘otuhaka’ and ‘me’etu’upaki’ are performed mainly by ceremonies. ‘Hiva kakala’ is love songs; several were made by Queen Salote in the 1950s. Methodist singers sing hymns. Western pop music is popular with younger Tongans. Tongan pop music is also performed in the Tongan diaspora in the US, Australia and New Zealand.

Mixed dance, ‘hollohola’, is performed mostly in cities. ‘Koniseti’ (concert) consists of dance and song; the music is melodic and the instruments guitar or brass band.

Rugby is national sport.

Mat weaving, wood carving and canoeing are widely used art. Many Tongan men have extensive tattoos.

Oceania Countries and Regions