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Overview

As many as 30,000 islands are scattered across the Pacific basin, four times as many as exist in all other seas and oceans combined. Of the 7,500 islands in the South Pacific, just 500 are permanently inhabited. The region is divided into three great cultural areas. Micronesia is largely north of the equator, while Melanesia forms an arc off eastern Australia from New Caledonia to New Guinea. The Polynesian triangle is anchored on Hawaii, Easter Island, and New Zealand. Tonga and Samoa are old Polynesia, inhabited for over 3,000 years, while French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, and the triangle's outer points were only reached by humans in ...

As many as 30,000 islands are scattered across the Pacific basin, four times as many as exist in all other seas and oceans combined. Of the 7,500 islands in the South Pacific, just 500 are permanently inhabited. The region is divided into three great cultural areas. Micronesia is largely north of the equator, while Melanesia forms an arc off eastern Australia from New Caledonia to New Guinea. The Polynesian triangle is anchored on Hawaii, Easter Island, and New Zealand. Tonga and Samoa are old Polynesia, inhabited for over 3,000 years, while French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, and the triangle's outer points were only reached by humans in the past 2,000 years. Fiji straddles Polynesia and Melanesia. The region's reefs, resorts, and people are its greatest attractions, and there's a wonderful diversity of landforms from sprawling coral atolls to soaring volcanic peaks. Fiji and Tahiti are the South Pacific's most popular destinations thanks to their many attractions and direct flights from all around the Pacific rim, while in Micronesia, Palau, Guam, and Saipan have the largest resorts.

David Stanley
About the Expert

David Stanley is the author of the Moon guidebooks Fiji, Tahiti, and South Pacific. He has been writing about the Pacific since 1979.

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David Stanley for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Pacific Ocean, includes member states Australia, the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanauatu.
  • Language: Irian Jaya, Papuan, Austronesian, English
  • Currency: Fijian Dollar
  • Research: Wikipedia | Islands of the Pacific Ocean
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight