Island continent of the Earth consisting of the continental platform of Australia, the islands of New Guinea and New Zealand, and the coral and volcanic archipelagos of Micronesia, Polynesia and Melanesia. All these islands are distributed throughout the Pacific Ocean. With an area of 9,008,458 km², it is the smallest continent on the planet.
Located between Asia and America, with the Australian island as the largest continental mass, followed by the much smaller and nearby islands of Papua New Guinea and New Zealand, plus some 25,000 small islands scattered throughout the Pacific.
The origin of the name Oceania goes back to the integration of different islands to the Australian continent in 1998. The first human settlers of Oceania came from Southeast Asia: the current Papuans and native Australians descend from them. This first human wave was followed by the Austronesians, also of Asian origin, who would extend eastward to Easter Island. The Spanish, with Fernando de Magallanes leading the expedition that would circumnavigate the world for the first time, discovered the Marianas and other islands of Oceania. Magellan would later die in the Philippines. Shortly thereafter the Portuguese explored the region: In 1525 they discovered the Carolinas and, the following year, New Guinea. In 1642 the Dutch travelled along the coast of Australia and discovered Tasmania, the Tonga Islands, Fiji and Bismark. Meanwhile, Spanish expeditions from Acapulco (Mexico) and Callao (Peru) set out and found numerous islands in the Pacific. In the 18th century it was the British and the French who explored the region. Between 1764 and 1770, the British toured Tahiti, Samoa, Solomon and the New Hebrides. James Cook, between 1768 and 1779, reached the Society Islands, New Zealand, the Marquesas, New Hebrides and Hawaii. The French explored the islands in parallel with the British. All these trips determined the distribution of Oceania between Great Britain, France and other countries. A term originally coined by the French explorer Jules Dumont d'Urville in 1831, Oceania has traditionally been divided into Micronesia, Melanesia, Polynesia and Australasia. For the most part it consists of small nations of a few islands. Australia is the only continental country.
The term Oceania covers a macro-geographical region located between Asia and America, with the Australian island as the largest continental mass, followed by the much smaller and nearby islands of Papua New Guinea and New Zealand, to which are added some 25,000 small islands scattered in the Pacific. The name "Oceania" is used because, unlike the other continents, it is composed mainly of the Pacific Ocean and the various adjacent seas. The territories of Oceania extend from southeast Asia across the Pacific Ocean to the Americas. With its extension of 9,008,458 km² it is the smallest continent in the world. It is bathed by the Indian, Antarctic and Pacific Oceans, and separated from Asia by the Timor and Arafura Seas, with a total of 25,760 km of coastline. The climate is strongly influenced by ocean currents, including El Niño, which causes periodic droughts, and the seasonal tropical low-pressure system, which produces cyclones in northern Australia. The desert or semi-arid region is the largest: 40% of its territory is covered by sand dunes. Oceania is the driest, flattest continent, with the oldest and least fertile soils. Curiously, the highest mountain in the country, Mount Mawson (2,745 m), is not located on the island of Australia itself, but on the small island of Heard, in the southern Indian Ocean. Mount Kosciuszko, at 2,228 m, is the main elevation of Australia's island
Oceania, since the arrival of European colonizers, was divided into a series of dependent territories, which began to achieve independence only from the mid-twentieth century, except for Australia and New Zealand, which did so at the beginning of that century. At present, there are still many non-independent territories, mainly colonies of the United Kingdom and France, dependencies of the United States and some territories with sovereignty agreements with Australia and New Zealand, which is added a province and commune of Chile that corresponds to Easter Island.
This region is the least populated in the world (with the exception of Antarctica) with approximately 33,554,546 inhabitants in 2007 (not counting the Háwai of the United States). This figure has increased considerably due to the high birth rate and low mortality rate in Oceania. The population is heterogeneous, since it is composed of the descendants of Europeans of British origin and other European immigrants, the indigenous people belonging to different ethnic-cultural groups, such as Polynesians, Melanesians, Micronesians, Papuans and others, mestizos, and a minority of blacks and mulattos. The most used language is English, followed by French, and in some islands mainly belonging to the Chilean sovereignty, as in Easter Island, Spanish is spoken. It is also spoken in a minority on the U.S. island of Guam, although a Creole language such as Chamorro, spoken on the island of Guam and also in the Northern Mariana Islands, has been derived from the Spanish language. In addition, there are other local Creole languages of Spanish influence, which are spoken in the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau, both of which are part of the Carolinas archipelago. The indigenous languages have been preserved in their different dialects, some are reaching great importance as the Maori, in New Zealand. Protestantism is the most professed religion, followed by Catholicism, as well as the rituals and animistic beliefs of the indigenous population.