thumb oceaniaArea: 8,525,989 sq km
Population: Abt. 36 million
Languages: 28 (official)

Oceania Overview

Oceania is a region centered on the islands of the tropical Pacific Ocean. It contains four major traditions - Polynesia, Melanesia, Micronesia, and Australia. The continent of Oceania is often called Australia as well, but includes more countries than just Australia.

It is the smallest continent by size and the second smallest in terms of population, located to the southeast of Asia. It is made up of Australia and a number of island countries. Oceania and its islands are surrounded by the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.

Oceania is located in the southern hemisphere. This means that its winter is during June, July, and August and its summer during the months of December, January, and February. Much of Oceania's land mass is desert, but there are also very lush areas. Oceania has some very unique animal life for such a small continent. Some examples are the Koala Bear (which is not really a bear, but a marsupial), the platypus, and the Kangaroo.

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In terms of its physical geography, the islands of Oceania are often divided into four different sub-regions based on the geologic processes playing a role in their physical development. The first of these is Australia. It is separated because of its location in the middle of the Indo-Australian Plate and the fact that due to its location there was no mountain building during its development. Instead, Australia's current physical landscape features were formed by mainly by erosion.

The second landscape category in Oceania is the islands found on the collision boundaries between the Earth's crustal plates. These are found specifically in the South Pacific. For example at the collision boundary between the Indo-Australian and Pacific plates are places like New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

The North Pacific portion of Oceania also features these types of landscapes along the Eurasian and Pacific plates. These plate collisions are responsible for the formation of mountains like those in New Zealand which climb to over 10,000 feet (3,000 m). Volcanic islands such as Fiji are the third category of landscape types found in Oceania. These islands typically rise from the seafloor through hotspots in the Pacific Ocean basin. Most of these areas consist of very small islands with high mountain ranges. Finally, coral reef islands and atolls such as Tuvalu are the last type of landscape found in Oceania. Atolls specifically are responsible for the formation of low-lying land regions, some with enclosed lagoons.

Most of Oceania is divided into two climate zones. The first of these is temperate and the second is tropical. Most of Australia and all of New Zealand are within the temperate zone and most of the island areas in the Pacific are considered tropical. Oceania's temperate regions feature high levels of precipitation, cold winters and warm to hot summers. The tropical regions in Oceania are hot and wet year round.

Economy

Fishing and tourism are important to Oceania's economy and its development. Fishing is a significant source of revenue because many islands have maritime exclusive economic zones that extend for 200 nautical miles and many small islands have granted permission to foreign countries to fish the region via fishing licenses.

Tourism is also important to Oceania because many of the tropical islands like Fiji offer aesthetic beauty, while Australia and New Zealand are modern cities with modern amenities. New Zealand has also become an area centered on the growing field of ecotourism.

 

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