Oceania is rightly called the youngest continent; it is the one that was most recently inhabited by humans, most recently discovered and colonized by Europeans and then only partially decolonized.
Oceania (Prehistory and History – The Alien Ships)
European notions of a large, as yet unknown continent, Terra Australis Incognita, lured from the early 1500’s. a growing flow of ships to the area. As the first European, Fernando de Magellan crossed the Pacific in 1520-21. Spanish, Dutch, British, and French explorers followed, but the final mapping of Oceania’s islands was first carried out by James Cook in the late 1700’s.
With the industrial revolution in Europe and the United States, the need for raw materials and markets increased, and most oceanic peoples therefore came during the 1800’s. in ever-increasing contact with traders, whalers, recruiters, missionaries, and colonists. Many of the local populations were drastically reduced by external diseases, and iron tools and firearms brought about great upheavals in all communities. The widespread Christian missionary activity at the same time had a strengthening and subversive effect on the communities; strengthening because it defended against the worst abuses of the whites and created the basis for a new cultural exchange, subversive because it broke down the existing basis of life and created a negative view of the cultural heritage. In Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii, a massive influx of foreigners. According to AbbreviationFinder, the largest countries in Oceania are Australia and New Zealand.
Oceania (Prehistory and History – Colonial Times)
Oceania’s location in relation to the world’s economic and political centers was a major reason why a direct colonization took place so relatively late. In New Zealand, colonial rule was officially introduced in 1840, but in the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu) only in 1906. Spain, Britain, France, Germany, Japan, USA, Chile, New Zealand and Australia have all had colonial control over areas in the region, the latter two as deputies or successors to the British colonial power. In most places, colonial times were marked by control and management and involved only minimal economic development or education of the local population. In some countries listed by Countryaah.com, such as Fiji, New Caledonia, Nauru and Ocean Island, where the colonial power could exploit special resources through mining or plantation operations.
Oceania (Prehistory and History – Migrations)
There is still a great deal of uncertainty about Oceania’s prehistory, but some probable main lines can be drawn. More than 40,000 years ago, Australian hunters and gatherers crossed the waters around the Wallace Line in simple vessels between Borneo and Sulawesi and settled in New Guinea and Australia. The descendants of these people have gradually spread over most of Melanesia. Around 3000 BC. the first Mongoloid and Austronesian-speaking peoples from the Southeast Asian islands penetrated into Melanesia. Their culture included farming with simple tools and pig farming, forms of business that also the Australoids in the Melanesian area seem to have developed. The Austronesians spread to most Melanesian islands, and there was cultural contact with the Papuan peoples, through dosing.
Austronesian coastal settlements in the Melanesian region, particularly characterized by characteristic lapita clay vessels and the ability to build and sail canoes, are dated to approximately 1500 BC From these peoples descended the first to settle in Fiji and in Western Polynesia around 1300 BC. Starting in Tonga and Samoa, the gradual spread of people to all other parts of Polynesia continued. Easter Island was reached 300-500 AD, Hawaii approximately 650, and New Zealand approximately 700. It is likely that the peoples of Central and Eastern Micronesia are also direct descendants of Austronesian Lapita people from Melanesia or Western Polynesia, while Western Micronesia has probably been populated from the islands of Southeast Asia.
Oceania (Prehistory and History – Independence)
The worldwide decolonization reached Oceania relatively late. Samoa gained independence from New Zealand in 1962, and for the next two decades many other states followed. The US-dominated territories of Micronesia except Guam became independent in the 1980’s after difficult negotiations, while American Samoa has maintained a close connection with the United States. Hawaii was admitted as a state in the United States in 1959. France, as the only colonial power of the past, maintains control of its possessions of New Caledonia, French Polynesia, and Wallis and Futuna.
Modern oceanic societies are marked by colonial migrations and demarcations. In Papua New Guinea, an independence movement in Bougainville that belongs to Papua New Guinea but feels more closely linked to the Solomon Islands has waged an armed struggle against the state. In Fiji, equal groups of Melanesians and Fiji Indians (introduced as labor by the British colonial power) face each other in an ethnic conflict that in 1987 triggered a Melanesian military coup. In New Caledonia, canons have made several futile attempts to gain independence through armed uprising against the French-dominated majority. In New Zealand, Australia and Hawaii, the antagonisms between the indigenous minorities and the white majorities have led to numerous serious conflicts since the 1970’s.
Oceanic societies are characterized by an increasing divide between the educated elite attached to the state and the general population, which is tied to the subsistence economy. Externally, the countries’ economic dependence on the foreign powers, which have special interests in the area, continues.