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Countries of Australia and Oceania

Aerial view of Wallis Island, Micronesia
An aerial view of Wallis Island (in the background). The French territory of Wallis and Futuna Islands has a population of 11,000 and is situated in the South Pacific Ocean, west of Samoa and northeast of Fiji.
Image: Anna Vinet


Conventionally there are four main geographical regions or subregions in Oceania.

Australia/New Zealand Melanesia Micronesia Polynesia


Map of Oceania
Oceania, the ocean continent. The vast expanse of water between Asia and the Americas, with an area of 100 million square kilometers, is home to countless archipelagos and more than 10,000 islands. Due to rising sea levels and coastal erosion, many low-lying reef islands are threatened to be submerged.

Some Facts about Australia and Oceania

There are a variety of definitions of Oceania. The most plausible is to refer to the vast regions, island territories and adjacent seas in the Pacific Ocean, east of Maritime Southeast Asia and Australia and west of South America. (see the map below).

How many countries are there in Oceania?
In the vast area of Oceania, there are 14 independent countries and several dependent territories (see the list below).

The region consisting of Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, and neighboring islands in the Pacific Ocean is sometimes referred to as Australasia.

Oceania covers an area of approximately 100 million square kilometers; this is about one-fifth of Earth's surface area.

The water continent includes more than 10,000 islands. With a total land area (excluding Australia but including Papua New Guinea and New Zealand) of approximately 822,800 km² (317,700 sq mi), it is slightly larger than Turkey or somewhat smaller than half of Alaska.

By far the largest country in Oceania in terms of area is Australia with 7,692,024 km², followed by Papua New Guinea with 462,840 km² and New Zealand with 270,467 km².

The smallest independent country in Oceania is the island nation of Nauru, which covers an area of 21 km² (8 sq mi).


Map of the Australien Continent
Map of Australia

Australia is the smallest of the seven continents on Earth.

The first people to discover and settle Australia about 50,000 years ago were the ancestors of the Aboriginal Australians. The ancestors of today's indigenous Australians migrated by sea from Southeast Asia during the Pleistocene.

The discovery by the Europeans was a long time coming. It was not until 1606 that Dutch and Spanish explorers landed on the continent. In 1770 James Cook, a colorful figure in British colonial history, was on a quest to find the predicted Great South Land. He came across a vast stretch of unknown land when he arrived on the east coast of Australia, and in the usual blunt British fashion, he claimed the territory for the British Crown.

Between 1788 and 1868, the British used the continent as a penal colony.
Australia became independent from the United Kingdom in several steps, and it was not until the 3rd of March 1986 that Australia gained full independence from Great Britain.

Area of Australia
Including the adjacent island of Tasmania, Australia covers an area of 7,692,024 km² (2,969,907 sq mi), which corresponds to about 5.6% of Earth's landmass. In comparison, Australia is slightly smaller than the contiguous United States. One country, Australia, occupies the continent.

Map of the Regions in Oceania
Map of regions in Oceania with countries and nations: Micronesia, Melanesia, Polynesia, and Australasia
The map shows the various, partly overlapping regions of Oceania: Micronesia, Melanesia, Polynesia, and Australasia, as well as the parallel of latitude 23°26ʹ south, known as the Tropic of Capricorn. Depicted on the map is also the course of the International Date Line (IDL) along the 180th meridian (180° longitude), with diversions to pass around some island groups such as Kiribati.

Largest city

Australia/New Zealand

Panoramic view of the Sydney skyline seen across Sydney Harbour from Kirribilli
Panoramic view of the Sydney skyline seen across Sydney Harbour from Kirribilli. Sydney is the most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Australia's most famous building, the Sydney Opera House, is on the far left of the photo.
Image: Diliff
Australia and New Zealand

Australia is known as the smallest continent on Earth. The country has an area of 7,692,000 km² (2,969,900 sq mi), making it slightly smaller than the contiguous United States. According to its population clock, 25,996,000 people live in Australia. (2019). [1]

New Zealand is a geographically isolated island nation in the southern Pacific, situated about 2,000 km (1,250 mi) southeast of Australia's east coast. 4.9 million people live in New Zealand (in 2022) [2]. The country consists of two main islands: the North Island (Te Ika-a-Māui) and the South Island (Te Waipounamu).

Australia/New Zealand
Australia 25,963,000 Map of Australia Canberra - Sydney
New Zealand 4,916,000 Map of New Zealand Wellington - Auckland


East Rennell, the largest raised coral atoll in the world is part of the Solomon Islands
East Rennell is a World Heritage Site; it consists of the southern third of Rennell Island, the southernmost island of the Solomon Islands group in the western Pacific Ocean. The largest raised coral atoll in the world is mostly covered with dense tropical forests.
Image: © UNESCO / Robbert Casier
Melanesia is a region in the western Pacific Ocean to the east and south of New Guinea Island; its northern boundary is the Equator. The territory includes the island of New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, four independent countries: Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Fiji and Papua New Guinea, and the French dependency New Caledonia. Many islands of Melanesia are of volcanic origin and belong to the Pacific Ring of Fire.

An estimated 11.3 million people live in Melanesia (2022).
Fiji 936,000   Suva
New Caledonia 294,000 Map of New Caledonia Nouméa
Papua New Guinea 9,097,000 Map of Papua New Guinea Port Moresby
Solomon Islands 672,000   Honiara
Vanuatu 306,000   Port-Vila


Archaeological site of Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia
Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia official website is an archaeological complex and a World Heritage Site on the island of Pohnpei. The urban settlement with stone palaces, temples, and tombs was built between 1200 and 1500 CE; it consisted of a number of small artificial islands linked by a network of canals and bridges.
Image: Montgomery Lion
Micronesia is a region in the western Pacific Ocean, north of Melanesia and north and west of Polynesia; its southern boundary is largely along the Equator. The area includes the Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, the Marshall Islands, and the western portion of the Kiribati archipelago.

An estimated 550,000 people live in Micronesia (in 2022).
Guam 171,000 Map of Guam Hagåtña (Agana)
Kiribati 126,000   Tarawa
Marshall Islands 53,000   Majuro
Micronesia (Federated States of) 109,000   Palikir
Nauru 11,288   ---
Northern Mariana Islands 56,000   Saipan
Palau 23,000   Ngerulmud, Melekeok


Rangiroa Atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago of French Polynesia
Entrance to the lagoon of the Rangiroa Atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago of French Polynesia in the southern Pacific Ocean. Rangiroa is located about 340 km northeast of Tahiti.
Image: Derek Keats
The term Polynesia refers to a vast region of the central Pacific Ocean to the east of Micronesia and Melanesia. The area includes the easternmost islands of the Pacific, including New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Hawaii, the Marquesas Islands (part of French Polynesia), Samoa and French Polynesia.

An estimated 2.1 million people live in Polynesia (in 2022, including Hawaii but not New Zealand).
American Samoa 56,000 Tutuila Map Pago Pago
Cook Islands 18,000   Avarua
  Easter Island (Chile) 7,750   Hanga Roa
French Polynesia (Tahiti) 294,000   Papeete
Hawaii flag Hawaii 1,433,000 Map of Hawaii Honolulu
Niue 2,000   Alofi
Pitcairn 50   Adamstown
Samoa 203,000 Map of Samoa Apia
Tonga 113,000 Map of Tonga Nuku'alofa
Tuvalu 12,000   Funafuti

Population source:

Northwest end of Lake Wakatipu, South Island, New Zealand
Northwest end of Lake Wakatipu, a long, narrow, roughly north-south lake in the South Island of New Zealand. The Humboldt mountain range on the left.
Image: Avenue

More about Oceania

Oceania's major Regions and Subregions
The island world of Oceania is divided into:

An estimated 43.5 million people live in Oceania/Australia, about 0.54 % of the world's population (7.8 billion).
The most populous countries in Oceania are Australia, with 25.9 million people; Papua New Guinea, with 9 million; and New Zealand, with 4.9 million residents (in 2022).
(Source: UN World Population Prospects)

Largest Metropolitan Areas
The largest cities in Oceania by population are
Sydney (pop. 5.2 million), Melbourne (pop. 4.9 million), Brisbane (pop. 2.5 million), Perth (pop. 2.1 million), and Auckland (pop. 1.4 million); except Auckland, all cities are located in Australia.

Major Physiographic Features of Oceania

Rabaul caldera on the island of New Britain, Papua New Guinea
Rabaul township with Rabaul volcano (in the background) on the tip of the Gazelle Peninsula on the island of East New Britain, Papua New Guinea.
Image: JulesR
Major physiographic regions of Australia/Oceania include:

The southwestern part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Great Barrier Reef, Australia's Outback, the Great Dividing Range in Australia, the North Island Volcanic Plateau and the Southern Alps in New Zealand, the rain forest covered New Guinea Highlands and the coral islands of Micronesia and Polynesia.


Highest Point
Puncak Jaya or Carstensz Pyramid in the Papua Province of Indonesia on the island of New Guinea is at 4,884 m (16,024 ft), the highest peak in Oceania.

Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii is at 4,207.3 m (13,803 ft) above sea level Oceania's second-highest peak. Mauna Kea is also the highest mountain on Earth. Measured from its base on the ocean floor to its summit, it rises over 10,210 m (33,500 ft).

Mount Kosciuszko in New South Wales is the highest mountain in Australia at 2,228 m (7,310 ft).

The Great Dividing Range, also known as the Eastern Highlands, is a 3,500 km long mountain range along the eastern coast of Australia. The highest peak is Mount Kosciuszko at 2,228 m (7,310 ft).

Puncak Jaya (4,884 m) is the highest mountain in the Maoke Mountains (formerly known as the Snow Mountains), part of the New Guinea Highlands (Central Cordillera) on New Guinea. Puncak Jaya, with a prominence of 4,884 m, is also the highest mountain peak of an island on Earth.

Largest Lake:
Theoretically, the largest lake in Oceania/Australia is Lake Eyre (officially Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre) in South Australia, a seasonal lake with a surface area between 8,000 and 9500 km².

Longest River:
The longest single river in Oceania is the Murray at 2,508 km. [3] For a long distance, the river forms the border between the Australian states of Victoria and New South Wales.

About 35% of the Australian continent is arid and inhospitable. Most of the country's interior, known as the Outback, receives so little rain that it is practically a desert.
There are several named deserts in Australia; the largest by area is the Great Victoria Desert in Western Australia and South Australia. Other deserts are the Great Sandy Desert, the Tanami Desert, the Simpson and the Gibson deserts, and the Strzelecki Desert.

Languages of Oceania
Many different languages were spoken in Oceania before the arrival of the Europeans. The major languages spoken in Oceania today are based on English, some French-based creole, some Japanese, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, Melanesian Pidgin, Hawaiian, Polynesian languages, Tahitian, and Maori.
 Languages of Oceania

Tourists on camels - a camel caravan at sunset on Cable Beach, Broome, Western Australia
Tourists on camels - the popular sunset camel ride at Cable Beach, 7 km (4 mi) west of Broome in Western Australia.

Keywords: countries of Oceania, the population of Oceania, destination Oceania, travel Oceania, capitals Oceania, Australia, Zealandia, Melanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia


More about Oceania

Map of Australia/Oceania
Reference Map of the Australia/Oceania region.

Searchable Maps of Countries and Capital Cities of Australia/Oceania

profile Languages of Oceania
Melanesian pidgin and Melanesian-Polynesian languages.

 Flags of Oceania



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