Oceania is a region in the Central and South Pacific Ocean that consists of island groups. It covers 3.3 million square miles. Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji are among the important countries in this region. There are also several territories and dependencies in Oceania like French Polynesia, American Samoa, and Johnson Atoll. The Oceanic islands can be subdivided into four smaller regions. This subdivision is based on processing that played an important part in the physical developments of those sub-regions.
The first among those four sub-regions in Oceania is Australia. Australia is located right at the center of Indo-Australian Plate and therefore it is separated. Its unique location is the reason that no mountain ever built when Australia was developing on Earth. Erosion formed the current physical landscape features of Australia.
The second sub-region consists of the islands existing on the colliding boundaries between the crustal plates of the Earth. South Pacific is the very center of those islands such as New Zealand, the Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea. These types of landscapes are also found in the North Pacific portion of Oceania. The collision pf those plates formed high mountains like those in New Zealand that is approximately 10,000 feet high.
The third sub-region found in Oceania consists of volcanic islands like Fiji. Those islands are small but have high mountains. This region was created over time by volcanic eruptions. Those eruptions began underwater when the hot magma is cooled and hardened by water. This activity forms islands over time with steep central peaks.
Coral reef islands and atolls are included in the fourth category of landscapes found in Oceania. Land regions that are lying low, some of which are enclosed lagoons, were formed by the atolls. The atoll is one island even though multiple coral communities go into its making. It is very interesting to know that these islands are made of the skeletons and corals (living bodies of different marine animals). In very rare cases, coral islands can reach above sea level. Therefore, these are low-lying islands. Coral regions are found excessively in the islands of Micronesia and Polynesia.
Australia and Oceania are famous for endemic species of plants and animals or species that do not exist anywhere else on the planet. Those living beings reached those islands from Southeast Asia years ago. Back then, sea levels were quite low and were, therefore, easy for traveling. After the rise of the sea levels, those species adapted to the new environment and continued to produce multiple species. All those species are believed to be evolved from common ancestors.
Culture and Cuisine of Oceania
The vast ocean-oriented geography of Oceania has a great impact on its culture. Isolated locations and small populations have become the main focus of cultural groups, practices, and traditions. They tend to unite people and consolidate power in the face of their geographical characteristics of islands and small communities occupying those islands. These unifying movements and traits are evident from both regional and national levels.
Papua New Guinea is among the most diverse countries in Oceania with respect to culture and traditions with near 850 indigenous and 700 indigenous cultural groups. These cultural groups are even recognized in their constitution as “viable units of Papua New Guinea society.” The constitution also identifies and promotes culture, traditions, and conventions. Those groups along with the government’s aid and support showcase cultural unification at the national level.
Sports and arts are the main cultural elements that unite isolated communities at a regional and national level. Australia and New Zealand have world-famous rugby teams in rugby league as well as in rugby union. Rugby friendly matches, leagues, and tournaments are conducted in different countries especially in Australia that makes rugby a truly significant unifying force in Oceania. You will also witness that the arts are also acting as a unifying force in Oceania. The Festival of Pacific Arts is a phenomenal event hosted every year in a different country. The festival provides an excellent opportunity to express Pacific-wide culture and traditions. Traditional dance and songs are the main elements of this event.
Tourism has also become yet another unifying force in Oceania and has become the biggest industry in recent years. The main focus of Oceanic tourism is fishing and various water recreational sports. However, it is another debate that the rise of tourism is also negatively affecting the economies and ecosystems of Oceania’s islands.
The cuisine of Oceania is different from the rest of the world. You will certainly find its taste different because of the mixture of Asian and Western cooking techniques with additions of local ingredients make Oceanic food exceptional. The colonizers also greatly influenced the cuisine here. Oceanic people appreciate and are fond of a whole range of food. You will find Malay or arborio rice, Thai or Indian curry paste, Anzac biscuits, Lamington cakes, Balmain bug salad, etc. on almost every restaurant. Chicken and meat pie, fish and chips with crispy golden batter served with vinegar, soup meat, lamb meat, Kau Kau staple (lamb flap), Kentucky, palsami, etc. are among other dishes that are loved by both, locals and foreigners.
Some Interesting Facts about Oceania
- Polynesians were the first seafarers who first explored this region
- James Cook was a British explorer who first discovered Australia in 1770
- Oceania is the smallest continent in the world with a surface area of 3,291,903 square miles
- Oceania consists of fourteen countries and Australia is the largest island in Oceania
- Oceania covers a very vast area from 55 degrees south in the Southern Hemisphere to 28 degrees North in Northern Hemisphere
- Sydney, a city of Australia, is the biggest city with respect to area and population as well with approximately 4.5 million people
- Mount Cook in New Zealand is the highest mountain on land with 3,754 meters height
- There is no officially recognized capital of Nauru in Oceania
- Australia is home to the largest rock monolith in the world known as Uluru
- The tallest island mountain on Earth is also in New Guinea, Oceania which is known as Puncak Jaya with 4,884 meters height
- The world’s largest coral reef system is also in Oceania which is named as The Great Barrier Reef