Portal:Oceania

The Oceania Portal

An orthographic projection of geopolitical Oceania

Oceania (UK: /ˌsiˈɑːniə, ˌʃi-, -ˈn-/, US: /ˌʃiˈæniə/ (About this soundlisten), /-ˈɑːn-/) is a geographic region that includes Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. Spanning the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, Oceania has a land area of 8,525,989 square kilometres (3,291,903 sq mi) and a population of over 41 million. When compared to continents, the region of Oceania is the smallest in land area and the second smallest in population after Antarctica.

Oceania has a diverse mix of economies from the highly developed and globally competitive financial markets of Australia, New Caledonia and New Zealand, which rank high in quality of life and human development index, to the much less developed economies such as Papua New Guinea, Indonesian New Guinea, Kiribati, Vanuatu and Tuvalu, while also including medium-sized economies of Pacific islands such as Palau, Fiji and Tonga. The largest and most populous country in Oceania is Australia, and the largest city is Sydney. (Full article...)

Daily article

A beach at Funafuti atoll, Tuvalu, on a sunny day.

Tuvalu is an island nation located in the Pacific Ocean midway between Hawaii and Australia. Its name means "Eight Standing Together" in Tuvaluan. Its small, scattered group of atolls and reef islands have poor soil and a total land area of only about 26 square kilometres (less than 10 sq. mi) making it the fourth smallest country in the world. The population of 10,837 (2012) is vulnerable to the effects of tropical cyclones and by the threat of current and future sea level rise.

A creation story that is found on many of the islands is that te Pusi mo te Ali (the Eel and the Flounder) created the islands of Tuvalu; te Ali (the flounder) is believed to be the origin of the flat atolls of Tuvalu and the te Pusin (the Eel) is the model for the coconut palms that are important in the lives of Tuvaluans.

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Tonga College students performing a Kailao dance.

The Tongan archipelago has been inhabited for perhaps 3000 years, since settlement in late Lapita times. The culture of its inhabitants has surely changed greatly over this long time period. Before the arrival of European explorers in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, the Tongans were in frequent contact with their nearest Oceanic neighbors, Fiji and Samoa. In the 19th century, with the arrival of Western traders and missionaries, Tongan culture changed dramatically. Some old beliefs and habits were thrown away and others adopted. Some accommodations made in the 19th century and early 20th century are now being challenged by changing Western civilization. Hence Tongan culture is far from a unified or monolithic affair, and Tongans themselves may differ strongly as to what it is "Tongan" to do, or not do.

Contemporary Tongans often have strong ties to overseas lands. They may have been migrant workers in New Zealand, or have lived and traveled in New Zealand, Australia, or the United States. Many Tongans now live overseas, in a Tongan diaspora, and send home remittances to family members (often aged) who prefer to remain in Tonga. Tongans themselves often have to operate in two different contexts, which they often call anga fakatonga, the traditional Tongan way, and anga fakapālangi, the Western way. A culturally adept Tongan learns both sets of rules and when to switch between them.

Any description of Tongan culture that limits itself to what Tongans see as anga fakatonga would give a seriously distorted view of what people actually do, in Tonga, or in diaspora, because accommodations are so often made to anga fakapālangi. The following account tries to give both the idealized and the on-the-ground versions of Tongan culture.

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