The history of the colonization of Oceania is not yet sufficiently clear. What is certain is that it came from Asia. T. Heyerdahl’s hypothesis of the (partial) origin of the population from South America has not proven to be valid. After Australia and New Guinea had already been settled during the last Ice Age (oldest finds now from Northern Australia, 50,000–60,000 years old), the population, believed to be the ancestors of the Papuan-speaking residents, spread over the other islands 4,000–7,000 years ago of western Melanesia. Towards the end of the 3rd millennium BC The Neolithic Lapita culture appeared here on the coaston, named after finds of spherical, ornate vessels used for food preparation. It is attributed to the ancestors of the Polynesians, Austronesians with a pronounced maritime way of life. The Austronesians who remained in Melanesia merged with the local black population, but they established their language. The other fair-skinned Austronesians settled Polynesia.
In 1513 V. Núñez de Balboa discovered the Pacific Ocean. Seafarers of the European colonial powers (especially J. Cook) opened up Oceania since then. The colonial era in Oceania began with the Dutch claim to sovereignty over West New Guinea (1828) and the establishment of the French protectorate over the Central Polynesian islands (Society Islands, Tuamotu Group and others, 1842). The European-American colonization changed the traditional social structures in the oceanic region, in Hawaii and the Central Polynesian Islands as well as in Melanesia and Micronesia more than in Western Polynesia (Samoa, Tonga). With the transition to colonial status, local kingship became extinct almost everywhere. In Tonga and Samoa, however, Christian kingship remained under the British protectorate (since 1900).
After the First World War, Great Britain and France, but also the Netherlands, the Australian Confederation and the USA owned colonies in Oceania defined by Countryaah.com; the German protected areas had received Japan and New Zealand as C mandates of the League of Nations. At the Washington Conference (1921-22) France, Great Britain, Japan and the USA guaranteed each other the possessions in Oceania in a four-power pact (December 13, 1921). During the Second World War Oceania was a theater of war from 1941–45. At the Cairo Conference (1943), China, Great Britain and the USA decided to withdraw the League of Nations mandates in the ocean region after a military victory over Japan. In 1947 these territories came under the administration of the United States as UN trust areas, which incorporated Hawaii as a state in 1959. As early as 1946, the French possessions (French Polynesia, New Caledonia) became overseas territories of the French Republic. From 1946–58, American nuclear weapons tests were carried out on Bikini and Eniwetok (Marshall Islands), and until recently (most recently between September 1995 and January 1996) on the Mururoa Atoll (French Polynesia), French nuclear weapons tests took place.
In the course of decolonization, the British, Australian and New Zealand possessions gained rights of self-government. Western Samoa (1962), Nauru (1968), Fiji (1970), Papua New Guinea (1975), the Solomon Islands (1978), Tuvalu (1978) and Kiribati (1979) were granted independence. With the cession of western New Guinea to Indonesia in 1963, the Netherlands lost its influence in Oceania. In 1970 Great Britain dissolved the protectorate treaty with Tonga.
On December 22nd, 1990, the UN’s trusteeship over the North Marianas, the Marshall Islands and Micronesia, and on October 1st, 1994 also over Palau; ties to the USA remained in place (with the North Marianas through the formation of the United States-associated “Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands”, with the Marshall Islands, the “Federated States of Micronesia” and Palau through the “Compacts of Free Association”). The island of Guam received the status of a non-incorporated territory of the United States. – The South Pacific Forum was established in 1971 as a regional association in Oceania, which declared the South Pacific a nuclear-weapon-free zone in 1985 (fixed in the Treaty of Rarotonga, which came into force in 1986 and which the USA, France and Great Britain also signed in 1996). The political and economic instability, especially in the small South Pacific states, prompted Australia at the beginning of the 21st century to assume its role as a regulating power in the region, which is threatened by the consequences of global climate change, especially the expected rise in sea levels.
|Oceania: State Organization (2015)|
|Country||Form of government||Area (in km 2)||Population (in 1,000)||capital city|
|New Zealand||parliamentary monarchy||267 710||4,595.7||Wellington|
|Papua New Guinea||parliamentary monarchy||462 840||7,619.3||Port Moresby|
|Solomon Islands||parliamentary monarchy||28 900||583.6||Honiara|
|Vanuatu||republic||12 190||264.6||Port Vila|
|not independent areas||Administrative headquarters|
|Easter island||164||6.6||Hanga Roa|
|New Caledonia||18 580||273.0||Nouméa|
|Wallis and Futuna||142||15.7||Mata-utu|
|Western New Guinea (Papua and Papua Barat)||416 060||4,011.9||Jayapura and Manokwari|
|Cook Islands 1)||240||19.6||Avarua|
|American Samoa||200||55.5||Pago Pago|
|Northern Mariana Islands 2)||460||55.1||Saipan|
|1) In free association with New Zealand.2) State associated with the USA.|
|Timeline for the discovery and exploration of Oceania|
|1513||V. Núñez de Balboa discovers the Pacific Ocean for Europe|
|1521||F. de Magalhães discovers the Mariana Islands and the Philippines during his circumnavigation|
|1526||The Portuguese J. de Meneses arrives at the north coast of New Guinea|
|1568||Á. de Mendaña de Neira discovers the Solomon Islands|
|1606||P. Fernández de Quirós discovers the New Hebrides|
|1615/16||The Dutchman J. Le Maire discovers part of the Tonga Islands as well as New Ireland and New Britain|
|1642||A. J. Tasman sails from Batavia to Tasmania, New Zealand, the Tonga Islands, Fiji Islands, New Britain and New Ireland|
|1722||The Dutch admiral J. Roggeveen finds inter alia. Easter Island|
|1767||S. Wallis discovers Tahiti and others. Society Islands while Fr. Carteret rediscovered the Solomon Islands|
|1768||The French L.-A. en Bougainville visits Tahiti, the New Hebrides, the Louisade Archipelago, and the northern Solomon Islands|
|from 1768||J. Cook made numerous discoveries on his three trips: he sailed around New Zealand, found the east coast of Australia and explored most of the island groups|
|1778||J. Cook discovers Hawaii|