List of islands in the Pacific Ocean

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The islands in the Pacific Ocean divided into three major groups

Collectively called the Pacific Islands, the islands in the Pacific Ocean are further categorized into three major groups: Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. Depending on the context, the term Pacific Islands may refer to one of several different concepts: (1) those countries and islands with common Austronesian origins, (2) the islands once (or currently) colonized, or (3) the geographical region of Oceania.

This list of islands in the Pacific Ocean is organized by archipelago or political unit. In order to keep this list of moderate size, the more complete lists for countries with large numbers of small or uninhabited islands have been hyperlinked.

Name ambiguity and groupings

The umbrella term Pacific Islands has taken on several meanings.[1] Sometimes it is used to refer only to the islands defined as lying within Oceania.[2][3][4] At other times, it is used to refer to the islands of the Pacific Ocean that were previously colonized by the British, French, Spaniards, Portuguese, Dutch, or Japanese, or by the United States. Examples include Borneo, the Pitcairn Islands and Taiwan (also known as Formosa).[5]

A commonly applied biogeographic definition includes islands with oceanic geology that lie within Melanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia and the eastern Pacific (also known as the southeastern Pacific).[6][7][8][9][10][11][12] These are usually considered to be the "Tropical Pacific Islands".[13] In the 1990s, ecologists Dieter Mueller-Dombois and Frederic Raymond Fosberg broke the Tropical Pacific Islands up into the following subdivisions:[14]

Geopolitics and Oceania grouping

Exclusive economic zones of Oceania and adjacent areas. Non-tropical islands in the extreme north Pacific, such as the Aleutian Islands, are excluded from the map.

The 2007 book Asia in the Pacific Islands: Replacing the West, by New Zealand Pacific scholar Ron Crocombe, considers the phrase Pacific Islands to politically encompass American Samoa, Australia, the Bonin Islands, the Cook Islands, Easter Island, East Timor (technically in the Indian Ocean), Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, the Galápagos Islands, Guam, Hawaii, the Kermadec Islands, Kiribati, Lord Howe Island, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Norfolk Island, Niue, the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn Islands, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, the Torres Strait Islands, Wallis and Futuna, Western New Guinea and the United States Minor Outlying Islands (Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Midway Atoll, Palmyra Atoll and Wake Island). Crocombe noted that Easter Island, Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island, the Galápagos Islands, the Kermadec Islands, the Pitcairn Islands and the Torres Strait Islands currently have no geopolitical connections to Asia, but that they could be of future strategic importance in the Asia-Pacific.[15] Another definition given in the book for the term Pacific Islands is islands served by the Pacific Community, formerly known as the South Pacific Commision. It is a developmental organization whose members include Australia and most of the aforementioned islands. Crocombe stated that this definition for the term "does not include Galápagos and other islands off the Pacific coast of the Americas; these islands were uninhabited when Europeans arrived, then integrated with a South American country." He adds, "Easter Island still participates in some Pacific Island affairs because its people are Polynesian."[15] In his 1962 book War in the Pacific: Strategy and Command, American author Louis Morton places the insular landmasses of the Pacific under the label of the "Pacific World". He considers it to encompass areas that were involved in the Pacific Theater of World War II. These areas include the islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia, as well as Australia, the Aleutian Islands, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, the Ryukyu Islands and Taiwan.[16]

Since the beginning of the 19th century, Australia and the islands of the Pacific have been grouped by geographers into a region called Oceania.[17][18] It is often considered a quasi-continent, with the Pacific Ocean being the defining characteristic.[19] In his 1879 book Australasia, British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace commented that, "Oceania is the word often used by continental geographers to describe the great world of islands we are now entering upon" and that "Australia forms its central and most important feature."[20] 19th century definitions encompassed the region as beginning in the Malay Archipelago, and as ending near the Americas.[18][21][22][23][24] The 1995 book The Pacific Island States, by Australian author Stephen Henningham, claims that Oceania in its broadest sense "incorporates all the insular areas between the Americas and Asia."[25] In its broadest possible usage, it could include Australia, the Melanesian, Micronesian and Polynesian islands, the Japanese and Malay Archipelagos, Taiwan, the Ryukyu and Kuril Islands, the Aleutian Islands and isolated islands off Latin America such as the Juan Fernández Islands.[26][27] Islands with geological and historical ties to the Asian mainland (such as those in the Malay Archipelago) are rarely included in present definitions of Oceania, nor are non-tropical islands to the north of Hawaii.[28][29][30] The 2004 book The Making of Anthropology: The Semiotics of Self and Other in the Western Tradition, by Jacob Pandian and Susan Parman, states that "some exclude from Oceania the nontropical islands such as Ryukyu, the Aleutian islands and Japan, and the islands such as Formosa, Indonesia and the Philippines that are closely linked with mainland Asia. Others include Indonesia and the Philippines with the heartland of Oceania."[31]

Certain anthropological definitions restrict Oceania even further to only include islands which are culturally within Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.[32] In The Oxford Handbook of Prehistoric Oceania (2017) Ethan Cochrane and Terry L. Hunt wrote, "this definition of Oceania might seem too restrictive: Why not include Australia, for example, or even too broad, for what does Highland New Guinea have to do with Hawai‘i? Of course, demarcating regions is arbitrary, but by referencing culturally related populations we justify this definition of Oceania through archaeological questions of evolution and diversification in related human lineages. Archaeological research in Oceania thus stretches generally from New Guinea and Palau in the west to Rapa Nui in the east, north to Hawai‘i, and south to Aotearoa/New Zealand. Research in Island Southeast Asia is also often relevant to explaining variation in past Oceanic populations, but the material culture patterns, the archaeological remains, are different enough from those found in Oceania, to maintain the separation. Australian and Oceanic groups diverge shortly after the earliest settlement of these areas and consequently little recent cultural relatedness is shared between the populations of these two regions. Similarly, a few other islands in the Pacific such as those of Japan or the Channel Islands off the southern California coast are not typically considered Oceania as the indigenous populations of these places do not share a common ancestry with Oceanic groups, except for a time far before humans sailed Pacific waters."[33] Conversely, Encyclopedia Britannica believe that the term Pacific Islands is much more synonymous with Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia, and that Oceania, in its broadest sense, embraces all the areas of the Pacific which do not fall within Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.[27] In more common anthropological definitions of Oceania, the term Near Oceania is used to indicate Australia and nearby areas of the Pacific settled in the last 35,000 years by Indigenous Australians and Melanesians, with the term Remote Oceania being used to indicate more isolated areas of the Pacific settled in the last 3,000 years by Melanesians, Micronesians and Polynesians.[34] The term Remote Oceania is sometimes extended further to include areas of the Pacific that were uninhabited when discovered by Europeans.[35][36] American herpetologist George R. Zug has written that his definition of Oceania emphasis islands with oceanic geology.[37] In his 2013 book Reptiles and Amphibians of the Pacific Islands, Zug stated that oceanic islands are, "islands with no past connections to a continental landmass" and that, "these boundaries encompass the Hawaiian and Bonin Islands in the north and Easter Island in the south, and the Palau Islands in the west to the Galápagos Islands in the east."[37] The World Factbook and the United Nations categorize Oceania/the Pacific area as one of the seven major continental divisions of the world, and the two organizations consider it to politically encompass American Samoa, Australia, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, French Polynesia, Fiji, Guam, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Island, the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn Islands, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna and the United States Minor Outlying Islands.[38]

Many consider Australia to be a continent-sized landmass, although they are still sometimes viewed as a Pacific Island, or as both a continent and a Pacific Island.[39] The 1982 edition of the South Pacific Handbook, by David Stanley, categorizes Australia, the Galápagos Islands and the islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia under the label the "South Pacific Islands", even though some islands, such as Guam and Hawaii, technically lie in the North Pacific.[40] In his entry for Australia, he wrote that, "the native Aboriginal people are related to the Melanesians and over the past 200 years Australia has become closely involved in the affairs of the South Pacific."[40] Australia is a founding member of the Pacific Islands Forum, which is now recognized as the main governing body for the Oceania region.[41] It functions as a trade bloc and deals with defense issues, unlike with the Pacific Community, which includes most of the same members. By 2021, the Pacific Islands Forum included all sovereign Pacific Island nations, such as Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji and Tonga, in addition to dependencies of other nations, such as American Samoa, French Polynesia and Guam. Islands which have been fully integrated into other nations, including Easter Island (Chile) and Hawaii (United States), have also shown interest in joining.[42] Tony deBrum, Foreign Minister for the Marshall Islands, stated in 2014, "Not only [is Australia] our big brother down south, Australia is a member of the Pacific Islands Forum and Australia is a Pacific island, a big island, but a Pacific island."[39] Japan and certain nations of the Malay Archipelago (including East Timor, Indonesia and the Philippines) have representation in the Pacific Islands Forum, but none are full members. The nations of the Malay Archipelago have their own regional governing organization called ASEAN, which includes mainland Southeast Asian nations such as Vietnam and Thailand.[43][44] British historian David Armitage's 2014 book Pacific Histories: Ocean, Land, People states that "New Zealand and even Australia are sometimes considered part of the Pacific, sometimes not. Archipelagos which might otherwise appear to be 'in' the Pacific are by convention usually excluded: Indonesia (excluding West Papua), the Philippines, the Aleutians or even Japan. And yet Timor Leste (or East Timor) is an observer of the Pacific Islands Forum." He adds that "various geographers carve up this part of the world differently, using a range of labels such as Oceania, Asia-Pacific, the Pacific-Basin, the South Pacific or South Seas (which commonly includes islands in the north) or the Pacific Islands. Of course, all the seas are connected, and there are no neat limits. But the struggle for putting the Pacific into discourse is partly decided by how it is defined."[45] In July 2019, at the inaugural Indonesian Exposition held in Auckland, Indonesia launched its ‘Pacific Elevation’ program, which would encompass a new era of elevated engagement with the region, with the country also using the event to lay claim that Indonesia is culturally and ethnically linked to the Pacific islands. The event was attended by dignitaries from Australia, New Zealand and some Pacific island countries.[46]

List of the largest Pacific islands

Islands of the Pacific Ocean proper, with an area larger than 10,000 km2.

Name Area (km2) Country/Countries Population Population density Region Subregion
New Guinea 785,753 Indonesia and Papua New Guinea 15,000,000 9.5 Oceania Melanesia
Honshu 227,960 Japan 103,000,000 451.8 Asia East Asia
Sulawesi 174,600 Indonesia 18,455,000 105.7 Asia Southeast Asia
South Island 150,437 New Zealand 1,135,500 7.5 Oceania Australasia / Polynesia
North Island 113,729 New Zealand 3,749,200 33.0 Oceania Australasia / Polynesia
Luzon 109,965 Philippines 48,520,000 441.2 Asia Southeast Asia
Mindanao 104,530 Philippines 25,281,000 241.9 Asia Southeast Asia
Tasmania 90,758 Australia 514,700 5.7 Oceania Australasia
Hokkaido 77,981 Japan 5,474,000 70.2 Asia East Asia
Sakhalin 72,493 Russia 580,000 8.0 Asia North Asia
Taiwan Island (Formosa) 35,883 Taiwan 23,000,000 641.0 Asia East Asia
Kyushu 35,640 Japan 13,231,000 371.2 Asia East Asia
New Britain 35,145 Papua New Guinea 513,926 14.6 Oceania Melanesia
Vancouver Island 31,285 Canada 759,366 24.2 North America Northern America
Shikoku 18,800 Japan 4,141,955 220.3 Asia East Asia
Grande Terre 16,648 New Caledonia (France) 208,709 12.5 Oceania Melanesia
Palawan 12,189 Philippines 430,000 35.3 Asia Southeast Asia
Hawaii 10,434 United States of America 185,079 17.7 Oceania Polynesia
Viti Levu 10,388 Fiji 600,000 57.0 Oceania Melanesia

By continent

By country

Australia

Canada

Chile

China

Colombia

Cook Islands

Costa Rica

Ecuador

Fiji

France

Indonesia

Japan

Kiribati

Malaysia

Marshall Islands

Mexico

Micronesia

Islands of Federated States of Micronesia

Nauru

  • Nauru, a country and single island

New Zealand

Niue

  • Niue, a country and single island

Palau

Palau has over 250 islands, including:

Panama

Papua New Guinea

Philippines

Russia

Samoa

Solomon Islands

Taiwan

Tonga

Tuvalu

United Kingdom

United States

Vanuatu

Notes

  1. ^ William Collins Sons & Co Ltd (1983), Collins Atlas of the World (revised 1995 ed.), London: HarperCollins, ISBN 0-00-448227-1
  2. ^ Todd, Ian (1974). Island Realm: A Pacific Panorama. Angus & Robertson. ISBN 9780207127618. Retrieved 2 February 2022.
  3. ^ D'Arcy, Paul (March 2006). The People of the Sea: Environment, Identity, and History in Oceania. University Of Hawai'i Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-3297-1. Archived from the original on 2014-10-30. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  4. ^ Rapaport, Moshe (April 2013). The Pacific Islands: Environment and Society, Revised Edition. University of Hawai'i Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-6584-9. JSTOR j.ctt6wqh08. This is the only contemporary text on the Pacific Islands that covers both environment and sociocultural issues and will thus be indispensable for any serious student of the region. Unlike other reviews, it treats the entirety of Oceania (with the exception of Australia) and is well illustrated with numerous photos and maps, including a regional atlas. – via JSTOR (subscription required)
  5. ^ Wright, John K. (July 1942). "Pacific Islands". Geographical Review. 32 (3): 481–486. doi:10.2307/210391. JSTOR 210391. – via JSTOR (subscription required)
  6. ^ R. Zug, George (2013). Reptiles and Amphibians of the Pacific Islands: A Comprehensive Guide. University of California Press. p. 10. One cannot refer to “Pacific islands” and ignore the Galapagos Islands and other eastern Pacific islands.
  7. ^ Hinz, Earl R. (1999). Landfalls of Paradise: Cruising Guide to the Pacific Islands (4th ed.). University of Hawai'i Press. ISBN 9780824821159. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  8. ^ Nunn, Patrick D.; Kumar, Lalit; Eliot, Ian; McLean, Roger F. (2016-03-02). "Classifying Pacific islands | Geoscience Letters | Full Text". Geoscience Letters. Geoscienceletters.springeropen.com. 3 (1): 1–19. doi:10.1186/s40562-016-0041-8. S2CID 53970527. Retrieved 2022-03-02.
  9. ^ Udvardy, Miklos D.F. "A Classification of the Biogeographical Provinces of the World" (PDF). UNESCO. Retrieved 7 March 2022.
  10. ^ Doran, Edwin B. (1959). Handbook of Selected Pacific Islands. The University of California. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  11. ^ Lal, Brij V.; Fortune, Kate (2000). The Pacific Islands: An Encyclopedia, Volume 1. University of Hawaii Press. p. 60. ISBN 9780824822651. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  12. ^ "Draft Check List of Pacific Oceanic Islands" (PDF) – via micronesica.org.[better source needed]
  13. ^ Pacific Science Volume 46, April 1992
  14. ^ Mueller-Dombois, Dieter; Fosberg, Frederic R. (1998). Vegetation of the Tropical Pacific Islands. Springer. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  15. ^ a b Crocombe, R. G. (2007). Asia in the Pacific Islands: Replacing the West. University of the South Pacific. Institute of Pacific Studies. p. 13. ISBN 9789820203884. Retrieved 24 January 2022.
  16. ^ Morton, Louis (1964). War in the Pacific: Strategy and Command. Government Printing Office.
  17. ^ Barrington-Ward, Mark James (1879). The child's geography. Oxford University. p. 56. Retrieved 13 March 2022. There are six great divisions of the earth— Asia, Africa, Europe, North and South America and Oceania. Of these, Asia is largest, Europe smallest. Oceania is made up of Australia and many scattered islands
  18. ^ a b Brown, Robert (1876). "Oceania: General Characteristics". The countries of the world. Oxford University. Retrieved 1 February 2022.
  19. ^ Society, National Geographic (4 January 2012). "Australia and Oceania: Physical Geography". National Geographic Society.
  20. ^ Wallace, Alfred Russel (1879). Australasia. The University of Michigan. p. 2. Archived from the original on 30 July 2022. Retrieved 12 March 2022. Oceania is the word often used by continental geographers to describe the great world of islands we are now entering upon [...] This boundless watery domain, which extends northwards of Behring Straits and southward to the Antarctic barrier of ice, is studded with many island groups, which are, however, very irregularly distributed over its surface. The more northerly section, lying between Japan and California and between the Aleutian and Hawaiian Archipelagos is relived by nothing but a few solitary reefs and rocks at enormously distant intervals.
  21. ^ Ireland, A. (1863). The Geography and History of Oceania. W. Fletcher, printer. p. 1. Retrieved 12 March 2022. Oceania, the fifth great division of the earth's surface, includes the numerous islands scattered over the great ocean which extends from the south - eastern shores of Asia to the western coast of America.
  22. ^ Wallace, Alfred Russel (1879). Australasia. The University of Michigan. p. 2. Retrieved 12 March 2022. Oceania is the word often used by continental geographers to describe the great world of islands we are now entering upon [...] This boundless watery domain, which extends northwards of Behring Straits and southward to the Antarctic barrier of ice, is studded with many island groups, which are, however, very irregularly distributed over its surface. The more northerly section, lying between Japan and California and between the Aleutian and Hawaiian Archipelagos is relived by nothing but a few solitary reefs and rocks at enormously distant intervals.
  23. ^ Chambers, William (1856). Chambers's Parlour Atlas with Descriptive Introduction and Copious Consulting Index. The University of Virginia. Oceania, the fifth great division of the earth's surface, includes the numerous islands scattered over the great ocean which extends from the south - eastern shores of Asia to the western coast of America. It is separated from Asia by the Str. of Malacca, the Chinese Sea, and the Channel of Formosa; and from America by a broad belt of ocean comparatively free of islands.
  24. ^ Chambers's New Handy Volume American Encyclopædia: Volume 9. The University of Virginia. 1885. p. 657. Retrieved 13 March 2022. the whole region has sometimes been called Oceania, and sometimes Australasia—generally, however, in modern times, to the exclusion of the islands in the Indian archipelago, to which certain writers have given the name of Malaysia [...] we have the three geographical divisions of Malaysia, Australasia and Polynesia, the last mentioned of which embraces all the groups and single islands not included under the other two. Accepting this arrangement, still the limits between Australasia and Polynesia have not been very accurately defined; indeed, scarcely any two geographers appear to be quite agreed upon the subject; neither shall we pretend to decide in the matter. The following list, however, comprises all the principal groups and single island not previously named as coming under the division of Australasia: 1. North of the equator—The Ladrone or Marian islands. the Pelew islands, the Caroline islands, the Radack and Ralick chains, the Sandwich islands, Gilbert's or Kingstnill's archipelago. and the Galapagos. 2. South of the equator—The Ellice group, the Phoenix and Union groups. the Fiji islands, the Friendly islands, the Navigator's islands. Cook's or Harvey islands, the Society islands. the Dangerous archipelago, the Marquesas islands, Pitcairn island, and Easter island.
  25. ^ https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/bfm%3A978-0-230-37243-6%2F1.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  26. ^ Danver, Steven L. (2015). Native Peoples of the World: An Encyclopedia of Groups, Cultures and Contemporary Issues. Taylor & Francis. p. 185. ISBN 9781317464006. Retrieved 23 April 2022.
  27. ^ a b "Pacific Islands | Countries, Map, & Facts | Britannica". www.britannica.com.
  28. ^ Everett-Heath, John (2017). The Concise Dictionary of World Place Names. OUP Oxford. ISBN 978-0-19-255646-2. Retrieved 8 July 2022. It is generally accepted that Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, and the islands north of Japan (the Kurils and Aleutians) are excluded
  29. ^ Henderson, John William (1971). Area Handbook for Oceania. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 5. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  30. ^ "Oceania | Definition, Population, & Facts | Britannica". www.britannica.com.
  31. ^ Pandian, Jacob; Parman, Susan (2004). The Making of Anthropology: The Semiotics of Self and Other in the Western Tradition. Vedams. p. 206. ISBN 9788179360149. Retrieved 19 July 2022.
  32. ^ paul d'Arcy paul d'Arcy (2012-09-18). "Oceania and Australasia | The Oxford Handbook of World History | Oxford Academic". Academic.oup.com. Retrieved 2022-08-02.
  33. ^ Ethan E Cochrane and Terry L Hunt (December 2017). "The Archaeology of Prehistoric Oceania (a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy))". ResearchGate.[better source needed]
  34. ^ Steadman, 2006. Extinction & biogeography of tropical Pacific birds
  35. ^ Prebble, Matiu; Wilmshurst, Janet M. (August 1, 2009). "Detecting the initial impact of humans and introduced species on island environments in Remote Oceania using palaeoecology". Biological Invasions. 11 (7): 1529–1556. doi:10.1007/s10530-008-9405-0 – via Springer Link.
  36. ^ McMahon, Kevin. "Research guides: Architectures of Australia & the Pacific: General resources". library.sciarc.libguides.com.
  37. ^ a b R. Zug, George (2013). Reptiles and Amphibians of the Pacific Islands: A Comprehensive Guide. University of California Press.
  38. ^ "UNSD — Methodology". Unstats.un.org. Retrieved 2022-07-19.
  39. ^ a b O'Malley, Nick (September 21, 2014). "'Australia is a Pacific island - it has a responsibility'". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  40. ^ a b Stanley, David (1982). South Pacific Handbook. Moon Publications. p. 502. ISBN 9780960332236. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  41. ^ "Consultations on Pacific Islands Forum 2050 Strategy". Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
  42. ^ "Pacific forum looks to widen entry - ABC News". ABC News. Abc.net.au. 27 August 2012. Retrieved 2022-03-02.
  43. ^ "The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) | Coopération Régionale et Relations Extérieures de la Nouvelle-Calédonie". Cooperation-regionale.gouv.nc. Retrieved 2022-03-02.
  44. ^ "Japan, U.S. Increase cooperation to enhance Pacific islands' security | Indo-Pacific Defense Forum".
  45. ^ Armitage, David (2014). Pacific Histories: Ocean, Land, People. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 32. ISBN 9781137001641. Archived from the original on 30 July 2022. Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  46. ^ "Indonesia's "Pacific elevation": Elevating what and who? - Griffith Asia Insights".
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