List of islands in the Pacific Ocean

Collectively called the Pacific Islands, the islands in the Pacific Ocean are further categorized into three major island 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.

The islands in the Pacific Ocean divided into three major groups

This list of islands in the Pacific Ocean is organized by archipelago or political boundary. 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, 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 Commission. It is a developmental organization whose members include Australia and the aforementioned islands which are not politically part of other countries.[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 used as a quasi-continent, with the Pacific Ocean being the defining characteristic.[19] In some countries, such as Argentina, Brazil, China, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, France, Greece, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Peru, Spain, Switzerland or Venezuela, Oceania is seen as a proper continent in the sense that it is "one of the parts of the world".[20] 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."[21] 19th century definitions encompassed the region as beginning in the Malay Archipelago, and as ending near the Americas.[18][22][23][24][25] In the 19th century, many geographers divided up Oceania into mostly racially-based subdivisions; Australasia, Malaysia (encompassing the Malay Archipelago), Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.[26][27] 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."[28] 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.[29][30] 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.[31][32][33] 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."[34]

Certain anthropological definitions restrict Oceania even further to only include islands which are culturally within Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.[35][36] 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.[30] 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.[37]

Since the 1950s, many (particularly in English-speaking countries) have viewed Australia as a continent-sized landmass, although they are still sometimes viewed as a Pacific Island, or as both a continent and a Pacific Island.[38] Australia is a founding member of the Pacific Islands Forum, which is now recognized as the main governing body for the Oceania region.[39] 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.[40] 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."[38] 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.[41][42] 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.[43]

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 Guinea785,753Indonesia and Papua New Guinea15,000,0009.5OceaniaMelanesia
Honshu227,960Japan103,000,000451.8AsiaEast Asia
Sulawesi174,600Indonesia18,455,000105.7AsiaSoutheast Asia
South Island150,437New Zealand2,135,5007.5OceaniaAustralasia / Polynesia
North Island113,729New Zealand4,749,20033.0OceaniaAustralasia / Polynesia
Luzon109,965Philippines48,520,000441.2AsiaSoutheast Asia
Mindanao104,530Philippines25,281,000241.9AsiaSoutheast Asia
Tasmania90,758Australia514,7005.7OceaniaAustralasia
Hokkaido77,981Japan5,474,00070.2AsiaEast Asia
Sakhalin72,493Russia580,0008.0AsiaNorth Asia
Taiwan Island (Formosa)35,883Taiwan23,000,000641.0AsiaEast Asia
Kyushu35,640Japan13,231,000371.2AsiaEast Asia
New Britain35,145Papua New Guinea513,92614.6OceaniaMelanesia
Vancouver Island31,285Canada759,36624.2North AmericaNorthern America
Shikoku18,800Japan4,141,955220.3AsiaEast Asia
Grande Terre16,648New Caledonia (France)208,70912.5OceaniaMelanesia
Palawan12,189Philippines430,00035.3AsiaSoutheast Asia
Hawaii10,434United States of America185,07917.7OceaniaPolynesia
Viti Levu10,388Fiji600,00057.0OceaniaMelanesia

By continent

Antarctica

Asia

North America

  • Central American Pacific Islands
  • List of islands of North America

Oceania

South America

By country

American Samoa

Australia

Canada

Chile

China

  • List of islands of China

Colombia

Cook Islands

Costa Rica

Ecuador

Fiji

France

French Polynesia

Guam

Hong Kong

Indonesia

Japan

Kiribati

Macau

  • List of islands of Macau

Malaysia

Marshall Islands

Mexico

Micronesia

Islands of Federated States of Micronesia

Nauru

  • Nauru, a country and single island

New Caledonia

New Zealand

Niue

  • Niue, a country and single island

Northern Mariana Islands

Palau

Palau has over 250 islands, including:

Panama

Papua New Guinea

Philippines

Russia

Samoa

Solomon Islands

Taiwan

Tokelau

List of islands of Tokelau

    • Tokelau (mostly autonomous), three coral atolls with about 25 islands combined, including:
      • Olohega (Swains Island), administered by the United States as part of American Samoa, but claimed by Tokelau due to geography, history and language

Tonga

Tuvalu

United Kingdom

United States

Vanuatu

Wallis and Futuna

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.
  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. 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. ISBN 9780160882326.
  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. 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. "Divisões dos continentes" (PDF). IBGE. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 August 2021. Retrieved 12 January 2021.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. Cornell, Sophia S. Cornell's Primary Geography: Forming Part First of a Systematic Series of School Geographies. Harvard University. Archived from the original on 30 July 2022. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  27. Missionary Review of the World: Volume 18. Funk & Wagnalls. 1895. p. 533. Archived from the original on 30 July 2022. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  28. Stephen Henningham (1995). The Pacific Island States. London: Macmillan Press. doi:10.1057/9780230372436. ISBN 978-1-349-39416-6.
  29. 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.
  30. "Pacific Islands | Countries, Map, & Facts | Britannica". www.britannica.com.
  31. 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
  32. Henderson, John William (1971). Area Handbook for Oceania. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 5. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  33. "Oceania | Definition, Population, & Facts | Britannica". www.britannica.com.
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
  36. 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.
  37. "UNSD — Methodology". Unstats.un.org. Retrieved 2022-07-19.
  38. O'Malley, Nick (September 21, 2014). "'Australia is a Pacific island - it has a responsibility'". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  39. "Consultations on Pacific Islands Forum 2050 Strategy". Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
  40. "Pacific forum looks to widen entry - ABC News". ABC News. Abc.net.au. 27 August 2012. Retrieved 2022-03-02.
  41. "The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) | Coopération Régionale et Relations Extérieures de la Nouvelle-Calédonie". Cooperation-regionale.gouv.nc. Retrieved 2022-03-02.
  42. "Japan, U.S. Increase cooperation to enhance Pacific islands' security | Indo-Pacific Defense Forum".
  43. "Indonesia's "Pacific elevation": Elevating what and who? - Griffith Asia Insights".
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