Melanesia

The countries of Fiji, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea make up which region?

And the answer: Melanesia.    

Photo credit: KhufuOsiris. 

The island region known as Melanesia is located north and northeast of mainland Australia. Melanesia is one of the three major cultural areas in the Pacific Ocean, which also includes Micronesia and Polynesia.

Though the Pacific Ocean spans nearly half of our Earth's surface, the grand majority of its waters are uninhabitable, vast and empty. Melanesia, along with other Pacific Island regions such as Polynesia and Micronesia, represents islands on the Pacific Ocean where life and the cultures of indigenous peoples thrive. Together with Australia, Melanesia comes to form an integral part of the region of Oceania.

Photo credit: Britannica.com

In this region of the Pacific, the largest swath of ocean is occupied by Polynesia, or the Polynesian triangle. The land which defines the borders of the triangle are New Zealand to the south, Hawai'i to the north, and Easter Island to the east. Out of the regional culture and dialects native to Oceania, Polynesian culture is among some of the most recognizable, from the statues of Easter Island to the traditional hula and luau celebrations of Hawai'i.  

Meanwhile, Melanesia is the second most populated region of Oceania. Melanesia is known for its multifaceted dialect and culture. In fact, the region is one of the most linguistically diverse on the globe – Papua New Guinea has over 800 recognized languages alone! Every community and island has their own language and dialect, though generally the region is divided up into those who speak Austronesian or Papuan languages.

Melanesians inhabit some of the most volcanic land on Earth. The eruptions and lava flows are nearly daily occurrences in some areas, though many others are lush with biodiversity. The ongoing and widespread threat of volcanic eruption has led to adaptive strategies such as temporary settlements, many of which are well-hidden to avoid conflict with other tribes.

Learn more about Melanesia below.


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