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The Pacific Ocean is the largest geographical feature on earth, more so than all the land areas of the world combined. Yet its depths and its islands remains a mystery to most of us on this planet.
If you have ever dreamt of being on a deserted island, or desired to have the turquoise horizon to yourself with soft sand beneath your toes, then the Pacific Islands are for you.
The Polynesian triangle stretches across the Pacific from New Zealand to Easter Island and north to Hawaii.
The Polynesian countries and territories included on our South Pacific map are French Polynesia, Pitcairn, Easter Island, the Cook Islands, Niue, Tonga, American Samoa, Samoa, Tokelau, Wallis and Futuna, and Tuvalu.
South Pacific travel focuses on vacation islands like Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, Rapa Nui, Rarotonga, Aitutaki, Tongatapu, Vavau, Tutuila, Upolu, and Savaii.
The name Polynesia comes from the Greek words poly (many) and nesos (islands). The term was originally coined by Charles de Brosses in 1756 and applied to all the Pacific Ocean islands. The present restricted use was proposed by Dumont d'Urville in 1831.
The tall, golden-skinned peoples of this vast region speak closely related languages developed from a single mother tongue. Robert Louis Stevenson called them "God's best, at least God's sweetest work."
Melanesia curves down from New Guinea to the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, and Fiji.
While in Polynesia small coral islands and atolls are mixed with soaring volcanoes, in Melanesia the main islands are much larger, many of them remnants of a sunken continent.
Dumont d'Urville coined the name from melas (black) and nesos (islands) on account of the predominant skin color of the regions diverse peoples.
Melanesia is a region of striking contrasts, from thoroughly French Noumea, capital of the overseas French territory of New Caledonia, to Vanuatu's capital Port Vila where France, Britain, and Melanesia mix, and Honiara on Guadalcanal, a famous World War Two battleground.
Fiji is almost considered part of Melanesia, though the Polynesian element there is strong. South Pacific cruise ships frequently call at vibrant cities and dazzling beaches on these colorful islands.
Micronesia lies between Hawaii and the Philippines in the North Pacific. Dumont d'Urville named it for its mikros (small) nesos (islands), literally thousands of which make up the Marshall, Caroline, Mariana, and Gilbert groups.
Micronesia is broken down into seven distinct entities, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Territory of Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of Palau, the Republic of Kiribati, and Nauru.
The most popular air travel route through the region features stops on Majuro, Kwajalein, Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Guam, Saipan, Yap, and Koror.
These islands have been heavily impacted by outsiders, first German and Japanese colonialists prior to the world wars, then as trusts or associates of the United States. Kiribati is a former British colony.
It's an intriguing region to visit, though difficult to combine with South Pacific travel.
The Republic of Palau became an independent nation on
October 1, 1994 in part with the implementation of the Compact of Free
Association between Palau and the United States of America.
Palau stretches from about 500 miles equidistant from the Philippines to the
west and from Papua New Guinea to the south, and consists of more than 340
islands, of which only 9 are inhabited.
These are, from Northeast to Southwest: Kayangel, Babeldaob,
Koror, Peliliu, Angaur, Sonsorol, Pulo Anna, Hatohobei, and Helen Reef.
Most of the islands are of volcanic origin, and others are of
is the largest island, making up 80 percent of the total land area. Babeldaob Island consists of ten states, namely, Airai, Aimeliik,
Ngeremlengui, Ngerchelong, Ngchesar, Melekeok, Ngiwal, Ngaraard,
Ngardmau and Ngatpang States. Including the states in Babeldaob, there
are altogether 16 States in Palau.
Palau covers 189 square miles of land area including
The surrounding sea
area is very large, including an exclusive economic zone extending over 237,850
square miles. The capital of Palau
is located in Koror with a land area of 7.1 square miles where two thirds of the
population resides. Koror lies just
south of Micronesia’s second largest island, Bebeldaob, which contains 153
square miles of undulating forests, grasslands, rivers, waterfalls, wetlands,
mangroves and some of the most beautiful stretches of beaches.