Pacific Ocean comprises 25,000 islands, divided into three ethnic,
cultural and linguistic regions, Melanesia, Polynesia and Micronesia, where only
a few thousand islands are inhabited. The general dramatic expression is based
on the islanders' everyday life; the sea, family relationships, cultural and
social values, legends, etc. and appears as a combination of music, dance,
storytelling and comic elements, performed by larger groups of highly
professional artists, who, however, like many Southeast Asian artists do not
have it as their way of life. Most performances are performed as part of
festivals, religious ceremonies or community-oriented celebrations, where up to
several hundred dancers perform in line or in races. Dance and music are such an
integral part of the culture that everyone can and wants to participate, whereby
the focus of the experience is the unison expression rather than the individual.
The contact with the western world from the 16th century has, however, in many
cases been fatal to the drama forms of the islands, which were first considered
by missionaries to be pagan and attempted to be destroyed and have since been
influenced by the outside pop culture. The latter half of the 20th century,
however, has seen a search back to the primitive forms and an awareness of the
lost cultural heritage, not least through the Pacific Festival of Arts, which
since 1972 every four years brings together artists from across the region.
Modern theater has to a large extent also been characterized by the desire to
re-establish cultural identity. Inspired by their own not least through the
Pacific Festival of Arts, which since 1972 brings together artists from across
the region every four years. Modern theater has to a large extent also been
characterized by the desire to re-establish cultural identity. Inspired by their
own ritual theater and western theater theorists such as Augusto Boal and Jerzy
Grotowski have created epic and socially realistic works on societal topics such
as AIDS, education, violence, nature conservation, etc.
The indigenous peoples of the Pacific have, according to
European tradition, been divided into a number of cultural areas based in part
on superficial racial divisions: Australia (Aborigines), Melanesia ('Black
Islands'), Micronesia ('Small Islands') and Polynesia ('the many islands'). In
Oceania, the Aborigines as well as the population of New Guinea and part of the
Melanesian Islands constitute the oldest population dating back over 40,000
years. A later Austronesian immigration from Southeast Asia has from
approximately 3000 BC populated the rest of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.
A table of Australian countries, capitals, population and area can be found on
Countryaah - Countries
No animal groups are particularly characteristic of
Oceania; however, the distribution of the butterfly group Aglossata is limited
to part of this area (Fiji and Vanuatu) as well as Australia. New Guinea and
other major islands NE of Australia have very rich fauna with Australian and
Oriental relations, see Wallace's line; Of particular note are the two species
of anteaters (see sewer animals) found in New Guinea. See also Australia and New
The species richness of the smaller islands in Oceania depends to a large
extent on whether the islands are of continental origin or are oceanic without
ever having been connected to the mainland (volcanic and coral islands).
Continental islands are most often species-rich and house many endemic species
or groups. Oceanic islands are generally species-poor and usually lack
non-flying vertebrates; on the other hand, there may be a significant number of
endemic invertebrates such as banana flies in Hawaii.
The wildlife of the islands of Oceania is an exemplary example of
distribution patterns dictated by isolation and size (see island biogeography):
the more isolated, the fewer species. The Solomon Islands thus have 127 species
of native land birds, New Caledonia 77, the Fiji Islands 54, Samoa 33, the
Society Islands of French Polynesia 17 and Henderson Island at Pitcairn 1, while
Easter Island has none at all.
Oceania's many islands are divided into three main groups
according to their plate tectonic formation. The first group includes some of
the largest islands such as New Zealand and New Caledonia. They are located in
the collision zone between the Indo-Australian Plate and the Pacific Plate and
consist of younger rocks, which are formed during the alpine folding. The
islands contain fragments of continental plates and intertwined volcanic island
arches. They are characterized by mountain ranges with strongly folded and
metamorphosed rocks, and considerable volcanism occurs.
The second group consists of young volcanic island arches formed over active
subduction zones, where one ocean floor plate is passed down below another. An
example of this is the Marianas archipelago, which is formed where the Pacific
plate is introduced under the Philippine plate.
The third group consists of a large number of smaller islands, especially on
the inner part of the Pacific plate. These islands are primarily formed by
underwater volcanism, caused by hot spots, ie. point-rising heat flows from the
mantle. If the volcanism ceases, a gradual subsidence occurs. Where the ocean
floor plate moves over a prolonged hot spot, the active volcanic islands will
therefore have a long strip of extinct and "drowned" volcanic islands after
them, such as the Hawaiian archipelago. In the subtropical and tropical parts of
the Pacific Ocean, vigorous growth of corals can occur at the same rate as
subsidence, and coral islands and atolls form over the drowned volcanic islands.
At higher latitudes, the islands become submarine mountains and plateaus.