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largest islands, Irian Jaya, size of Alaska, islets, Pacific Islands

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>  Nauru (Naoero)

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>  Solomon Islands

>  Tonga

>  Tuvalu

>  Vanuatu

Pacific Islands or Oceania, the more than 25,000 islands and islets of 25 nations and territories spread over the western and central Pacific Ocean. Although the Pacific Islands are scattered across millions of square kilometers, their total land area is just 1,261,456 sq km (487,051 sq mi)—slightly larger than South Africa, slightly smaller than Peru, and four-fifths the size of Alaska. The islands of New Guinea, New Zealand, and Hawaii constitute 93 percent of the land area, while the remaining thousands of islands have a total land area of 89,339 sq km (34,494 sq mi), slightly less than the American state of Indiana. New Guinea, shared by the Indonesian province of Papua (formerly Irian Jaya) and the nation of Papua New Guinea, is the second largest island in the world, after Greenland. New Zealand’s South Island and North Island, Oceania’s next largest islands, are the world’s 12th and 14th largest islands, respectively.


Pacific Islands

Colbert, Evelyn. The Pacific Islands: Paths to the Present. Westview, 1997. Concise history of Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia, including a discussion of current issues such as governance, nuclear testing, and exploitation of natural resources.

D'Alleva, Anne. Art of the Pacific Islands. Abrams, 1998. Introduction to the variety of Pacific Island art forms.

Denoon, Donald, and others, eds. The Cambridge History of the Pacific Islanders. Cambridge University Press, 1997. Comprehensive single volume history.

Howe, K. R.; Robert C. Kiste; and Brij V. Lal, eds. Tides of History: The Pacific Islands in the Twentieth Century. Allen, 1995. Comprehensive analysis of change in the South Pacific during the 20th century. Discusses differences between the many cultural groups.

Kirch, Patrick V. On the Road of the Winds: An Archaeological History of the Pacific Islands Before European Contact. University of California Press, 2000. An archaeologist's narrative of his discoveries regarding the prehistory of the region.

Moss, Joyce, and George Wilson. Peoples of the World: Asians and Pacific Islanders: The Culture, Geographical Setting, and Historical Background of 41 Asian and Pacific Island Peoples. Gale, 1993. Good general reference, arranged alphabetically by ethnic group.

Theroux, Paul. The Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific. Penguin, 1992. Little-known destinations are described in this travel narrative of 18 months kayaking in Oceania.


Ulack, Richard, B.A., M.S., Ph.D. Professor of Geography, University of Kentucky. Coauthor of Mobility and Employment in Urban Southeast Asia: Examples from Indonesia and the Philippines and Atlas of Southeast Asia.

Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation.

Article key phrases:

largest islands, Irian Jaya, size of Alaska, islets, Pacific Islands, North Island, South Island, square kilometers, Greenland, Hawaii, Peru, South Africa, New Zealand, Oceania, world, percent, nations, territories

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