The islands of the Pacific are situated on the Pacific Ocean. It is divided into the three ethnic-geographic groups namely Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. It excludes the island continent of Australia, the Asia-related Indonesian, Japanese and Philippine archipelagoes. The islands cover over 300,000 square miles or 800,000 square km of land, of which New Zealand and New Guinea make up nine-tenth. Apart from these, there are independent states, dependent states, associated states and fundamental parts of Non-Pacific Island countries.
The arc of islands situated towards the north and east of Australia and then the south of the Equator is known as Melanesia. It comprises of New Guinea Island, Bismarck Archipelago, Vanuatu (the New Hebrides), Solomon Islands, New Caledonia and Fiji.
North of Equator and east of Philippines are islands of Micronesia, which ranges from Palau, Guam and goes up to Northern Mariana Islands. It goes through the west eastward side of Federated States of Micronesia (Caroline Islands), Nauru, the Marshall Islands to Kiribati.
The eastern Pacific is enclosed with the triangle shape of Hawaiian Islands towards the north, then New Zealand to the southwest and Easter Island (Rapa Nui) to the east. They also have numerous Polynesian Islands in this section. Some widely scattered islands from west to east would include Tuvalu, Wallis and Futuna, Niue, Samoa, American Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga, Cook Islands and French Polynesia.
The main islands span through the Equator obliquely, right from north-west to south-east. It is divided into two main physiographic regions according to the island type of continental or oceanic. The deep ocean trenches result in the Andesite Line, which goes along the eastern borders of Japan, Marianas, Solomon Islands, New Guinea, New Zealand and Fiji. The lines separate basaltic volcanic islands of the eastern and central region from the western Pacific margin. This side has a contrast of metamorphosed rocks, andesitic volcanic materials and sediments.
The continental islands which lie southwestward of Andesite Line are folded in mountainous arcs and are higher and larger than the ones farther towards the east. The soil is rich here, and can support all types of vegetation. These islands are larger and the notable ones for tourism are Marianas, New Guinea, Bismarcks, Solomons, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji and New Zealand. They support richer mineral-bearing soils than other counterparts.
The main lava material of the oceanic type of islands is basalt. They are specified with high volcanic-based islands like Hawaii, or atolls and coral islands like Marshalls. Most of the Pacific islands are coral formations, although the lie on volcanic or other cores. The shallow waters of the tropics are prone to having coral growth in both continental and oceanic islands. These are a form of fringing reefs or partially submerged consolidated limestone along with coral organisms at the edge of the ocean. Numerous islands have sunk due to geologic actions and floods due to melting icecaps. When islands flood, the coral growth continues outward and that produces barrier reefs to form further from shorelines, and these are separated by lagoons.
The prehistoric parts which have no written records date back to 33,000 years according to archaeological remains at the Bismarck Archipelago. Migration to this region had started over 40,000 years ago. The settlers reached habitable islands by 2nd millennium CE. The arrival of Europeans happened in the early 16th century and since then, the culture, population and economy of the islands started transforming. From passing explorers to permanent inhibitors, the islands started gaining importance from late 18th century. During 19th and 20th centuries, there were numerous settlers, immigrated labourers, European administrators, etc. The missionaries and immigrants still take up significant segments of their population today. However, European governments have withdrawn from the region except France.
Climate of Pacific Islands:
Since the Pacific Islands are divided into the three regions, it is better to explain their climatic differences individually. They are as follow:
- Climate at Melanesia Islands:
These islands are located in the South Pacific and have a tropical climate all through the year. The hot and humid months are from November to April, while May to October stays drier and cooler. The countries close to the equator like Tuvalu, Samoa and Solomon Islands are warmer than the ones towards the south, like Cook Islands, New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga.
- Climate at Micronesia Islands:
These islands have a touch of tropical weathers as well and are also divided into two major seasons. The dry seasons span from December to April, while the rest of the months are rainy. They have heavy rainfall from July to October. The temperature is always bearable being between 26-32° Celsius. The waters are just about or below 30° Celsius. Micronesia is prone to typhoons from July to mid-November and that can cause floods and erosion. They are mostly towards the north-west and rarely reach the islands, and sometimes not strong enough for destruction too.
- Climate at Polynesian Islands:
The climate here can be described as warm and tropical. The temperatures are warm almost through the year but that maximum to expect is 35° Celsius. The trade winds from east and south-east bring in some cooling breezes by late noon and early eve. The tropical rain season lies from December to February and also coincides with the warmest summer months! Summers are from November to February, but it gets mildly cold during the nights, from April to September, which is supposedly their winter months. Typhoons are likely to hit from January to mid-March. However, they aren’t much of a danger to the islands.
Pacific Island Attractions:
The Pacific Islands as a traveller’s destination is packed with adventures in pristine landscapes, boldest natural spectacles, and friendly cultural interaction. People from nations around, love to come here and indulge in the infrastructures, natural treats, off-beaten tracks and amenities. The main islands of Pacific for visits would include:
- American Samoa
- Cook Islands
- The Federated States of Micronesia
- French Polynesia
- Marshall Islands
- New Caledonia
- Northern Mariana Islands
- Papua New Guinea
- Solomon Islands
All of these are easily accessible by water and air, and have the real adventures in store for you! Get active in the middle of the hidden and remote areas, go into the jungles and interiors of the islands, laze around the rivers and explore rich biodiversity. From venturing into the underwater swimming to mingling with some local people, every experience is delightful here.