Oceania is a geographic region comprising Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. Spanning the eastern and western hemispheres, Oceania covers an area of 8,525,989 km2 and has a population of million. Situated in the southeast of the Asia-Pacific region, Oceania, when compared to continental regions, is the smallest in land area and the second smallest in population after Antarctica.
The islands at the geographic extremes of Oceania are the Bonin Islands, a politically integral part of Japan; Hawaii, a state of the United States; Clipperton Island, a possession of France; the Juan Fernández Islands, belonging to Chile; and the Campbell Islands, belonging to New Zealand. Oceania has a diverse mix of economies from the highly developed and globally competitive financial markets of Australia and New Zealand, which rank high in quality of life and human development index, to the much less developed economies that belong to countries such as Kiribati and Tuvalu, while also including medium-sized economies of Pacific islands such as Palau, Fiji and Tonga. The largest and most populous country in Oceania is Australia, with Sydney being the largest city of both Oceania and Australia.
The first settlers of Australia, New Guinea, and the large islands just to the east arrived more than 60,000 years ago. Oceania was first explored by Europeans from the 16th century onward. Portuguese navigators, between 1512 and 1526, reached the Tanimbar Islands, some of the Caroline Islands and west Papua New Guinea. On his first voyage in the 18th century, James Cook, who later arrived at the highly developed Hawaiian Islands, went to Tahiti and followed the east coast of Australia for the first time. The Pacific front saw major action during the Second World War, mainly between Allied powers the United States and Australia, and Axis power Japan.
The arrival of European settlers in subsequent centuries resulted in a significant alteration in the social and political landscape of Oceania. In more contemporary times there has been increasing discussion on national flags and a desire by some Oceanians to display their distinguishable and individualistic identity. The rock art of Australian Aborigines is the longest continuously practiced artistic tradition in the world. Puncak Jaya in Papua is often considered the highest peak in Oceania. Most Oceanian countries have a parliamentary representative democratic multi-party system, with tourism being a large source of income for the Pacific Islands nations.
The geographer Conrad Malte-Brun coined the French term Océanie c. undefined 1812. Océanie derives from the Latin word, and this from the Greek word (ōkeanós), "ocean". Natives and inhabitants of this region are called Oceanians or Oceanicans. The term Oceania is used because, unlike the other continental groupings, it is the ocean that links the parts of the region together.
* Biogeographically, Oceania serves as a synonym for the Australasian ecozone and the Pacific ecozone (Melanesia, Polynesia, and Micronesia), with New Zealand forming the south-western corner of the Polynesian Triangle. Note that New Zealand may also be considered part of Australasia, despite traditionally forming a part of Polynesia.
* As an ecozone, Oceania includes all of Micronesia, Fiji, and all of Polynesia except New Zealand. New Zealand, along with New Guinea and nearby islands, part of the Philippine islands, Australia, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia, constitute the separate Australasian ecozone.
* In the geopolitical conception used by the United Nations, by the International Olympic Committee, and by many atlases, Oceania includes Australia and the nations of the Pacific from Papua New Guinea east, but not Indonesian New Guinea.