Melanesia

Melanesia (UK: /ˌmɛləˈnziə/, US: /ˌmɛləˈnʒə/) is a subregion of Oceania in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It extends from New Guinea in the west to Tonga in the east, and includes the Arafura Sea and a few thousand islands.

The geographical extent of Melanesia
The three major cultural areas in the Pacific Ocean: Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia
Map showing the sovereignty of islands of Melanesia

The region includes the four independent countries of Fiji, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea. It also includes parts of Indonesia – notably the provinces of Papua and West Papua and the French oversea collectivity of New Caledonia. Almost all of the region is in the Southern Hemisphere; only a few small islands that aren't politically considered part of Oceania—specifically the northwestern islands of Western New Guinea—lie in the Northern Hemisphere.

The name Melanesia (in French, Mélanésie) was first used in 1832 by French navigator Jules Dumont d'Urville: he coined the terms Melanesia and Micronesia along the preexisting Polynesia to designate what he viewed as the three main ethnic and geographical regions forming the Pacific.


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