Oceania is a continent that includes Australia and the surrounding South Pacific Islands. Located between Asia and South America, this area is comprised of four regions: Australasia, Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia.
Australasia is the biggest region in Oceania in terms of land and population. It includes Australia and New Zealand which both have first world economies and cities that regularly rank as some of the most livable in the word. But both countries also have sparse populations compared with their available landmass.
Polynesia is a triangular shaped region east of Australia. Its boundaries are New Zealand to the south, Hawaii to the north, and Easter Island to the east. Samoa, Tonga, and French Polynesia are other prominent nations in Polynesia. While New Zealand belongs to Australasia it is part of Polynesia because the native people the Maori are ethnically Polynesian.
Melanesia lies to the west of Polynesia. New Guinea is the big island here and smaller outlying islands are linked culturally and linguistically. Includes are Fiji, New Caledonia, and Vanuatu, which are all great holiday destinations.
Micronesia is north of Polynesia and Melanesia. Islands here include: Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Northern Mariana Islands, and Palau. These islands have a strong American influence.
Top 10 cities by population
Sydney is the biggest city in Australia. The Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge are two of the most iconic structures in the world. The city also has many natural attractions including a spectacular harbour, miles of golden sand beaches, and the Blue Mountains an area of canyons and rainforest.
Melbourne is the cultural capital of Australia. It has both Victorian-era architecture and modern structures. Besides being a major sporting area, the city is renown for its multicultural influences which can be clearly seen in the variety of Asian and European restaurants and retail.
Brisbane is a river city located near some of the best coastline in Australia. The city is one hour from the Gold Coast and two hours from the Sunshine Coast. The hills behind the city are part of the largest sub-tropical rainforest reserve in the world.
Perth is the only city located in Western Australia. Surrounded by desert and sea, this modern city is located in a fertile corner of the country. With a warm Mediterranean type climate, it is just as well that there are great beaches where you can cool off.
Auckland is the biggest city in New Zealand. It often ranks in the top 5 cities in international surveys for standard of living. While blessed with many great beaches, it is more known for the 50 or so volcanic cones scattered throughout the suburbs.
Adelaide is a city on the edge of the endless Outback. While deserts lie to the north, the southern part of the city has some great beaches. Further south and outside the city is the famous Barossa Valley, the oldest wine region in the country.
Gold Coast is a city on the beach. Highrise apartments crowd together to fight over views of the coastline. Behind the highrise, houses have been built around a complex series of waterways that are bigger than the canal system of Venice.
Wellingtonis a city built around a spectacular harbour with houses perched on steep hills. The city offers spectacular views of the harbour, southern and western coastlines, and a high mountain range. The city itself is compact and is renown for its cafe culture.
Canberra the capital, is Australia's biggest inland city. Being a planned city, it is neatly laid out in a spider web fashion around lakes and hills. The design was influenced by the garden city movement. Think of a city built in a giant park.
Christchurch in New Zealand is known as the most English looking city outside England which is ironic given that it is also the furthest city in the world from England. The city centre was devastated by powerful earthquakes and is in now in rebuild mode.
Top 10 places to visit
The Great Barrier Reef in Australia includes the Whitsunday Islands, Hamilton Island, Port Douglas, and Cairns. This reef needs no introduction. It is the largest on the planet and clearly visible from space. There are around 1000 islands in the reef;
Fraser Island in Australia is the largest sand island in the world. It has pristine lakes and rainforest which sit entirely on pure white sand;
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the centre of Australia is a desert area with huge monoliths, salt lakes, red sand, and rich Aboriginal sites;
Purnululu National Park was discovered in 1983 by a TV film crew. The park consists of otherworldly domed shaped mountains and steep gorges. It is a memorable landscape like no other on earth;
Kakadu National Park in Northern Australia is a huge tropical park with rugged landscapes, waterfalls, and lots of wildlife;
Queenstown and Fiordlandin New Zealand exist side by side. Features include: steep mountains, pristine lakess, spectacular fiords including Milford Sound, some of the tallest waterfalls in the world, and arguably the most scenic walks in the world;
Mt Cook National Park in New Zealand contains the tallest peaks in all of Australasia. This alpine wonderland is where Sir Edmund Hillary trained before being the first to conquer Mt Everest;
Rotorua in New Zealand has volcanic features that easily rival other volcanic sites around the world such as Iceland or Yellowstone;
Tahiti and Bora Bora are islands in French Polynesia. Both islands are renown for their beaches, lagoons, and high mountain peaks. Bora Bora is often voted as having the world's best beach by the likes of National Geographic;
The Isle of Pines in New Caledonia was described by the famous explorer Captain James Cook as the 'Jewel of the Pacific'. Today, the island is little changed with stunning beaches, lagoons, and unusual looking pine trees that rise high above coastal palms.