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Australia's concept of Australasia, which includes Australia, New Zealand and, in this case, Melanesia

Australasia is a subregion of Oceania, comprising Australia, New Zealand, and some neighbouring islands in the Pacific Ocean. The term is used in a number of different contexts, including geopolitically, physiogeographically, philologically, and ecologically, where the term covers several slightly different but related regions.

Derivation and definitions[edit]

Charles de Brosses coined the term (as French Australasie) in Histoire des navigations aux terres australes[1] (1756). He derived it from the Latin for "south of Asia" and differentiated the area from Polynesia (to the east) and the southeast Pacific (Magellanica).[2]

In the late 19th century, the term Australasia was used in reference to the "Australasian colonies". In this sense it related specifically to the British colonies south of Asia: New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia, Victoria (i.e., the Australian colonies) and New Zealand.[3] Australasia found continued geopolitical attention in the early 20th century. Historian Hansong Li finds that against the backdrop of British colonialism, German geopoliticians considered "Australasia" as a counterweight to the former German South Sea Edge (Südseerand), both of which form the "Indo-Pacific" region.[4]

The New Zealand Oxford Dictionary gives two meanings of "Australasia". One, especially in Australian use, is "Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, and the neighbouring islands of the Pacific". The other, especially in New Zealand use, is just Australia and New Zealand.[5]

Two Merriam-Webster dictionaries online (Collegiate and Unabridged) define Australasia as "Australia, New Zealand, and Melanesia". The American Heritage Dictionary online recognizes two senses in use: one more precise, being similar to the aforementioned senses,[clarification needed] and the other broader, loosely covering all of Oceania.


Arms Flag Name of region, followed by countries Area
Population density
(per km2)
Capital ISO 3166-1
Australia Ashmore and Cartier Islands Ashmore and Cartier Islands (Australia) 199
Australia Australia Australia 7,686,850 25,921,089 3.1 Canberra AU
Australia Christmas Island Christmas Island (Australia) 135 1,692 12.5 Flying Fish Cove CX
Australia Cocos (Keeling) Islands Cocos (Keeling) Islands (Australia) 14 593 42.4 West Island CC
Australia Coral Sea Islands Coral Sea Islands (Australia) 10 4 0.4
New Zealand New Zealand New Zealand 268,680 5,129,727 17.3 Wellington NZ
Norfolk Island Norfolk Island Norfolk Island (Australia) 35 2,302 65.8 Kingston NF
Australasia (total) 7,955,923 29,645,874 3.7

See also[edit]


  1. ^ de Brosses, Charles (1756). Histoire des navigations aux terres Australes. Contenant ce que l'on sçait des moeurs & des productions des contrées découvertes jusqu'à ce jour; & où il est traité de l'utilité d'y faire de plus amples découvertes, & des moyens d'y former un établissement [History of voyages to the Southern Lands. Containing what is known concerning the customs and products...] (in French). Paris: Durand. Retrieved 2013-12-08.
  2. ^ Douglas, Bronwen (2014). Science, Voyages, and Encounters in Oceania, 1511–1850. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 6.
  3. ^ Lee, Joseph (1889). "Anti-Chinese Legislation in Australasia". The Quarterly Journal of Economics. 3 (2). p. 220. doi:10.2307/1879468. JSTOR 1879468.
  4. ^ Li, Hansong (2021). "The "Indo-Pacific": Intellectual Origins and International Visions in Global Contexts" (PDF). Modern Intellectual History. 19 (3): 20–23. doi:10.1017/S1479244321000214. S2CID 236226422. Retrieved 30 July 2022.
  5. ^ Deverson, Tony; Kennedy, Graeme, eds. (2005). "Australasia". New Zealand Oxford Dictionary. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acref/9780195584516.001.0001. ISBN 9780195584516.
  6. ^ "World Population Prospects 2022". United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. Retrieved July 17, 2022.
  7. ^ "World Population Prospects 2022: Demographic indicators by region, subregion and country, annually for 1950-2100" (XSLX) ("Total Population, as of 1 July (thousands)"). United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. Retrieved July 17, 2022.
  • Richards, Kel (2006). "Australasia". Wordwatch. ABC News Radio. Archived from the original on 2007-03-18. Retrieved 2006-09-30.

External links[edit]

28°06′32″S 146°18′00″E / 28.10889°S 146.30000°E / -28.10889; 146.30000