The Pacific Ocean & It's Islands





The Pacific Ocean is the world's largest body of water at 165.2 million square kilometers. The ocean covers 1/3rd of the world's surface and accounts for 46% of the earth's water.

The ocean covers an area from the Indonesian Archipelago to it's west to the east coast of South America to it's east, and from the Arctic Sea to it's north to the Southern Ocean to it's south. The ocean is linked with the Atlantic Ocean by way of Drakes Passage, situated at the very southern tip of South America and the Panama Canal, situated on the Isthmus of Panama in Central America.The ocean is divided into north and south at the point of the Equator.

The Pacific borders thirty six countries on three continents, twenty two in Asia, eleven in the Americas and three in Oceania.

The Pacific Ocean was originally named the Mare Pacificum, the Peaceful Sea, by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1519, when he first traveled from west to east via the stretch of water named in his honour, The Magellan Strait, situated off the coast of South America. 


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The Pacific Ocean is renowned for the area known as the Pacific Rim or Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of high tectonic activity and volcanic eruptions, situated along the ocean's entire periphery.

The Pacific is home to the world's largest coral reef, the Great Barrier Reef, situated off the north, east coast of Australia and the deepest point on earth, the Mariana Trench, situated in the Philippine Sea which is 10,911 meters deep, making it deeper than Mount Everest is high.

Geographically the various land masses that are located in the Pacific are generally referred to as Oceania, this can also include the continent of Australia and the island nation of New Zealand. 

The Pacific Ocean is the location of the International Date Line, see map below, an imaginary line passing through the middle of the ocean at the 180th parallel , directly opposite the Prime Meridian, which defines the start of each new calendar day or 24 hour period. 




The Pacific Ocean is home to several, large straits, gulfs and bays, including the Strait of Malakka, the Taiwan Strait, the Cook Strait, the Gulf of Carpenteria, the Gulf of Thailand, the Gulf of Anadyr, the Gulf of Alaska, Korea Bay and Tokyo Bay. The Pacific Ocean also consists of sixteen seas, they are;  


The Sea of Japan.                

The Sea of Okhotsk.                

The Arafura Sea.                              

The Banda Sea.  

The Bohai Sea.                                  

The Celebes Sea.                  

The Coral Sea.                                 

The East China Sea.            

The Java Sea.                         

The Koro Sea. 

The Molucca Sea. 

The Philippine Sea.  

The South China Sea.    

The Sulu Sea.   

The Tasman Sea.  

The Timor Sea    

The Yellow Sea.   


The Pacific Ocean is most renowned for it's many paradise islands, of which it has between twenty and thirty thousand. Not considering Australia as an island - as it is a continent which sits on it's own continental plate - shown below is a list of the Pacific Ocean's ten largest islands.  

New Guinea - 785,753 square kilometers, the world's second largest island. The island is geographically part of Melanesia but politically divided into east and west, with the western half being made up of the two Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua, capital city Jayapura and the eastern half made up of the constitutional monarchy of Papua New Guinea, capital city Port Moresby.

Borneo - Indonesia - 748,168 sq km.

Sumatra - Indonesia - 443,044 sq km.

Sulawesi - Indonesia - 180,681 sq km.

South Island - New Zealand - 145,836 sq km.

Java - 138,794 sq km.

North Island - New Zealand - 111,583 sq km.

Luzon - Philippines - 109,965 sq km.

Mindinao - Philippines - 97,530 sq km.

Hokkaido - Japan - 78,719 sq km.   



The Pacific Ocean's thousands of islands are mainly located in south, east Asia and the south Pacific. Most of the islands belong to the six main island groups of Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines, Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia.  

The island groups were given these names by French navigator, Jules Dumont d'Urville in 1826, in order to differentiate them on shipping maps. Found below are the definitions of these names:  

INDONESIA - Means islands of the Indian Archipelago - Named long before the nation of Indonesia was formed.  

MALAYSIA - Is an ancient Tamil word which means islands of mountains and cities. 

PHILIPPINES - Named after King Philip II of Spain in 1542, by explorer Ruy Lopez de Villalobos.

POLYNESIA - Means many islands. 

MELANESIA - Means black islands - a reference to the colour of the skin of the people who lived there. 

MICRONESIA - Means small islands.   

These island groups consist of several overseas territories, including the U.K's Pitcairn Islands, The U.S.A's Samoa, State of Hawaii and The Marshall Islands, France's French Polynesia, New Zealand's Stewart and Chatham Islands, Australia's island state of Tasmania and Norfolk, Heard and MacDonald Islands, China's Macau, Taiwan and Hong Kong, Chile's Easter Island and Ecuador's Galapagos islands. 



Indonesia - Independent republic - 17,508 islands covering an area of 1,919,440 sq km. 

Malaysia - Constitutional monarchy - 30,000 islands covering an area of 329,847 square kilometers.

The Philippines - Independent republic - 7,107 islands covering an area of 299,764 sq km.

Polynesia - 1,000 islands covering an area of 118,000 sq km, which include New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Tuvalu and Tonga and the island groups of Hawaii, Micronesia and Melanesia.

French Polynesia - 130 islands covering an area of 4,167 sq km, which include the islands of Tahiti, the Gambier Islands,  the Marquesa Islands and the Society Islands.

Galapagos Islands - 15 islands covering 7,880 sq km which are a region of and situated off, the coast of Ecuador in South America.

Aleutian Islands - 300 volcanic outcrops which form the Aleutian Arc off the coast of the American state of Alaska, situated in the north Pacific.

Kuril Islands - A group of 300 volcanic islands which are a region of and situated off the coast of northern Russia, which cover an area of 6,821 sq km, located in the north of the Pacific Ocean.  

Hawaii - An island chain of 137 islands which stretch for 2,400 kilometers, located in the eastern Pacific. 





Cook Islands - Constitutional monarchy - 15 islands covering 240 sq km - Capital, Avarua.

East Timor - Sovereign state covering 14,874 sq km of the island of Timor - Capital, Dili.

Federal States of Micronesia - Independent republic - 607 islands covering 701 sq km - Capital, Palikir.

Fiji - Independent republic - 332 islands covering 18,330 sq km - Capital, Suva.

Kiribati - Independent republic - 32 atolls covering 811 sq kms - Capital, South Tarawa.

Marshall Islands - Independent republic -1,156 islands and coral atolls covering 181 sq km - Capital, Majuro. 

Mariana Islands - 15 islands covering 463 sq km which are an incorporated territory of the USA. 

Nauru - Independent republic - 21 sq km - Capital, Yaren

Palau - Independent republic - 497 sq km - Capital, Koror.

Samoa - Independent republic - 2,831 sq km - Capital, Apia.

Solomon Islands - Commonwealth realm - 1,000 islands covering 28,400 sq km - Capital, Honiara.

Tonga - Constitutional monarchy - 748 sq km - Capital, Nuku'alofa.

Tuvalu - Constitutional monarchy - 25 sq km - Capital, Fongafale

Vanuatu - Independent republic - 82 islands covering 12,190 sq km - Capital, Port Vila.  

West Timor - Province of Indonesia covering an area of 15,850 sq km on the island of Timor. - Capital Kupang.   



Australia - Commonwealth realm - 7,682,300 sq km - Capital, Canberra.

Indonesia - Independent republic - 1,919,440 sq km - Capital, Jakarta.

Japan - Constitutional Monarchy - 377,727 sq km - Capital, Tokyo.

New Zealand - Commonwealth realm - 268,021 sq km - Capital, Wellington.

New Guinea - 785,753 sq km - Contains the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua, capital city Jayapura and the constitutional monarchy of  Papua New Guinea, capital Port Moresby.

The Philippines - Independent republic - 299,764 sq km - Capital, Manila.   



Shown below are twenty eight maps featuring the various Pacific Island groups of -  

Indonesia, Malaysia, Timor, the Philippines, Polynesia, Hawaii, the Cook Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, French Polynesia, the Society Islands, the Austral Islands, the Marquesa Islands, the Toamutu Archipelago, the Gambier Islands, Micronesia, the Northern Mariana Islands, Melanesia, New Guinea, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, the Gilbert Islands, the Galapagos Islands and the United States Minor Outlying Islands.  



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The Republic of Indonesia consists of 17,508 islands which cover an area of 1,919,440 sq km, making it the world's largest archipelago. The island group's largest island is Sumatra at 443,044 sq km. The island group's capital city is Jakarta, situated on the island of Java, the world's most populated island with a population of 138 million people.  

Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy which covers an area of 329,847 square kilometers and has a population of 28.8 million people. 
The country is divided into East Malaysia and West Malaysia by the South China Sea and consists of over thirty thousand islands situated in a sea area of two million square kilometers, making the Malay Archipelago the world's largest. 
The country's capital city is Kuala Lumpur, situated in West Malaysia.


The island of Timor is situated at the extreme south, east of the Indonesian Archipelago, situated in the Timor Sea.  
The island covers an overall area of 30,777 sq km, with the western 53% of the island part of the Indonesian province of West Timor and the eastern 47% of the island is the sovereign state of East Timor.   


The Republic of the Philippines consist of 17,508 islands which cover an area of 299,508 square kilometers. The group's largest island is Luzon at 109,965 square kilometers, where the the country's capital and largest city, Manila, is situated.  


Polynesia consists of over a thousand islands which incorporate some of the most famous of the Pacific Islands, including the main eight islands of Hawaii, Chile's, Easter Island - Rapa Nui, the Republic of Samoa, the Monarchy of Tuvalu, the Kingdom of Tonga, the Cook Islands, Britain's, Pitcairn Island and New Zealand's, Tokelau and Chatham Islands



The Islands of Hawaii are an island chain of 137 islands which stretch for 2,400 km in the eastern Pacific. The Hawaii Islands are the only island state of the United States of America, the most southerly American state and the only American state which is not geographically part of north America. 
The island group's capital and largest city is Honolulu situated on the Island of Oahu. The island group consists of the eight main islands of  -   

Hawaii - 10,432 sq km      
Maui - 1,883 sq km           
Oahu - 1,545 sq km        
Kauai - 1,430 sq km        
Molokai - 673 sq km  
Lanai - 363 sq km  
Ni'ihau - 180 sq km 
Kaho'olawe - 115.5 sq km  

The Cook Islands are a constitutional monarchy which is administered by New Zealand. The Cook Islands consist of fifteen major islands which cover an area of 1,800,000 square kilometres, situated in the south Pacific. Because of the vast distance between islands, the group is generally divided into the Northern Cook Islands and the Southern Cook Islands.  
The island group's largest and most populous island is Raratonga, where the island group's capital city, Avarua, is also situated. 

The Kingdom of Tonga is a group of 169 islands which cover an area of 748 square kilometers. Thirty six islands are inhabited with a population of 104,509 people. 
The largest island of the group is Tongapatu, where the island group's capital city, Nuku'alofa, is situated.  

Tuvalu is a constitutional monarchy of sixteen reef islands which cover an area of 26 square kilometers with a population of 10,500 people.  
The largest island of the group is Fongafale where the island group's capital city, Funafuti, is situated.  


French Polynesia consists of one hundred and thirty islands which are politically made up of  six island groups, all of which are overseas territories of France.


The Society Islands - A group of islands which are made up of the the five island group of thee Windward Islands  and the nine island group of the Leeward Islands. The Society Islands include the island of Bora Bora, a major international tourist destination with a lagoon, barrier reef, aquatic centre and luxury hotels. The group's main island is the Island of Tahiti, which is the location of the island group's capital and largest city, Papeete. Papeete is also the location of the island group's main airport. Fa'aa International Airport


The Austral Islands - A group of two archipelagos, the five island Tubai Archipelago and the two island Bass Archipelago.The seven islands cover an area of 148 sq km. 



The Marquesa Islands are fifteen volcanic islands situated in the north of French Polynesia. The island group's largest island is Nuka Hiva where the island group's capital, Taiohae, is situated.  




The Tuamotu Archipelago is a French Overseas Department located in French Polynesia. The archipelago consists of  seventy eight islands and atolls which cover an area of 850 square kilometres, making it the largest chain of atolls in the world.  
The archipelago is divided into eleven island groups - the four Acteon Islands, the three Disappointment Islands, the four Duke of Gloucester Islands, the fifteen East Tuamotu Islands, the fifiteen Gambier Islands, the eight Hao Islands, the five Hikueru Islands, the five King George Islands, the six Outer Gambier Islands, the ten Palliser Islands and the nineteen Raeffsky Islands.  

The Gambier Islands - Are a group of 14 islands and atolls which cover an area of 35 sq km. The island group's largest island is Mangareva Island, where the island group's largest town, Rikitea, is situated. 


The Federated States of Micronesia consist of 607 islands which cover a land area of 702 sq km, situated just north of the equator some 2,900 km north, east of Papua New Guinea

The group is politically made up of the the 500 island archipelago of the Caroline Islands, the two island Republics of Nauru and Palau and the four island groups of Chuuk, KosraePohnpei and Yap,  

The island group's largest city is Weno located on the Island of Chuuk and the island group's capital city is Palikir situated on the Island of Pohnpei.  


The Northern Mariana Islands are an unincorporated territory of the U.S.A which are located between the Philippine Sea and the north Pacific, lying north east of the Philippine Islands. The island group consist of fifteen tropical islands, the largest of which is the island of Saipan, which is also the island group's capital.   



Melanesia consists of the seventeen islands and island groups which are located directly north east of Australia. The area consists of the islands of New Guinea, the Republic of Vanuatu, the 332 islands that make up the Republic of Fiji and the 1,000 islands which make up the constitutional monarchy of the Solomon Islands. The area also incorporates France's New Caledonia and Australia's Norfolk Island


The island of New Guinea is situated to the north, east of Australia in the Pacific Ocean. The western part of the island is politically made up of the two Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua and the eastern part of the island is politically made up of the sovereign state of Papua New Guinea
At 785, 753 square kilometres in size, the island is the second largest in the world after Greenland.  


The Republic of Vanuatu consists of eighty two small, volcanic islands which are divided into the six provinces of Malampa, Penama, Sanma, Shefa, Tafea and Torba. The republic's capital is Port Vila, situated on Efate Island in Shefa Province.   


New Caledonia is a French dependency and part of French Polynesia which is situated in the Coral Sea. The dependency is surrounded by coral reefs and consists of the main island of Grand Terre, the Belep Archipelago, the Loyalty Islands, the Chesterfield Islands and the Isle of Pines. The dependency's capital city is Noumea, situated on Grand Terre. 

The Solomon Islands is a sovereign island state which consists of one thousand islands situated in the south Pacific, south of Papua New Guinea and north of Vanuatu.The island group's largest island is Guadacanal, where the island group's capital city, Honiara, is situated. 

The Republic of Fiji consists of three hundred and twenty two islands situated in the south Pacific. The island group's largest island is Viti Levu, where the island group's capital city, Suva, is situated. 



The Republic of the Marshall Islands are an island group consisting of 1,156 islands and coral atolls situated north, east of the Federated States of Micronesia. The island group's largest island is Kwajalein and the island group's capital is the coral atoll of Majuro.  



The Republic of Kiribati is situated in the mid Pacific between the island nation of Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands. Kiribati consists of thirty two coral atolls, which straddle the Equator, and cover an area of  811 sq km. The archipelago consists of the largest atoll, Banaba, the Gilbert Islands, which consist of sixteen coral atolls, the Phoenix Islands, which consist of eight coral atolls and the Line Islands, which consist of eight coral atolls and one reef. 
Kiribat's capital is South Tarawa situated on Tarawa Atoll.   



The Gilbert Islands are a group of sixteen coral islands and coral atolls which make up the largest part, both geographically and demographically, of the Republic of Kiribati. The islands straddle the Equator and are therefore divided into the Northern Gilbert Islands and the Southern Gilbert Islands. The Northern Gilbert Islands are the location of the island group's largest island, Tarawa Atoll, where Kiribati's capital, South Tarawa, is located. 



Situated in the eastern Pacific and straddling the Equator, the Galapagos Islands are an archipelago of 123 islands which are politically annexed to Ecuador. The archipelago consists of 13 main islands, the largest of which is the island of Izabella. The archipelago's capital and largest city is Puerto Baquerizo Moreno situated on the island of San Cristobal, the group's most easterly island. 




Situated between the Hawaii Islands and the Marshall Islands, the U.S Minor Outlying Islands are a group of eight, insular, uninhabited islands which cover an area of 34.2 sq km which are situated in the north Pacific region.The islands are used exclusively for scientific or military purposes. 
The most famous of these islands is the Island of Midway, so called because of it's midway position between the continents of Asia and the Americas. The Island of Midway was the location of the Battle of Midway, one of the most important naval battles of the Pacific Campaign of the Second World War, fought in 1942 between the United States and Japan.  

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