The culturally rich and diverse region of Oceania holds the distinction of being the world’s smallest continent. Located below the equator and spanning most of the Pacific Ocean, it is made up of hundreds of islands. These are grouped into ethnological sub-regions known as Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia. Often called Australia/Oceania, the area also includes the large expanse of Australia and its neighbour New Zealand.
Oceania contains a vast array of different climates and environments, such as Australia’s barren Outback desert, the lush forests and snow-topped volcanic mountains of New Zealand, and the dreamy lagoons and tropical beaches of the Pacific Islands. While many islanders migrate to the big cities of the larger countries, hundreds of native minority groups live mostly self-sufficiently on small islands, maintaining their centuries-old cultural traditions.
Although English is spoken in the main centres, with French being the language of choice in New Caledonia, there are hundreds of island dialects, some of which are in danger of disappearing forever.