Religion in Oceania

Know some general characteristics of Oceania, a continent basically formed by islands.

The Oceania is a continent located southeast of Asia, bathed in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the smallest among the continents, the most isolated and, therefore, the last to be discovered and conquered by the Europeans, being therefore called “brand new world”.

Most of its land, about 94%, is Australian territory, being the only portion of land of continental dimensions from that location. The other 6% is divided into thousands and thousands of islands. In total, there are 14 countries and 38 million inhabitants, spread over an area of 8,480,000 km².

Australia, in addition to being the largest country in territorial dimensions, is also the most economically and socially developed, having the third highest Human Development Index on the planet. Sydney, is the largest, most populous and most developed city on the continent. For these reasons, many people call it Australasia.

The portion of islands that make up Oceania is regionalized by Countryaah in Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. In literal translation, these names mean, respectively, “islands inhabited by blacks”, “small islands” and “many islands”. Look at the map below to see this division:

The continent is considered to have a recent geological formation, so that much of its relief is of volcanic origin and has suffered to a lesser extent the actions of external agents of transformation of soil and rocks. Because it is at the limit between two tectonic plates, many regions have records of earthquakes.

As it is a group of islands, most of the animals in Oceania are endemic, that is, they only exist in that part of the world, and are therefore constantly threatened with extinction. Among them, we can highlight the Kangaroo and the Tasmanian Demon.

Most of the islands and places that are part of this continent are of great beauty, with truly exuberant landscapes. It is not by chance that the main economic activity of most of these countries is tourism. Other important activities are fishing and agriculture.

Country Capital Languages People
Australia Canberra English Australian
Fiji Suva Fijian, Hindustani, English Fijian
Kiribati Tarawa English *, I-Kiribati **
Marshall Islands Majuro English, Marshallese **
Micronesia Federation Palikir English, Chukese, Pohnpeian, Yapase, Kosrean **
Nauru Yaren Nauruan *, English Nauruan
New Zealand Wellington English *, Maori New Zealanders
Palau Koror Palauan, English **
Papua New Guinea Port Moresby English, Tok Pisin, Hiri Motu Papuan
Solomon Islands Apia Samoan, English Samoan
Samoa Honiara English, Solomon Pijin **
Tonga Nuku’alofa Tongan, English Tongan
Tuvalu Funafuti Tuvaluan, English Tuvaluan
Vanuatu Port Vila Bislama, English, French **

Data: Allcitycodes

Oceania (Religion)

The traditional religions of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia are different, but there are common features. In common are the “great men” who, through personal skill, happiness and prestige, are able to influence nature and society. Happiness, mana, creates an immobility or sacrality, tapu (see taboo), which can be increased or decreased depending on the man’s skill in social, political or religious situations.

The world is influenced by the dead, the mythical cultural heroes and the gods. The dead who live in their own world can be dangerous, but they can also help man, especially their own relatives. The many messianic movements that spread in connection with the arrival of Europeans were due, among other things, to the belief that the whites had returned dead.

The dead are buried twice and in some places the skull is stored separately for cult use. In most of the islands, annual ceremonies are performed for the dead, but the dead are also regularly asked for advice on crisis situations, during ecstatic dances.

Each genus was, according to the myths, assigned rituals in ancient times, which were to be used to secure the course of the Universe, but which could also be used as black magic to destroy enemies. The genus performs annual ceremonies; Among other things, the first crops are celebrated.

The cultural heroes bestowed on humanity the good and the oddities of culture. The gods created the cosmos and blend into the world constantly. They manifest themselves in nature as well as in their cult statues. In the more hierarchical societies, in Polynesia, for example, each genus has a god incarnating in the genus, and the young men are consecrated in the god’s cult in connection with circumcision, skin cuts or tattoos.


Tuvalu, an island state and constitutional monarchy in the southwestern Pacific Ocean approximately 2500 kilometers east of New Guinea and approximately 1000 kilometers north of Fiji, and midway between Australia and Hawaii. Located west of the International Date Line. The nearest neighboring countries are Kiribati in the north and east, the Solomon Islands in the west and in the south Fiji and Wallis and the Futuna Islands. The capital is Funafuti; the administration offices are in Vaiaku on the small island of Fongafale.

Tuvalu borders in the west to the Solomon Islands, in the northwest corner of Nauru, in the north and northeast of Kiribati, in the east to Tokelau (New Zealand) and in the south to Wallis and Futuna (French) and Fiji.

Consists of 9 small coral islands; formerly called the Ellice Islands and is spread over 600 kilometers northwest-southeast. The world’s fourth smallest state by land area. Sea level rise threatens the country’s existence in the long run. Tuvalu is also among the world’s smallest states in terms of population.

Tuvalu (the name) means ‘8 that stands/belongs’ and refers to 8 of the atolls the country consists of (there are actually 9, but the smallest atoll is part of another atoll).

National anthem is ‘Tuvalu mo te Atua’ (‘Tuvalu for the Almighty’).

Geography and environment

The atolls are low and form the peaks of an underwater volcanic chain; the highest point is about 4.5 meters above sea level at Niulakita. The atolls are very exposed to sea level rise (10 centimeters in the last 20 years) and some countries are washed away due to more frequent storms and extremely high tide. There are few natural harbors; Funafuti is the only deep water port. The soil is rocky and there are no watercourses. Tuvalu lacks drinking water and stores rainwater.

The vegetation is mainly grass, ferns, coconut palms and screw palms. One third of the land area is forested.

Only mammal with natural occurrence is Polynesia rat. At the coast there are dolphins and humpback whales. 9 species of seabirds and 4 species of landbirds nest; in addition, other species of birds come on the move. There are a number of reptiles, including geckos, hams, sea turtles and some species of poisonous sea snakes. 607 fish species (2010) have been identified. There are many species of corals, clams and snails.

Tuvalu has tropical sea climates down rainy season from November to April and drying season from May to October. Funafuti has an average temperature of 28.9 o C in January and 27.2 o C in July as well as an annual rainfall of 4000 millimeters. January is the driest month. June-August is the driest month. The weather phenomenon of El Niño increases the frequency of cyclones, which hit the country most recently in 2015, and tropical storms, while La Niña increases the effects of drought.

People and society

Oceania Median Age

Ethnic Polynesians make up 96 percent and Micronesians 4 percent of the population, which has more than doubled since 1980. 59.7 percent of the population is urban (2015) and more than half live in Funafuti.

Life expectancy at birth is 68.41 years for women and 64.01 years for men (2015).

98.4 percent of the population are Congregationalist Protestants (Church of Tuvalu), 1.4 percent are Seventh-day Adventists, while Baha’i has 1 percent support.

Official languages are bilingual and English. Some also speak Samoan and I-Kiribati (part of the island of Nui).

26.3 percent of the population lives below the poverty line (2010).

State and politics

Tuvalu is a parliamentary-democratic constitutional monarchy and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Head of State Queen Elizabeth 2. is represented by a general governor who must be a dual citizen. The executive is with the prime minister and the government. Up to 4 ministers are appointed by the Governor-General on a proposal from the Prime Minister. The Parliament, ‘Palamene o Tuvalu’, has 15 members elected in general elections for 4 years, but can be dissolved before elections. There are no political parties.

There are elected councils of 6 members as well as some ex officio members on the 9 atolls, who have limited self-government.

Tuvalu does not have its own defense; Australia’s security is safeguarded by Australia.

Tuvalu is a member of the UN and some of the UN’s special organizations, Commonwealth of Nations, Pacific Islands Forum and the Cotonou Agreement.


The first inhabitants probably came from the north 2000-3000 years ago. Tuvalu was discovered by Spaniard Álvaro de Mendaña in 1568, but he did not go ashore. British captain Arent Schuyler de Peyster sailed through southern Tuvalu with the ship ‘Rebecca’ in 1819 and named the islands Ellice Islands after Edward Ellice, the ship’s owner. Slave traders from Peru, in 1862-64, captured more than 400 people at Funafuti and Nukulaelae; no one returned.

In 1865, began missionaries from Samoa evangelism in Tuvalu (in the 1920s, the entire population to Christianity). European traders introduced diseases, including measles; the population sank from about 20,000 in 1850 to about 3,000 in 1875. The British ruled the islands from 1877 and became part of the Protectorate Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony in 1892. The Protectorate became a colony in 1915. The archipelago was outside the combat zones during World War II.

In 1974, the people of the Ellice Islands voted to separate the Gilbert Islands, and the following year, the Ellice Islands became the British colony of Tuvalu. In 1978, Tuvalu became an independent monarchy within the Commonwealth. In 1983, the country’s fishing zone was expanded to 1.3 million square kilometers. In 1989, the United Nations Environment Program warned that Tuvalu is one of 5 island groups particularly threatened by sea level rise. In 2000, Tuvalu joined the UN.

Economy and business

Tuvalu has few natural resources other than fish. Agriculture is centered on growing coconut trees, partly for export, screw palms, taro, papaya, breadfruit and bananas. Pigs, chickens and goats are the most important livestock. Government revenue comes from the sale of fishing licenses and leasing of the country’s electronic nationality designation (domain name).tv and from the Tuvalu Trust Fund (TTF) investment fund. Tuvalu also has revenue from the country’s ship register and sale of stamps.

The industry is little developed; production of copra for export, fish processing and braided crafts as the most important. Because the country’s location is so isolated, tourism is insignificant; it is mostly focused on ecotourism. The services sector accounts for 70 percent of state revenues (2012).

About 15 percent of male laborers work abroad; Many of them send money to the family.

Knowledge and culture

The schooling is free and compulsory for children aged 6-15. All the islands have elementary school; there are two on the island of Vaitupu. It is a 2-year high school. There is a maritime and a technical school as well as a department of the University of South Pacific. Other education is provided with scholarships in Fiji or other countries.

The authorities publish an official newspaper in Tuvalu and English every 14 days. There is 1 state radio station, Radio Tuvalu, which broadcasts in Tuvalu and English, but no separate television station; some foreign television broadcasts are taken via satellite.

The Bible was translated into Tuvalu in 1987. Afaese Manoa (1942-) wrote text and music for the national anthem, and is the country’s best-known author.

The most important art forms are designs of clothes, bracelets and traditional crafts such as fan and rug decoration.

Popular sports include ‘kilikiti’ (Samoan cricket), ‘ano’ (a local form of volleyball) and football.