history of the islands from prehistoric times to the end of colonial rule in the period after World War II. The prehistory of the Pacific Islands, the period before written materials begin, extends back at least 33,000 years, a date provided in 1985 by sites in the Bismarck Archipelago. It is probable that human settlement significantly antedates the limit of radiocarbon determination of 40,000 years. Migration extended into the 2nd millennium AD and resulted in the populating of every habitable island. Since the arrival of Europeans in the early 16th century, the prehistoric world has been transformed to varying extents, at first by contact with passing explorers and then, from the late 18th century, by the influence of more permanent visitors: castaways, beachcombers, missionaries, and traders. During the 19th and 20th centuries settlers, labourers and other immigrant communities (predominantly Indian and Chinese), and European administrators arrived. Missionaries, settlers, and immigrants still make up significant segments of the population on the islands today, even though European governments, with the exception of the French, have entirely withdrawn from the region. Both the prehistorical and historical periods present problems in the evidence of human activity. Archaeology has provided dates for the earliest settlement; however, until more sites are uncovered, sampling error makes certainty extremely difficult. Linguistics, using a chronology of sound changes, traces the time and place of dispersion of language groups; but a considerable number of the languages of Oceania are as yet unstudied and unclassified. Genetics, making use of the distribution of leukocyte antigens in present blood-group samples, has been able to establish, between contemporary human groups, connections that reveal past migrations. Unfortunately, systematic sampling has not yet been carried out. The period of Oceanic history for which documentary evidence is available also presents difficulties. The documents are chiefly of European origin and are, therefore, the products of people who may not accurately have recorded a culture different from their owna culture they perceived and understood only imperfectly. This distortion can be corrected to some extent by using the findings of social anthropology and the oral traditions of the Pacific island people, but these sources are difficult because, by definition, they are contemporary. They may describe the past inaccurately because they serve contemporary purposes; they do not record the past for its own sake. But the main historiographic problem of Oceania is its diversity. Some 10,000 islands scattered across 500,000 square miles of ocean, a variety of cultures, hundreds of mutually unintelligible languages, and diverse historical experiences make it hard to generalize. Additional reading The best general history of the precolonial Pacific is K.R. Howe, Where the Waves Fall: A New South Sea Island History from First Settlement to Colonial Rule (1984). For early periods, see John Terrell, Prehistory in the Pacific Islands: A Study of Variation in Language, Customs, and Human Biology (1986); Patrick Vinton Kirch (ed.), Island Societies: Archaeological Approaches to Evolution and Transformation (1986); Peter Bellwood, Man's Conquest of the Pacific: The Prehistory of Southeast Asia and Oceania (1978), and The Polynesians: Prehistory of an Island People, rev. ed. (1987); Janet Davidson, The Prehistory of New Zealand (1984); and M.P.K. Sorrenson, Maori Origins and Migrations: The Genesis of Some Pakeha Myths and Legends (1979). Robert D. Craig and Frank P. King (eds.), Historical Dictionary of Oceania (1981), is a comprehensive reference source. For current writings, see Journal of Pacific History (semiannual, Australia).The following histories focus on special topics: Francis X. Hezel, The First Taint of Civilization: A History of the Caroline and Marshall Islands in Pre-Colonial Days, 15211885 (1983); John Garrett, To Live Among the Stars: Christian Origins in Oceania (1982); and F.J. West, Political Advancement in the South Pacific: A Comparative Study of Colonial Practice in Fiji, Tahiti, and American Samoa (1961, reprinted 1984). Biographies that date from European contact can be found in J.W. Davidson and Deryck Scarr (eds.), Pacific Islands Portraits (1970); and Deryck Scarr (ed.), More Pacific Islands Portraits (1978).The development of Pacific trade and the establishment of exploitative industries are discussed in Dorothy Shineberg, They Came for Sandalwood (1967), the first full-length study of trade in the Pacific; H.E. Maude, Of Islands and Men: Studies in Pacific History (1968); O.H.K. Spate, The Spanish Lake (1979), Monopolists and Freebooters (1983), and Paradise Found and Lost (1989); Maslyn Williams and Barrie Macdonald, The Phosphateers: A History of the British Phosphate Commissioners and the Christmas Island Phosphate Commission (1985); K. Buckley and K. Klugman, The History of Burns Philp: The Australian Company in the South Pacific (1981); Peter Corris, Passage, Port, and Plantation: A History of Solomon Islands Labour Migration, 18701914 (1973); and Michael Moynagh, Brown or White?: A History of the Fiji Sugar Industry, 18731973 (1981).Politics is studied in Peter Larmour and Ropate Qalo (eds.), Decentralization in the South Pacific: Local, Provincial, and State Government in Twenty Countries (1985); Uentabo Fakaofo Neemia, Cooperation and Conflict: Costs, Benefits, and National Interests in Pacific Regional Cooperation (1986), discussing national self-realization; Leonard Mason and Patricia Hereniko (eds.), In Search of a Home (1987), reports by island authors on problems of immigrants in urban centres; Haruhiro Fukui (ed.), Political Parties of Asia and the Pacific, 2 vol. (1985), an encyclopaedic source; Frank P. King (ed.), Oceania and Beyond: Essays on the Pacific Since 1945 (1976); and Dirk Anthony Ballendorf and Frank P. King (eds.), Oceania Today: Towards New Directions and Political Self-Actualization (1980). See also Stewart Firth, Nuclear Playground (1987). The economy Agriculture and natural resources Coconut products, including copra, from which oil is extracted, form the principal export from most islands. Agricultural production depends as much on native family enterprise as it does on plantation systems, which predominate in the larger islands. Perishable fruits, such as pineapples, bananas, and citrus fruits, require markets close at hand unless they are locally processed or can be assured of prompt delivery to overseas destinations. Sugar, exported mainly from Hawaii and Fiji, requires careful management, costly machinery, and specialized labour. Experiments in growing coffee, cacao, spices, and other cash crops have been undertaken to stimulate diversification and to minimize the hazards of a one-crop economy. Timber and wood by-products are processed commercially on some islands. Marine resources, although almost unlimited, require skilled labour and capital facilities for commercial exploitation. Deep-sea fishing, mostly for tuna, is conducted throughout the Pacific, mainly by Korean, Taiwanese, Japanese, and American fishing fleets. Canneries employing islanders are operated in American Samoa, Fiji, and Solomon Islands. Local cooperatives have been successful in marketing fresh fish. Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Irian Jaya (a province of Indonesia comprising the western half of the island of New Guinea and its offshore islands), and Solomon Islands have profited from either gold or gold and copper discoveries, and New Caledonia is rich in nickel ores. Oil reserves and their exploitation are restricted to Irian Jaya, although prospecting in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands is encouraging. Natural phosphates on Nauru continue to be mined, but those on Banaba were depleted in 1979. In 1979 the South Pacific Forum, an organization of independent and self-governing countries, established the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) to facilitate mutual cooperation and assistance in fisheries and policing the 200-nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of each member state. This group of 16 entities in 1987 concluded a multilateral treaty with the United States, whereby the United States agreed to pay $60,000,000 in license fees and assistance to the fishing industry in return for permission for American fishing fleets to operate in the EEZs of the FFA member states. The latter are free to negotiate further agreements with other nations on the Pacific Rim. Trade Pacific islanders, as producers of agricultural, marine, and mineral commodities, face problems of market demand, labour supply, management skills, and transport that restrict them to an insignificant role in world export trade. Neither do the small, scattered populations present an attractive consumer market to overseas entrepreneurs. The combination of limited exportable products, heavy dependency on food imports, high cost of fuel imports, and overreliance on foreign aid makes each island state's economy extremely vulnerable. More than half of the exports from the Pacific Islands are sent to Japan, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and members of the European Economic Community (EEC). Imports are received mainly from the United States, Australia, New Zealand, France, Japan, and Singapore. Almost all island groups import far more, in dollar amounts, than they export. External financial aid for economic development is received primarily from Australia, New Zealand, the United States (for Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. interests in Micronesia), France (for New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna, and French Polynesia), and from international organizations (the Asian Development Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, and the EEC). Most grants-in-aid are made on a bilateral basis; few are negotiated on a multilateral or regional basis. Most employment opportunities for islanders are in government service agencies, except where mining or agricultural production contributes significantly to national income. In the 1970s tourism opened up new employment opportunities and sources of revenue. By 1980 Guam, the Northern Marianas, Fiji, French Polynesia, and New Caledonia, among others, had followed Hawaii's earlier lead in attracting visitors by air and sea to enjoy the tropical scenery, handicrafts, and friendly hospitality of the Pacific Islands. Australians made up the largest group of tourists traveling to destinations south of the Equator, while Japanese made up the majority of vacationers to the north. However, the increasing ability of international airlines to bypass midway island stops, the devastation of hotel facilities by more frequent hurricanes, the fluctuating currency values in Pacific Rim countries, and political disorders in Fiji and New Caledonia slowed the growth of the tourist industry. In some cases island labour was mostly restricted to the menial services, and management posts and industry profits were more often enjoyed by expatriate personnel and foreign-based corporations. The degree of government and private involvement and investment in tourist accommodations and entertainment varied with each island state. Some island populations, indeed, were more concerned with safeguarding their traditional cultures than deriving income from their commercialization. The land The island ecosystem To know what it is like to live on a Pacific island, the intermixture of physical and biological characteristics of the particular island must be considered. Each of the myriad ecological systems in the Pacific is a unique complex of living organisms and their nonliving environment. Each is a functional system of interacting components that tends toward an equilibrium that is never quite achieved. The limited size of most Pacific islands makes it probable that almost any change, whether by human action or by some natural agency, will have repercussions elsewhere within the ecosystem. The landform, climate, soils, vegetation, and animal life all are elements to which people who live on an island must relate, for they, too, occupy a niche in the total ecological scheme. The people Humans in the Pacific have had to adapt to island environments just as other species have done. The technologies and organizational systems introduced into the Pacific by migrants were established in habitats that varied from receptive to hostile. The earliest arrivals, as food-gathering peoples, probably provoked little disruption of the environment. Their successors, practiced in horticulture and skilled in sea transport, were more able to fashion and control local environmental conditions after their own customs. Later, Western practices, part of an advanced technology and civilization, threatened the balance of the inherently vulnerable island ecosystems. Aboriginal groupings Natives of the Pacific tend to identify themselves by their home island or their mother tongue, saying, for example, that they are from Nauru or that they speak Fijian. Occasionally, however, they may invoke another, and larger, identity, claiming to be Polynesian, Micronesian, or Melanesian. As a geographic designation this representation has value, but as a mark of racial, linguistic, or cultural affiliation it is apt to be misleading. While Melanesians appear to be more Australoid and Micronesians more Mongoloid, with Polynesians demonstrating characteristics of both physical types, a great deal of racial intermixture has taken place throughout the Pacific since the first immigrants arrived in the southwestern islands. The linguistic pattern is also complex. Some valid generalizations about cultural practices and institutions in the three regions may nevertheless be made, although it must be remembered that overlap among the traditionally ascribed areas is common and that there are exceptions to every statement.
PACIFIC ISLANDS, HISTORY OF
Meaning of PACIFIC ISLANDS, HISTORY OF in English
Britannica English vocabulary. Английский словарь Британика. 2012