Modern Pacific Island Populations & Territories • Maps &Tables

The broadest definition of the Pacific Islands encompasses those twenty–three island states and territories of the Pacific Ocean, including Micronesia (mostly north of the equator) and Papua New Guinea, but excluding the European populations of Hawaii (Hawai‘i) and New Zealand (Aotearoa). West Papua, or Irian Jaya, has a substantial Melanesian number of people, but population figures for the indigenous inhabitants are not available on that province of Indonesia, which was siezed in 1960 and in which there is a lively resistance movement.

The eight "Pacific Island Countries" or "PICs" are nominally independent, and they comprise some of the larger states in area and population, excluding the special case of Papua New Guinea. These eight Pacific Island Countries are Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. At its most restricted, these countries formed the basis of the South Pacific Forum, called today, simply, The Forum.

The South Pacific Commission, renamed "Secretariat of the Pacific Community" to keep the "SPC" acronym on its fiftieth anniversary in 1998, comprises states and territories of various political arrangements. This larger grouping comprises 23 entities, the latter being a USA term:

Table 1 • Current Pacific Island Populations, Areas & Densities

Country, State or Territory

Population in 1996

Land Area (km2)

EEZ

(000s km2)

Population Density (land)

American Samoa

58,900

200

390

234

Cook Islands

19,900

237

1,830

79

Easter Island (Rapanui)a

2,500

166

 

15

Federated States of Micronesia

109,200

701

2,978

149

Fiji

800,500

18,272

1,290

39

French Polynesia

220,000

3,521

5,030

54

Guam

153,700

541

218

246

Kiribati

78,400

811

3,550

89

Marshall Islands

57,400

181

2,131

240

Nauru

11,200

21

320

472

New Caledonia (Kanaky)

196,800

19,103

1,740

9

Niue

2,300

259

390

9

Northern Mariana Islands

62,700

471

1,823

92

Palau (Belau)

17,700

488

629

31

Papua New Guinea

4,141,800

462,243

3,120

8

Pitcairn

47

5

800

11

Samoa (formerly "Western Samoa")

165,100

2,935

120

55

Solomon Islands

395,200

28,530

1,340

10

Tokelau

1,500

10

290

158

Tonga

90,000

747

700

127

Tuvalu

9,600

26

900

348

Vanuatu

173,900

12,190

680

12

Wallis & Futuna

14,800

255

300

54

South Pacific

6,783,147

551,913

30,569

12

South Pacific Excluding Papua New Guinea

2,641,347

89,670

27,443

28

Sources:

  • Pacific Islands Populations Data Sheet 1996, Noumea, Population/Demography Programme, South Pacific Commission.

    a. Rapanui (Easter Island) figures are based upon genealogical fieldwork of Grant McCall, carried out in 1985–1986 and projected at an approximate growth of 50 persons per year.

  • These 23 states and territories demonstrate a wide spectrum of political status, from Rapanui (Easter Island), which is an integral part of the Chilean state, to independent states. Along the way, there are special statutes for the French territories which provide them with a kind of home rule, to the situation of the Cook Islands and Niue, whose citizens carry New Zealand passports, but who have elected assemblies for internal and, occasionally, foreign affairs.

    Micronesia, except for Kiribati and Nauru, is within the sphere of influence of the United States of America and persons there have open access to their metropolitan power, though their political status exhibits considerable variation, from the total dependency of Guam (a possession) to the status of "Autonomous Self-Governing" countries.

     

     

     

    Map 1 • North and South Pacific Ocean and Rim


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