Chapter 12: Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands The Region (Oceania)

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Chapter 12:
Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands

The Region (Oceania)

Australia and New Zealand

  • Western cultures and economy were successfully transplanted.

  • Located in Pacific near Asia, but very western compared to the rest of Pacific Islands

  • Same attributes as Europe

  • Healthy

  • Wealthy

  • Well Educated


  • Smallest Continent

  • 6th Largest country

  • Population 21 million

  • Texas has 25 million

Selected Cities & Population Distribution of Australia & New Zealand

Australia: Land

  • About the size of the Lower 48

  • Divided into five regions based on topography and rainfall

  • Humid Highlands

  • Southern Coast

  • Tropical Savanna

  • Semi-arid Steppe

  • Arid Interior

Australia’s Climate

Humid Highlands

  • 400 to 600 mile wide band along east coast and Tasmania

  • Two natural regions

  • Includes Marine west coast climate (like Seattle )

  • Includes Humid Subtropical (like Houston)

  • Most population industry and agriculture

Southern Coast

  • Eastern portion of southern coast (Mediterranean)

  • 2nd largest population concentration

  • Cities of Perth and Adelaide

  • Still sparsely populated

Tropical Savanna

  • Located along northern fringe

  • Dominated by monsoon climate

  • 3-4 months rain

  • 8-9 months drought

  • Severely limits agriculture

  • Sparsely populated

  • Mining and Livestock Grazing


  • Semi-arid grassland

  • Transition between desert and humid coast

  • Wide band encircling arid interior desert

  • Covers about 1/3 of Australia

  • Sparsely populated

  • Use limited by lack of rainfall

  • Livestock grazing

Arid Interior

  • Desert

  • Makes up about 1/3 of Australia

  • Has never been developed for any agricultural use

  • High plateau extends to west coast

Australia’s Climate

Land Use in Australia/Agricultural Challenges

  • Shortage of arable land (10%)

  • Most land requires irrigation for farming.

  • 5% used for food crops

  • 40% of country has ranching as its major economic use

Settlement and Population Growth

  • Until 1788—Inhabited by aborigines

  • Aborigines-dark skinned native people; hunter gatherers

  • Numbered up to 1 million

  • 300 distinct “nations”

  • 1770—Captain James Cook sails by eastern shore.

  • 1778—1850 used as British penal colony

  • Approximately 160,000 prisoners sent

  • Free colonists also went

Settlement and Population Growth

  • Gold rush of 1850s brought many new immigrants

  • 1901 six Australian colonies federated into commonwealth of Australia with Canberra as capital

History of Racial Policy

  • Immigration encouraged by Britain through land grants.

  • White Australia policy

  • Recognized vulnerability of white population due to proximity to Asia

  • Restricted Immigration Policy—Official term

  • Strong preference for people of British origin

  • Exclusion of non-whites

  • After WWII, amended to allow other European and Anglo-American settlers as long as they were white

  • Quietly shelved in 1970s

  • New immigration policy focuses on economic and social skills.

  • Now a considerable Asian influx (8% of pop)

Australian Immigration Trends

Plight of Aborigines

  • 450,000 or 2% of population

  • Heavily concentrated in Northern Territory

  • Movement now to big cities

  • Bottom of socioeconomic ladder

  • Shorter lifespan

  • Much higher unemployment and incarceration rates

  • Government has not apologized for the “stolen generation”.

  • Aboriginal art has caught on as an economic development potential.

An Urbanized Society

  • 40% live in Sydney and Melbourne

  • Heavy emphasis on industrialization since WWII

  • All five major cities are seaports.

  • All major cities are capitals of the five mainland states of the Commonwealth.

  • 85% urban population

The Bases of Australia’s Economy

  • High standard of living

  • Well-developed and diversified export economy

  • Production of agricultural, mineral, and industrial goods

  • Agriculture

  • Sheep and cattle farming

  • Wheat farming

  • Sugarcane on Northern fringe

  • EU tariffs place some constraints on exports.

  • Manufacturing is a weaker link.


Export of primary of semi-processed primary goods

  • Manufacturing has shrunk to 14% of GDP

  • Service sector has grown to 50%

  • Tourism gained importance since 1980s

  • Hampered by isolation

Mineral Resources

  • World largest exporter of

  • Black coal, alumina, diamonds

  • 2nd largest exporter of

  • Iron ore, lead, aluminum, zinc

  • 3rd largest exporter of

  • Gold

  • Japan is Australia’s major market

Has some oil, but imports much

Rural Land Use and Mineral Resources of Australia and New Zealand

Interstate Commerce

  • Interstate commerce conducted by coastal steamers and roads vs. rail

  • Two national railroads

  • Indian-Pacific (E-W)

  • Sydney to Perth

  • Completed in Late 1960’s

  • Adelaide-Darwin (N-S)

  • Completed in 2004

Australia’s Exports & Major Trade Partners 2006–2007

Australia’s Imports & Major Trade Partners 2006–2007

New Zealand

  • Located 1,000 miles SE of Australia

  • Made up of two large islands and number of smaller islands

  • North Island

  • Smaller land area

  • 2/3 of population

  • South Island

  • ¾ island is mountains

  • Southern Alps

New Zealand Map

New Zealand Economy

  • Pastoral economy

  • Production of livestock and livestock products

  • One of the highest proportions of livestock (cattle and sheep) to human population

  • Heavy dependence on trade

  • Some coal, gold, natural gas, and iron ore—Much less than Australia

  • Extensive soil erosion


  • Kiwi – New Zealander

  • 3.8 million people

  • Most live in urban areas

  • Mostly European descent (80%)

  • Less than 3% Asian population

The Maori

  • Indigenous population

  • Polynesian group that have resided there for 1,000 years

  • Largest minority group at 14–15%

  • Still socioeconomically marginal

  • See films Once Were Warriors and Whale Rider.

New Zealand

  • Political Firsts

  • Welfare State

  • 1936 worlds first welfare state

  • Offered citizens full social security and medical benefits

  • Woman’s Rights

  • 1893 first country to give women the right to vote

  • Nuclear ban

  • Ban on nuclear weapons and power

  • U. S. Nuclear subs no longer permitted

The Pacific Islands

  • Known as Oceania

  • Only 10.5 million population

  • Scattered islands (30,000 total)

  • Regional groupings

  • Melanesia—Islands from northern perimeter of Australia eastward

  • Micronesia (small islands) —Groups of islands north of Melanesia

  • Polynesia (many islands)—Largest grouping

  • From Hawaii to New Zealand

  • New Zealand, however, has begun to establish its own distinctive character in spite of Maori heritage.

Pacific Island Region

The Pacific Islands

Political Structures of Pacific Islands

  • Twenty-three political entities

  • Four self-governing territories in free association with colonial rulers

  • Seven continuing dependencies of France

  • New Zealand

  • One US state (Hawaii)

  • Mosaic of political structures is the result of the region’s complex colonial history and postindependence struggles.


  • Adapting to global economy while being geographically distant

  • Isolation

  • Limited size and resources

  • Low levels of health and income

  • Social inequities

  • Weak governments

  • Uncertain national identities

Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands

  • Australia

  • New Zealand

  • The Pacific Islands

  • Islands and isolation

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