Welcome to Australasia
Australasia brings to mind a number of different images, and perhaps even some confusion.
Is the continent Australia or Australasia and where does it begin and end? While
those questions may forever be up for debate, the people and diversity of this part
of the world is not. The continent boasts the countries of Australia and New Zealand,
which have cultures at least partially rooted in Europe, but for most of these countries,
the culture remains with their histories and the seas.
Despite the differences in culture from country to country, all the people of Australasia
share similarities with Europe. The Europeans settled many of these lands, encouraged
the settlement of others, and influenced the culture in still others. In Australia
and New Zealand, the population is primarily ethnic European today, in a country
life Fiji many Indians call the islands home due to European-encouraged settlement,
and in still others the greatest remnant of European influence came in a change
of religion as most of the people today are Christian.
While European-influenced culture dominates much of Australia and New Zealand, as
well as certain parts of other Australasian cultures (like religion), for most
of the region, the culture is rooted in the past and the seas. Many of the Australian
indigenous people maintain aspects of their culture, the Maori of New Zealand do
the same. On the many other islands, the Polynesians, Melanesians, and Micronesians
cling to aspects of their past as well.
Due to the seas, life continues to revolve around the oceans for most cultures and
for many people the center of life remains with family and community. Foods and
transportation are based on the waters and life is often based on what is readily
available. Despite this seemingly isolated state, the people of Australasia share
many commonalities. The Polynesians share foods, customs, and traditions from the
Maori in New Zealand to the Hawai'ians in Hawai'i just as the Micronesians
share similarities as do the Melanesians.
Some islands and some nations have adopted more European customs than others and
the diversity across Australasia remains fairly high. From the modern movements
in Australian cities and beach resorts in Fiji to isolated communities of times
past in Tonga and indigenous religions of Papua New Guinea, Australasia remains
diverse in many ways.