Australia & Oceania from 1200-present

Aboriginal Australia & Polynesian Islands

Key Features of Aboriginal Australia:

  • Traded among each other, sometimes with New Guinea

  • Religion was based on local geographical features → Didn't diffuse beyond aboriginal society

Key Features of Polynesian Islands:​

  • Built large agriculture-based societies

  • Inter-island trade was common, some inter-married between islands

  • Cultivated taro, yams, sweet potatoes

  • Nan Madol was a settlement in Sandeleur Dynasty, looks very similar to Great Zimbabwe

  • Specialized labor was common (agriculture, fishing, crafts), government would take agricultural surpluses

  • Some kingdoms emerged as local chiefs would launch raids to other islands, but not as large as rest of the world

  • Religion involved war god & agriculture god

    • Priests were intermediaries between ​people & god

    • Marae were houses of worship


Involvement of Australia & Oceania in European Exploration & Imperialism of 1450-1750

  • James Cook landed in Cook Islands, Tahiti, Polynesia, and many Pacific Islands in late 1700s

  • Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the world & sailed to Hawaii & other Pacific Islands

  • Manila Galleons (Spanish container ships from Philippines to Mexico) often landed in Pacific islands

    • Sometimes ventured to Polynesia, Hawaii, etc.​

European Imperialism in the Pacific

  • James Cook landed in Botany Bay, Australia (1770)
    • Initially became penal colony (convicted criminals came here)
    • Later, more people came here as gold was discovered
    • Believed Australia belonged to no one since Aboriginal people were nomadic, which is why British colonized it
  • British signed Treaty of Waitangi (1840) with Maori of New Zealand
    • Maori believed it would protect them
    • It actually meant that British would colonize them
  • France, Germany, and Britain colonized many Pacific Islands
    • France got Marquesas, Tahiti, New Caledonia
    • Britain made Fiji a crown colony in 1874
    • Germany got Marshall Islands
    • Many islands were used for sugar plantations or other raw materials
    • Only Tonga remained independent but still had some protection from British

Role of Pacific in World War 2

  • During WW2, Japan conquered many Pacific Islands

    • Japan took over Guam, Wake Island, Marianas, etc.​

  • US later took over Japanese islands in WW2

    • US stopped Japanese invasion of Midway Island

    • US took over Mariana Islands, Guam, etc.