The islands at the geographic extremes of Oceania are Bonin Islands, a politically integral part of Japan; Hawaii, a state of the United States; Clipperton Island, a possession of France; the Juan Fernández Islands, belonging to Chile; the Campbell Islands, belonging to New Zealand; and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, belonging to Australia. Oceania has a diverse mix of economies from the highly developed and globally competitive financial market of Australia and New Zealand, which rank high in quality of life and human development index, to the much less developed economies that belong to countries such as of Kiribati and Tuvalu, while also including medium-sized economies of Pacific islands such as Palau, Fiji and Tonga. The largest and most populous country in Oceania is Australia, with Sydney being the largest city of both Oceania and Australia.
The first settlers of Australia, New Guinea, and the large islands just to the east arrived between 50,000 and 30,000 years ago. Oceania was first explored by Europeans from the 16th century onward. Portuguese navigators, between 1512 and 1526, reached the Tanimbar Islands, some of the Caroline Islands and west Papua New Guinea. On his first voyage in the 18th century, James Cook, who later arrived at the highly developed Hawaiian Islands, went to Tahiti and followed the east coast of Australia for the first time. The Pacific front saw major action during the Second World War, mainly between Allied powers the United States and Australia, and Axis power Japan.
The arrival of European settlers in subsequent centuries resulted in a significant alteration in the social and political landscape of Oceania. In more contemporary times there has been increasing discussion on national flags and a desire by some Oceanians to display their distinguishable and individualistic identity. The rock art of Australian Aborigines is the longest continuously practiced artistic tradition in the world. Puncak Jaya in Papua is often considered the highest peak in Oceania. Most Oceanian countries have a parliamentary representative democratic multi-party system, with tourism being a large source of income for the Pacific Islands nations.
The term was coined as Océanie circa 1812 by geographer Conrad Malte-Brun. The word Océanie is a French word derived from the Latin word oceanus, and this from the Greek word ὠκεανός (ōkeanós), ocean. Natives and inhabitants of this region are called Oceanians or Oceanicans. The term Oceania is used because, unlike the other continental groupings, it is the ocean that links the nations together.
Indigenous Australians are the original inhabitants of the Australian continent and nearby islands who migrated from Africa to Asia around 70,000 years ago and arrived in Australia around 50,000 years ago. They are believed to be among the earliest human migrations out of Africa. Although they likely migrated to Australia through Southeast Asia they are not demonstrably related to any known Asian or Polynesian population. There is evidence of genetic and linguistic interchange between Australians in the far north and the Austronesian peoples of modern-day New Guinea and the islands, but this may be the result of recent trade and intermarriage.