Portal:Oceania

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The Oceania Portal

Map of Oceania

Oceania is a geographical (often geopolitical) region consisting of numerous countries and territories—mostly islands—in the Pacific Ocean. The exact scope of Oceania is controversial, with varying interpretations including East Timor, Australia, and New Zealand.

The primary use of the term Oceania is to describe a continental region (like Europe or Africa) that lies between Asia and the Americas, with Australia as the major land mass. The name Oceania is used, rather than Australasia, because unlike the other continental groupings, it is the ocean rather than the continent that links the nations together. Oceania is the smallest continental grouping in land area and the second smallest, after Antarctica, in population.

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Palau boatyard on Malakal Island, Koror - August 1973.

The Republic of Palau is a borderless country in the Pacific Ocean, located some 500 km east of the Philippines. Having emerged from United Nations trusteeship (administered by the United States of America) in 1994, it is one of the world's youngest and least populated nations. It is sometimes referred to in English under its native name Belau.

Palau's most important islands are Angaur, Babeldaob, Koror, and Peleliu, which lie together within the same barrier reef. About two thirds of the population lives on Koror. The population is 20,303 (2005 est.). The capital is Koror, with the same name as the island.

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KPhotograph of Mau Piailug in 1999

Pius "Mau" Piailug (pronounced /ˈpəs ˈm pˈləɡ/; 1932 – July 12, 2010) was a Micronesian navigator from the Carolinian island of Satawal, best known as a teacher of traditional, non-instrument wayfinding methods for deep-sea voyaging. Mau's Carolinian navigation system—which relies on navigational clues using the sun and stars, winds and clouds, seas and swells, and birds and fish—was acquired through rote learning passed down through teachings in the oral tradition.

He earned the title of master navigator (palu) by the age of eighteen, around the time the first American missionaries arrived in Satawal. As he neared middle age, Mau grew concerned that the practice of navigation in Satawal would disappear as his people became acculturated to Western values. To preserve the navigational tradition for future generations, Mau shared his knowledge with the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS). With Mau's help, PVS created the Hōkūle‘a, a modern reconstruction of a double-hulled Hawaiian voyaging canoe to test lost navigational techniques. The successful, non-instrument sailing of Hōkūle‘a to Tahiti in 1976, proved the efficacy of Mau's navigational system to the world.

Later in life, Mau was respectfully known as a grandmaster navigator, and he was called "Papa Mau" by his friends with great reverence and affection. He received an honorary degree from the University of Hawaii, and he was honored by the Smithsonian Institution and the Bishop Museum for his contributions to maritime history.

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