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Articles in Australia and Pacific

The Culture of Queensland and the Desire to Divide the State

By Martin W. Lewis | March 22, 2012 | 3 Comments

Queensland has a reputation of being the most conservative state in Australia, especially in regard to social and racial issues. As such, it has been deemed Australia’s “Deep North,” in reference to the “Deep South” of the United States. Such attitudes, however, have changed significantly in recent years. A study from the 1990s concluded that there were no longer any …

Jervis Bay: Australia’s Hidden Territory

By Martin W. Lewis | March 9, 2012 | 3 Comments

I had always thought that Australia proper* contained six states (Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania) and two territories (the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory [ACT] around Canberra). In actuality, it contains three territories. Missing from the standard list is the Jervis Bay Territory, a small coastal peninsula (67 km2 [26 sq mi]) located 150 km (93 mi) …

More Flooding in Australia

By Martin W. Lewis | March 5, 2012 |

Interior Australia is noted for its extreme climatic oscillations, especially in regard to precipitation. If anything, the change from wet to dry periods seems to be getting more extreme.

The Pilbara to Populate?

By Martin W. Lewis | February 19, 2012 | 6 Comments
Australia Map, Highlighting the Pilbara

The Pilbara is a vast, sparsely settled region in northwestern Australia noted for its gargantuan reserves of iron-ore and other minerals. Covering 193,823 sq mi (502,000 km2), the Pilbara is substantially larger than California, yet it has fewer than 50,000 permanent inhabitants.

Cultural Hybridity in New Zealand

By Martin W. Lewis | February 10, 2012 |

A newly released study in New Zealand argues that many English-speaking immigrants to the country are held back by their inability to comprehend the “small talk” that typically takes places in New Zealand workplaces.

La Niña Floods and Droughts

By Martin W. Lewis | February 5, 2012 |

La Nina conditions have recently brought unusual weather conditions to much of the world. In the Southern Hemisphere, large areas of Australia have been hit by torrential rain…

Apologies for Cannibalism on Fiji

By Martin W. Lewis | July 2, 2010 | One Comment

As mentioned the other day, Melanesia has long had a negative reputation in the Western cultural imagination, quite in contrast to its neighboring Pacific region of Polynesia. In the 1800s and early 1900s, disparagement of Melanesia typically focused on cultural practices deemed savage, especially cannibalism. Cannibalism was noted in some parts of Polynesia, particularly Samoa

Territorial Disputes and Cultural Accommodations in Vanuatu

By Martin W. Lewis | June 30, 2010 | 2 Comments

Melanesia, as we have seen, is culturally varied. Global linguistic diversity probably reaches its extreme in the highlands of New Guinea, but Vanuatu contends for the title. Its 243,000 people speak 113 indigenous languages. According to the Wikipedia, its “density of languages, per capita, is the highest of any nation in the world, with an

Cultural Disparity and Political Solidarity in the Melanesian Island World

By Martin W. Lewis | June 28, 2010 |

The islands of the southwestern Pacific are conventionally divided into Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia, based on the writings of the French explorer Jules Dumont d’Urville from the 1830s. The etymology is Greek, with the base word nesos — hence “nesia” — meaning island, while “mela-,” micro-,” and “poly-” denote black, small, and many

Ethnic Strife and Cultural Solidarity in Melanesia

By Martin W. Lewis | June 24, 2010 | One Comment

In trying to separate from Papua New Guinea, the people of Bougainville have sought full independence rather than union with Solomon Islands,* the country that encompasses the rest of the archipelago in which their island is located. The sentiment is not difficult to understand; Solomon Islands is a poor and unstable state beset with

Election Controversies and Ethnic Complexities on the Not-So-Tiny Island of Bougainville

By Martin W. Lewis | June 23, 2010 |

In June 2010, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea (PNG) voted out three quarters of its parliamentary representatives along with its president. Whereas the outgoing leader was a former revolutionary committed to independence, the newly elected chief executive favors continuing ties with PNG. Most sources, however, do not see a loss of

Oil Theft and Insurgency on Bougainville, Papua New Guinea

By Martin W. Lewis | June 21, 2010 |

On June 18, 2010, Australian news announced that the government of Papua New Guinea had just seized a sizable tanker filled with allegedly stolen oil. Registered in the Marshall Islands, the Singapore-bound ship was carrying crude worth an estimated $A16.3 million ($14 million US). Its 20 crew members were arrested and charged with various

The Temporary Rebirth of Lake Eyre

By Martin W. Lewis | April 26, 2010 | 2 Comments

As the Southern Aral Sea dies, another massive lake on the opposite side of the world is being reborn, although its life expectancy is not long. When full, South Australia’s Lake Eyre is about the size of Cyprus. More often, Lake Eyre is a giant salt-flat pocked with briny pools. But Ayer’s drainage area is

Taiwan and the Pacific: Contracting for Recognition

By Martin W. Lewis | March 16, 2010 | One Comment

On March 15, 2010, a number of newspapers announced that Taiwanese President Ma Ying-Jeou would visit his country’s allies in the South Pacific: Nauru, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau, Tuvalu, and Solomon Islands. Such headlines were doubly wrong. The region specified is not exactly in the South Pacific, and the countries mentioned are not exactly

Christmas Island: Land Crabs and Detainees

By Martin W. Lewis | March 11, 2010 |

Christmas Island is 52-square-mile rainforest-covered limestone and basalt platform several hundred miles south of Java. Most of the island is a national park, sheltering a limited and highly distinctive native fauna. It is best noted for its eponymous red crab, a land dwelling crustacean than lives in rainforest burrows – in staggering numbers.

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