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Datos curiosos. Oceanía, el continente misterioso
Escrito por María C. Rodríguez    Miércoles, 09 de Febrero de 2011 19:33    Imprimir E-mail

El desplazamiento de Oceanía, muy alejado de las restantes masas continentales, ha condicionado gran parte los peculiares rasgos de su evolución, tanto física como social, histórica y humana. Su superficie, próxima a los nueve millones de kilómetros cuadrados (8, 945,724 Km2), se halla repartida entre la gran masa continental de Austria y Tasmania, que supone cerca del 87% de la extensión oceánica total, Nueva Zelanda (11% del total) y la multitud de islas forman los archipiélagos de Melanesia, Micronesia y Polinesia.

Melanesia, cuyo nombre hace referencia al color oscuro de sus habitantes (melas, negros), esta formado por un doble cordón de islas que se extienden desde Nueva Guinea hasta Nueva Caledonia; entre ellas destacan, además de las ya citadas, las de Almirantazgo, Salomón, Santa Cruz, Vanuatu (Nuevas Hébridas), Loyauté (Lealtad) y Viti (Fidji) Micronesia, por su parte, esta formada por numerosas islas pequeñas (de ahí su nombre), situadas al norte de Melanesia; en conjunto, abarcan una extensión total de unos 3,400 Km2 y en ellas se incluyen las integradas en los archipiélagos de las Marianas, Carolinas, Marshall, Naúru, Palau (Belau), Kiribati (Gilbert) y Tuvalu (Ellice). Por ultimo, Polinesia, que etimológicamente significa “tierra de muchas islas”, abarca una extensión aproximada de 26,000 Km2 y los principales archipiélagos que la componen son los de Hawai, que ocupa mas de la mitad de la extensión total, Samoa, Tonga, Cook, Espóradas, Sociedad (donde se halla Tahití), Tuamotu, Tubuai y las islas chilenas de Pascua y de sala Gómez.

 Historia: Los primeros pobladores de esta zona fueron seres humanos modernos procedentes del sureste de Asia. Fernando de Magallanes descubrió las Marianas y otras islas de Oceanía, antes de morir en las Filipinas. Poco después explotaron la región los portugueses: en 1525 descubrieron las Carolinas y al año siguiente Nueva Guinea. Los holandeses en 1642 recorrieron el litoral de Australia y descubrieron Tasmania, las islas Tonga, Fiji y Bismark. Entre tanto desde Acapulco (México) y Callao (Perú) partieron expediciones que hallaron numerosas islas del Pacífico. En el siglo XVIII, fueron los ingleses y los franceses los que exploraron la región. Entre 1764 y 1770 los ingleses recorrieron Taití, Samor, Solomón y Nuevas Hébridas. James Cook entre 1768 y 1779 llegó a las Islas de la Sociedad, Nueva Zelanda, Las Marquesas, Nuevas Hébridas y Hawaii. Los franceses exploraron las islas simultáneamente con los ingleses. Todos estos viajes determinaron el reparto de Oceanía entre Gran Bretaña, Francia y EE.UU.

Geografía: Ubicadas en su totalidad entre el océano Índico (al este de Australia) y el océano Pacifico, las tierras de Oceanía se hallan en su mayor parte comprendidas entre los trópicos y el ecuador, salvo el sur de Australia, Tasmania y Nueva Zelanda.

Sus limites septentrionales los establece la isla de midway; al este limita con la de Sala y Gómez; al sur con el archipiélago Macquarie, y al oeste, con la isla de Dirk Hartog. Desde el punto de vista de su división política, Oceanía este integrada por los siguientes países: Australia, Kiribati, islas Marshall, Estados Federados de Micronesia, Naúru, Nueva Zelanda, Palau, Papúa Nueva Guinea, Salomón, Samoa Occidental, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu y Viti. Otros conjuntos insulares como los de de la Polinesia francesa, Nueva Caledonia, Guam o las Marianas septentrionales son estados asociados o territorios dependientes de otros países (Australia, Nueva Zelanda, Estados Unidos, Francia y Gran Bretaña).

 Demografía: La gran extensión del continente no guarda relación con la población. Oceanía es la masa continental menos poblada del mundo, con la única excepción de las regiones polares. Sus escasos treinta millones de habitantes se reparten de forma desigual y determinan una densidad extremadamente baja, de apenas tres habitantes por kilómetro cuadrado.

La demografía australiana no constituye una excepción. Probablemente debido a lo inhóspito de su naturaleza, a la escasa población aborigen y a su tardía colonización, entre otras causas, aloja a muy pocos habitantes, en comparación con su extensión, y presenta una densidad media de dos habitantes por kilómetro cuadrado. La mayor parte de la población (cerca del 60%) se concentra en las zonas de climas templados, en torno a las grandes urbes como Newcastle, Geelong, Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth y Adelaida. Los aborígenes se concentran sobre todo en las regiones norte y los mestizos, en Queensland y Nueva Gales.

Lenguas: La lengua más hablada es el inglés, seguido del francés, y en algunas islas principalmente pertenecientes a la soberanía chilena se habla el español como en la Isla Sala y Gómez, e Isla de Pascua. Las lenguas indígenas se han conservado en sus diferentes y especialmente bonitos dialectos.

Religión: Predomina el protestantismo, seguido del catolicismo, como también los ritos y creencias de los indígenas.

 
María C. Rodríguez
 


 


 

 

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