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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 64

Geographical Description

Geographical Description.

By the Pacific is meant the central portion of the Pacific Ocean, including all those groups of islands lying within 30° north and south of the equator, and stretching eastward from the Pelew Islands to Easter Island. This immense area, commonly called Polynesia, is divided by the equator into the North and South Pacific, which division may be again best divided in Eastern, Central, and Western Polynesia. The names of the principal groups of islands contained within these divisions, together with their population, area, etc., etc., will be found in Appendix A. *

I include New Guinea in Polynesia, although it is doubtful to which of three divisions it should belong—Malaysia, Australasia, or Polynesia.

Few persons are much acquainted with this portion of the Pacific Ocean or its extent. It is only when we are led to consider the present or future welfare of the islands which it contains that we find ourselves dealing with so vast an area of the earth's surface—something like 20,000,000 square miles. The importance of this fact, it is necessary to remember, for the water which separates the various groups of islands contains not only many valuable articles of commerce, but, at the same time, is so much a naturally prepared highway for future inter-insular commerce.

* Melanesia and Micronesia are somewhat indefinite titles given to certain islands inhabited by the Papuan, or black, races. Micronesia principally comprises the Gilbert, Marshall, and Caroline Islands, amongst which, however, many pure Polynesians are found. Melanesia is simply Western Polynesia.

The Pacific Ocean contains a superficial area of 70,000,000 square miles.