Key Difference – Polynesia vs Melanesia vs Micronesia
Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia refer to three distinct sub-regions of the Pacific region (Oceania) which have been divided based on their cultural significance. These three regions consist of a vast number of islands and are home to a variety of people. The key difference between the regions stems from the diversity of the people. Polynesia is home to a large number of people coming from different cultural backgrounds. In Polynesia, a number of languages are spoken as well. Comparatively, in Melanesia, the diversity and social structural grandeur is less. Micronesia, on the other hand, consists of a large number of small islands and is home to many indigenous people.
What is Polynesia?
Polynesia refers to the east central region of Oceania. This can be easily recognized due to the triangular shape that it creates. Polynesia includes many islands such as the Hawaiian Islands, Easter Island, New Zealand, Cook Islands, Samoan Islands, Marquesas Islands, Niue Island, Tonga, etc. The name Polynesia denotes many islands in Greek.
Historical records highlight that Polynesian people were sea migrates who navigated their way with the assistance of stars. The people in this region have quite large physiques and fine features. The social structure and political systems of the islands of Polynesia are very well developed. In the past, both men and women had clear cut duties to perform in daily life. For instance, while men were engaged in construction work such as building houses, women engaged in the preparation of food and household chores. The concept of community was given a significant position and people had to obey the rules of the society.
What is Melanesia?
New Guinea, Maluku Islands, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Fiji, Santa Cruz Islands, Norfolk Island are some examples of islands that belong to the Melanesia region. The word ‘mela’ in Greek denotes black and refers to the complexion of the people in the islands.
When focusing on the ancestry of the Melanesian people, African and aboriginal origins are clearly visible. The people in Melanesia speak Papuan or Austronesian languages. Although Melanesian cultures may not be as advanced and sophisticated as the Polynesian cultures, the artistic skills of Melanesians are considered to be truly unique. This can clearly be noticed in the variety of artistic traditions that have developed over the years.
What is Micronesia?
Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, the Marianas, Caroline Islands are some of the islands of Micronesia. Micronesia in Greek denotes small islands. Among the people of Micronesia, a large diversity is visible. The development of the Micronesian culture is considered as one of the last of the entire region. This can be regarded as a mixture of the culture of the other areas of Polynesia and Melanesia as well. The impacts of colonization can also be clearly noticed in the culture of Micronesians. There are many languages spoken in this region. Some of these languages are Trukic Ponapeic languages, Nauruan, Marshallese, Kosraean and Gilbertese.
What is the difference between Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia?
Definitions of Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia:
Polynesia: Polynesia is a subregion of the Pacific.
Melanesia: Melanesia is a subregion of the Pacific.
Micronesia: Micronesia is a subregion of the Pacific.
Characteristics of Polynesia Melanesia and Micronesia:
Polynesia: Hawaiian Islands, Easter Island, New Zealand, Cook Islands, Samoan Islands, Marquesas Islands, Niue Island, Tonga are some examples.
Melanesia: New Guinea, Maluku Islands, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Fiji, Santa Cruz Islands, Norfolk Island are some examples.
Micronesia: Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, the Marianas, Caroline Islands are some examples.
Polynesia: The name Polynesia denotes many islands in Greek.
Melanesia: The word ‘mela’ in Greek denotes black and refers to the complexion of the people in the islands.
Micronesia: Micronesia in Greek denotes small islands.
1. “Pacific Culture Areas” by User:Kahuroa Map information based on Vaka Moana: Voyages of the Ancestors – the discovery and settlement of the Pacific, ed K.R. Howe, 2008, p57.. [Public Domain] via Commons
2. “Aranuka locals” by Photo taken by Government of Kiribati employee in the course of their work – Government of Kiribati. [CC BY 3.0] via Commons