Melanesia mĕlənēˈzhə, –shə [key], one of the three main divisions of Oceania, in the SW Pacific Ocean, NE of Australia and S of the equator. Melanesia includes the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, the Bismarck Archipelago, the Admiralty Islands, and Fiji. New Guinea is sometimes included in Melanesia. The Melanesians are largely of Australoid stock; they speak Malayo-Polynesian languages. The Melanesian Spearhead Group is an international organization whose members consists of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu as well as New Caledonia's Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front. Indonesia is an associate member. It began in 1986 as an informal grouping to promote common regional interests, led to a trade agreement, and was formally established in 2007.

See study by H. C. Brookfield and D. Hart (1971).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Pacific Islands Political Geography