New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Nauru, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Western Samoa, Vanuatu, and Tonga
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of the Region
The numerous islands in the Pacific were inhabited by a diverse group of peoples thought to have arrived from Asia over the course of thousands of years. These natives did not engage in much trade as most were self-sufficient and traded only for luxuries. The Europeans explored these islands in the 1600¡¯s, the most important being the British explorer James Cook who also died in the region. Several European nations, along with the U.S. colonized the area and used the islands as waypoints for trade with Asian nations and cross-pacific trade. After WWI, Japan took over Germany¡¯s holdings in the pacific, and used them in her campaign during WWII, then lost them to the U.S. when Japan was defeated at the end of the war. The islands were not central to the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, but they were used by some of the western powers for nuclear testing during this time period. Some of the countries in the region gained their independence from foreign powers, but others remain under the rule of outside nations, and are used as exporters of raw material. Most islands export to their former or current colonial powers in the form of agricultural crops and minerals, but have expanded somewhat to other local countries including Australia and New Zealand, and more recently Japan. Imports mainly consist of manufactured goods and fuels, as few of the islands have become industrialized, and none are globalized, limiting their trade with other nations and decreasing their profits.
This country has very little international presence simply because it is a territory of France. France supports and administrates activity here (and in the four provinces of New Caledonia), contributing more than 25% of the Gross Domestic Profit (GDP).
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea (PNG) has a government that is a combination of a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary government. As a developing country, PNG has secured much support in the form of loans from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to develop resources: the problem right now is that it¡¯s economy is still in an early stage and even though the country has many resources, building the infrastructure will be expensive. The goals set forth by the current Prime Minister, Michael Somare, is to increase investor confidence and allocate more money for future development.
Under US administration until 1978, Papau only recently gained admission as a country in 1993. It now has a constitutional government in free association with the United States. Basically, Palau¡¯s economy depends upon US tourism and hence a good political status with the US. Besides these interests, Palau does not have a significant international presence.
Federated States of Micronesia
This country is a constitutional government in free association with the United States. Because of it¡¯s lack of exploitable resources, the economy remains fragile; especially because of recent political history: The US has lowered it¡¯s backing to the country saying that it will only invest $1.3 billion over the next 15 years in Micronesia. Economists see that isolation and over-dependence on US aid make it¡¯s outlook bleak.
In 1986, the Marshall Islands attained independence under the Compact of Free Association placed by the UN. Since the island has little resources available, it¡¯s main source of survival is US support. There are talks to extend US support (which has donated $1 billion over the past years).
These set of islands, formerly known as the Gilbert Islands, renounced politically binding ties with the US in favor of more friendship type relations. Since most of the islands are small with little resources, the Island is still undergoing development and relies on ties with UK, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and China to provide about 50% to the GDP.
Tuvalu is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system; recently they began to debate turning into a republic.
As the world¡¯s smallest republic, Nauru joined the United Nations in 1999. Although they do have Phosphate exports, the exhausting resources have caused the closure of external consulates, privatization of agencies, and a decline in foreign investment into Nauru.
Although this is Parliamentary Democracy, it is almost in a state of anarchy as violence and instability recurs daily. Despite the huge amount of natural resources and potential for financiers in the Soloman islands, foreign investors have little confidence in it¡¯s market because of that anarchy.
Mostly, French Polynesia is seen as a military/tactical country by the French since the islands annexation. It has very little international presence except for use by the French.
Today, Fiji is considered a republic. Fiji is not significantly active internationally in the political world, although it is currently receiving funding from the IMF (and is a member thereof).
The political system in Samoa is run by a native chief (a constitutional monarchy). Many foreign investors are interested in the island as investment because of the flexibility in the labor market, fiscal government discipline, and a growing tourist sector. The $15 billion dollar export economy is made up of things like fish, coconut oil and cream, copra, taro, automotive parts, garments, beer, etc.
The American Samoa is an unorganized territory of the United States governed by the US Department of the Interior. Its main exports are tuna canaries. Besides having the backing of the US, which doesn¡¯t inherently mean too much, the American Somoa¡¯s international presence is very limited.
Supported mostly by funding from Australia and New Zealand, this parliamentary republic gets most of its funding from the tourism, fishing, and offshore financial outsourcing. Recent slow growth in the Gross Domestic profit (of less than 3%) has caused the government to make swift moves to tighten regulation on offshore financial centers.
International politics plays little part into the economy of Tonga because its primitive government is a hereditary constitutional monarchy. Nonetheless, because its economy is dependent on the export of minor agricultural goods and because it has a huge trade deficit, there is a huge dependence on foreign aid from nearby countries that make some economists look to Tonga with bleak visions of the future.
Future and Beyond
The Pacific Islands region mainly lives off of subsistence farming, fishing, agriculture and tourism. Much of the region also relies on assistance from other countries such as France, the United States, Australia and New Zealand. New Caledonia specializes in nickel resources and will continue to take advantage of their natural reserves of nickel. The Federates States of Micronesia, along with French Polynesia and Vanuatu practice subsistence farming and agriculture. French Polynesia is aiming to direct subsistence farming to support in military or tourist efforts. While Western Samoa depends mainly on family remittances and foreign aid, American Samoa specializes in fishing. Outside of their current practices, not much room for diversity is predicted. Palau, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Nauru, the Solomon Islands, and Tonga all rely on remittances and survive by means of subsistence farming. Although Fiji also widely utilizes subsistence farming, they are categorized as one of the most developed in the Pacific Islands region. Through tourism, mining and fishing exports, they have progressed above the rest, but the issue of conflicting property rights and low investment rates have provided much pressure for development. The region¡¯s greatest difficulties in progressing in the future are lacking infrastructures, dependence on foreign aid, and global isolation. Although the geographic position cannot be helped, taking steps to improve their infrastructure and developing their current industries will most likely provide them with a stable future.
Did you know?
Paupa New Guinea is about one-tenth larger than california
American Samoa remains a territory of the U.S.
The Palau island chain consists of about 200 islands located in the western Pacific Ocean
Most of the 150 islands in Tonga are active volcanoes
Canned Tuna is the primary export from American Samoa
Paupa New Guinea's mountainous interior has only recently been explored
Only eight of the islands in Palau are permanently inhabited
English is the official language of Micronesia
Rising ocean levels, due to Global Warming, threaten many Pacific islands with flooding