MELANESIA: The collective name for the islands of the Pacific Ocean northeast of Australia, including Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
PACIFIC ISLAND JOBS (PIJ) is a portal for jobs in the Pacific, Australia and New Zealand. The following section provides useful information and links for people who want to work, study, visit or live in Melanesia. Links to jobs in Vanuatu, jobs in New Caledonia, jobs in Fiji, jobs in Papua New Guinea and jobs in the Solomon Islands are also provided.
Vanuatu comprises a Y shaped chain of 83 islands, of two main geological origins, coral formation and volcanic activity. Vanuatu’s largest towns are the capital Port Vila, which is situated on Efate, and Luganville, on Espiritu Santo. There are several active volcanoes in Vanuatu, including Yasur on the island of Tanna. With 113 distinct languages and innumerable dialects, the country has one of the highest per capita densities of language forms. Most of the inhabitants of Vanuatu (98.5%) are native Melanesian, or Ni-Vanuatu, with the remainder made up of a mix of Europeans, Asians and other Pacific islanders. The country, formerly named the New Hebrides by explorer Captain Cook, was jointly administered by Britain and France from 1887 to 1980.
Quick Facts: ▪ Capital: Port Vila ▪ Government: Vanuatu is a Republic with a democratically elected government ▪ Population: 221,000 ▪ GDP p c growth: –0.8% p.a. 1990–2004 ▪ Official Languages: Bishlama, French and English ▪ Industries: Agriculture, tourism, fisheries▪ Currency: Vatu (VT) ▪ Climate: Tropical, moderate rainfall from November to April ▪ Environmental Issues: Deforestation.
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- New Caledonia -
New Caledonia is a fragment of an ancient continent. As a result of its geographical isolation, its flora and fauna are unique; 3500 recorded species of plants (three quarters of which occur only there), 4300 species of land animals, 1000 species of fish, 6500 species of marine invertebrates. New Caledonia also has a wealth of industrially critical elements and minerals. The country has 25% of the world’s known nickel reserves. New Caledonia is made up of a main island, the Grande Terre, and several smaller island groups; the Belep archipalogo to the north of Grande Terre, Loyalty Islands to the east, the Île des Pins to the south, the Chesterfield Islands and Bellona Reefs further to the west. The main island of Grand Terre consists of coastal plains and a mountainous interior. New Caledonia is the third largest island in the Pacific Region after Papua New Guinea and New Zealand. There are two main ethnic groups in New Caledonia. The native Melanesians (Kanaks) represent 45% of the population and the Europeans, most of them born in the territory, account for about a third of the inhabitants. New Caledonia is France’s largest overseas territory. Dissatisfaction with French land ownership saw resistance by the indigenous Kanaks during the 1970s and 80s.
Quick Facts: ▪ Capital: Noumea ▪ Government: Territorial collectivity of France since 1998 ▪ Population: 231,000 ▪ Official Languages: French, 33 Melanesian-Polynesian dialects ▪ Industries: Nickel, tourism ▪ Currency: French Pacific Franc (XPF) ▪ Climate: Tropical, warm season September to March, cool season April to August ▪ Environmental Issues: Erosion, forest fires.
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- Fiji -
Fiji lies 1,850km north of Auckland, New Zealand, and 2,800km north-east of Sydney, Australia. The Republic of the Fiji Islands is made up of more than 330 islands. The terrain is mostly mountainous, of volcanic origin. Approximately 70% of the population lives on the two main islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. The population is made up of native Fijians (a mix of Polynesian and Melanesian ancestry) and Indo-Fijians, descendants of Indian contract labourers brought to the islands by the British in the nineteenth century for sugar production. Tourism is the country’s main sources of foreign exchange. Fiji is one of the Pacific’s most developed economies through its production of sugar, gold, fisheries and timber. Fiji has 25 hospitals and is free of malaria.
Quick Facts: ▪ Capital: Suva ▪ Government: Republic ▪ Population: 918,675 ▪ GDP pc growth: 1.7% p.a. 1990–2004 ▪ Official Languages: Fijian, English ▪ Industries: Tourism, sugar, clothing, copra, gold, silver, timber, fisheries ▪ Currency: Fijian Dollar (F$)▪ Climate: Tropical marine; wet rainy season typically November to March ▪ Environmental Issues: Deforestation, soil erosion.
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- Papua New Guinea -
Papua New Guinea consists of the eastern half of the large island of New Guinea, the 600 smaller islands of the Bismarck Archipelago and Bougainville. PNG is culturally diverse with hundreds of distinct tribal groups, speaking more than 800 different languages. A range of rugged mountains (Owen Stanley Range), with an average elevation of between 2,500 and 4,600 metres, runs the length of the island. On the south-western coast, the Fly River forms a vast swampy delta plain. This area is one of the world’s biggest wetlands. There are 24 dormant and 16 active volcanoes. With its rich and varied forests (five kinds of lowland, 13 kinds of mountain rainforest, five kinds of palm and swamp forests, three differing mangrove forests) PNG is home to a diversity of species including the spectacular bird of paradise and the world's largest butterfly, the Queen Alexandra birdwing. The country's natural resources include oil, gas, gold and copper. The island of Bougainville has one of the world’s largest copper mines – Panguna. The majority of the population are dependent on subsistence farming and live in small villages. Social units are based on the family, clan and tribe. Papua New Guinea, most recently administrated by Australia, obtained its independence in 1975.
Quick Facts: ▪ Capital: Port Moresby ▪ Government: Constitutional Parliamentary Democracy ▪ Population: 6 million ▪ GDP p c growth:0.0% p.a. 1990–2004 ▪ Official Languages: Pidgin, English, Motu and over 820 different official languages ▪ Industries: Copra, palm oil, mining (gold, silver and copper), crude oil and petroleum, tourism, logging ▪ Currency: Kina (k) ▪ Climate: Tropical, with wet seasons December-March (northwest) and May to October (southeast) ▪ Environmental Issues: Deforestation, pollution from mining projects, drought.
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- Solomon Islands -
The Solomons is an archipelago of 992 mountainous islands and low-lying coral atolls. Geologically the Solomons is part of the submerged outermost crustal fold of the ancient Australian continent. The island’s interiors are ruggered and mountainous. Many of the islands are of volcanic origin. The famous Spanish explorer Alvaro de Mendana was said to have named the country in 1568 during his voyage to find the source of an old Inca Legend that told of rich lands lying west-ward of South America. The country is rich in undeveloped mineral resources including nickel, gold, bauxite, lead and phosphate. The Solomons is also extremely rich in biological diversity. Rennell and Belona, the Southern most islands of the Solomons, were given World Heritage Status in 1998 for their outstanding universal value as the largest raised coral atoll in the world, with a high number of endemic species, particularly birds. The Solomons were occupied by the Japanese during World War II. The battle for the main island of Guadalcanal saw fierce fighting between Japanese and US forces and resulted in the Japanese suffering one of its major defeats of the Pacific War. On land and underwater, the country is a graveyard to scores of American and Japanese fighters and bombers. Off the coast of Guadalcanal, the world famous navel graveyard ‘Iron Bottom Sound’ is one of the most sought after dive attractions in the world. The Solomons was a British protectorate from 1900 until 1978 and today remains a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state.
Quick Facts: ▪ Capital City: Honiara ▪ Government: Parliamentary Democracy ▪ Population: Approximately 530,000, 85% in rural areas. With a population growth rate of 2.7% per annum, the Solomons has the highest growth rate in the region ▪ GDP p c growth: –2.6% p.a. 1990–2004 ▪ Official Languages: English, Pidgin Industries: Fish, timber, copra, palm oil ▪ Currency: Solomon Dollar ▪ Climate: Tropical. Though there are no defined seasons, November to May are typically wetter months ▪ Environmental Issues: Deforestation, soil erosion, coral reef degradation.
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PACIFIC ISLAND JOBS (PIJ) is a portal for jobs in the Pacific, Australia and New Zealand.