New Guineans, after separation from the larger Australian land mass some 40,000 years ago, were perhaps the first real islanders.
Early New Guineans were farmers who lived in politically organized tribes, made bows and arrows, and used pottery (Diamond 1999). The other widely distributed islands that make up this global village were the last areas on the planet to be explored and colonized, and according to anthropologist, Philip Houghton, it should be “regarded as the supreme collective human achievement” (Houghton 1996). All other islands, besides New Guinea, in order to be populated by humans, had to have been approached in some sort of sturdy watercraft in order to navigate the ocean distances. Click on the maps on the left for a larger view.
Around 2,000 BC more islands began to be inhabited; one of the first is believed to be Taiwan. The many cultures and languages present among the island populations of this diverse cultural village today have over time resulted from “cultural processes of intrusion, integration, and innovation as stated on the following college website.
The Society Islands, Cook Islands and Marquesas Islands are believed to have been settled sometime in the first centuries AD. The double-hulled sailing canoe, which carried 40-60 people with enough supplies to last a month (Irwin 1992), was the technological advance that allowed for the peopling of these enormous spans of ocean habitats.
There are many indigenous groups to be introduced to: Papua New Guinea’s Motu and Koitabu people, the Taiwanese aborigines, groups from East Timor, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Madagascar, Micronesia and Polynesia who share this global village numbering approximately 35 million people. Some of these populations live within sovereign states, others live within dependencies, and a few live under the rule of a monarch. Grouped altogether they would be considered to have socialist leaning governments, that for the most part are stable and which hold free elections.