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First posted on May 13th 2008

The Pacific Region 1914-2008 : Periodization

Situation by 1913 The process of turning the Pacific island polities into colonies / protectorates had been completed by 1900; the area had been partitioned by the British, French, Germans and the U.S. (the Spanish had been eliminated in the Spanish-American War of 1898).
World War I, 1914-1918 German possessions (Western Samoa, German New Guinea, Caroline Islands, Marshall Islands, Northern Mariana Islands) taken over by New Zealand (Western Samoa), Australia (German New Guinea) and Japan (Caroline, Marshall, Northrn Mariana Islands).
ANZAC (Australian & New Zealand) regiments served in the British army, mainly opposing Ottoman forces (at Gallipoli, Gaza, in the Palestine Campaign)
1920es post-war inflation; immigration to Australia, New Zealand continued (White Australia policy remained in effect); region exporter of food (AUS, NZ), mining products (AUS, New Caledonia, Nauru etc.)
Great Depression, 1929-1939 caused considerable rise in unemloyment in AUS, NZ; Western Australia considered declaring independence
World War II, 1939-1945 British Empire at war with Germany since 1939; ANZAC (AUS, NZ) troops shipped to Egypt (where they fought in Battle of El Alamein 1942) when the Japanese Empire, following the attack on Pearl Harbour (Dec. 7 1941) launched a campaign of occupying South East Asia and many of the Pacific Islands. Australia and New Zealand, unprotected, saw the stationing of U.S. troops. The Japanese advance was stopped in the Battle of the Coral Sea; the Allies lead by the U.S. retook the Pacific in the Island Hopping Campaign (Battles of Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Saipan, Okinawa).
1945-1962 U.S. takes over Japanese possessions in the Pacific : Micronesian (Caroline) Islands with Palau, Marshall Islands, Northern Mariana Islands. On a number of islands U.S. troops stationed. The wartime construction of ports, airports improved island connections with the rest of the world; local economy became dependent on U.S. garrisons, on income from tourism. Mining industry continued to be of importance; certain islands nuclear test sites (see separate chapter). Australia, New Zealand advanced economies benefitting from post-war economic boom; Hawaii fully integrated into U.S. (1959). Summer Olympics 1956 held in Melbourne, Australia. South Pacific scene of a number of Hollywood movies.
1962-1980 Decolonization : a number of colonies / protectorates were released into independence (see separate chapter). Gradual withdrawal of U.S. garrisons; on some islands mines exploited. In Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, New Caledonia indigenous population campaigned for political rights, vis-a-vis immigrant population.
In 1972 Japanese soldier Shoichi Yokoi, in hiding and unaware that World War II was over, was found on Guam.
Australia, New Zealand economically shift orientation from Britain toward U.S., Japan, Far East. End of White Australia Policy
since 1980 smaller islands : economic crisis; large percentage of population (ex. American Samoa, Wallis et Futuna) resides abroad; political instability : coups on Fiji, small-scale warfare on Bougainville (PNG), Solomon Islands, violence on New Caledonia
Campaign for a nuclear free South Pacific (see separate chapter)
Australia, New Zealand : continued reorientation on Asian market. Increased respect for Aborigine / Maori culture and rights. Summer Olympics 2000 held in Sydney, Australia.

Activities :
1.)    How many famous persons from the Pacific region do you know ? How many of them are descendents of indigenous ancestors, how many of immigrants ?
2.)    If you were to visit the region, what sites would you like to visit ?

External Files Articles Timeline of Australian History, from Wikipedia
Australian History Timelines, from Teachers ASH
Timeline, from New Zealand in History
Timeline of Hawaiian History, from Hawaii School Reports
Timeline Polynesia 1900 A.D. - Present, from Metropolitan Museum of Art
French Polynesia : Historical Timeline, from Polynsian Islands
BBC News Timelines : Fiji, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands
Chronology Japanese Holdouts in the Pacific, from No Surrender, Japanese Holdouts