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Collective name for the islands scattered throughout most of the Pacific Ocean. The term especially refers to islands of the central and southern Pacific, including those of Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia; New Zealand is often included and sometimes Australia. In its most restricted sense, excluding Australia but including Papua New Guinea, Oceania includes more than 10,000 islands and has a land area of about 317,000 sq mi (821,000 sq km).
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Oceania, visit Britannica.com.