chapter  23
The tourism geography of Australasia
Pages 22

The total population is small compared to that of neighbouring South-East Asia – well under 30 million – and there is generally less pressure on resources. Australia and New Zealand are economically, culturally and politically part of the developed Western world, but both countries play an important developmental role with regard to the other countries in the South Pacific region. In the northern Pacific, the islands of Hawaii are geographically part of Polynesia, but they became the 50th state of the USA in 1959 and are therefore included in Chapter 24. The rest of Australasia is economically part of the developing world, consisting mainly of island mini-states with small populations and limited land resources. Most have become politically independent only since the 1960s, while some of the smaller islands are still governed by countries lying outside the region, notably France and the USA. Yet, despite their image of paradise, there has been civil unrest in the islands, particularly Fiji and the Solomons. With the ending of the Cold War, the islands are no longer supported by the defence industries of the Western powers and must become economically more self-sufficient. For this reason, tourism and the exploitation of the islands’ potentially vast marine resources increasingly play a vital role.