Can’t get enough geography? We’re right there with you. The world is a big, beautiful, fascinating place. Here are a few interesting geography facts related to Oceania.
1. Oceania is the smallest continent in the world by land area.
At 3,291,903 square miles (8,525,989 km2), Oceania is the smallest continent in the world in terms of land area. And its population of just over 40 million people makes it the 6th least populous continent in the world, behind Antarctica. The largest and most populous country in Oceania is Australia, and Sydney is the largest city on the continent.
2. Australia is wider than the moon.
This might sound strange, but it’s true. Australia’s diameter is about 600 kilometers wider than the moon’s. The moon is about 3,400 kilometers in diameter, while Australia measures about 4,000 kilometers from east to west. Of course, the moon is a sphere, which means it has a larger surface area, but this is a fun bit of trivia nonetheless.
3. Nauru is the only nation with no official capital.
What is the capital of Nauru? If you said “Yaren”, you’re only partly correct. Yaren does in fact serve as the seat of Nauru’s parliament, making it a de facto capital. However, the country actually does not have a de jure, or legally recognized, capital. This makes the tiny island nation unique from all other countries of the world.
4. Uluru in Australia is the largest rock monolith in the world.
The term “monolith” is somewhat ambiguous, but it is usually used to describe a geological feature consisting of a single massive stone or rock. Uluru (formerly Ayers Rock) in Northern Territory is often referred to as the world’s biggest monolith. Uluru’s surrounding rocks have long eroded away, leaving the massive sandstone rock that remains today.
5. Puncak Jaya is the tallest island mountain on Earth.
At 16,024 feet (4,884 meters), Puncak Jaya on the island of New Guinea is notable for a couple reasons. It is the tallest mountain in Oceania, making it one of Earth’s Seven Summits. But furthermore, this jagged peak is also the tallest island mountain in the world. Interestingly, it is also the highest point between the Himalayas and the Andes.
6. The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system.
One of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland, Australia, is truly a remarkable site. Made up of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands, and stretching for over 1,400 miles (2,300 km), the Great Barrier Reef is larger than the Great Wall of China and the only living thing on Earth visible from space.
7. Wellington, New Zealand, is the world’s southernmost capital city.
With some 418,500 residents, Wellington is the capital city and second most populous urban area in New Zealand. At 41°17′ S, Wellington is also the world’s southernmost capital city, beating Canberra, Australia, which is next on the list at 35° 18′ S. Wellington boasts a rather temperate maritime climate, and is also commonly listed among the world’s windiest cities.
8. There’s a fence in Australia that is longer than the drive from Seattle to Miami.
Okay, so Seattle to Miami is like, really far (2,735 miles, or 4,401 kilometers, to be exact). But you know what’s farther? The Dingo Fence in Australia. Stretching 3,488 miles (5,614 km) from Jimbour to the Nullarbor Plain, this fence was completed in 1885, and has served to keep dingoes out of the fertile southeast part of the country.
9. Kiribati is the only country in the world that is situated in all four hemispheres.
Located in the central Pacific Ocean, Kiribati is a sovereign nation that is made up of 32 atolls and reef islands, and one raised coral island. Despite having a land area of just 310 square miles (800 km2), this country actually spans 1.3 million square miles (3.5 million km2). Its spread straddles both the equator and the 180th meridian, placing it in all four hemispheres.
10. Oceania is the only place in the world that is home to monotremes—mammals that lay eggs.
Monotremes are a group of mammals that lay eggs, but nurse their babies with milk. There are five living species of monotreme, and all live in Australia and New Guinea. While this might seem more like a science fact, their existence today has a lot to do with the geography – Australia and New Guinea have spent millions of years in isolation since breaking off from the other continents, leading to a unique collection of mammal species.