The primary use of the term Oceania is to describe a continental region (like Europe or Africa) that lies between Asia and the Americas, with Australia as the major land mass. The name Oceania is used, rather than Australasia, because unlike the other continental groupings, it is the ocean rather than the continent that links the nations together. Oceania is the smallest continental grouping in land area and the second smallest, after Antarctica, in population.
The southern islands are limestone with level terraces and fringing coral reefs; the northern islands are volcanic, with active volcanoes on Anatahan, Pagan and Agrihan. The volcano on Agrihan is the highest elevation in the islands at 965 meters. About one-fifth of the land is arable, another tenth is permanent pasture. The primary natural resource is fish.
He earned the title of master navigator (palu) by the age of eighteen, around the time the first American missionaries arrived in Satawal. As he neared middle age, Mau grew concerned that the practice of navigation in Satawal would disappear as his people became acculturated to Western values. To preserve the navigational tradition for future generations, Mau shared his knowledge with the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS). With Mau's help, PVS created the Hōkūle‘a, a modern reconstruction of a double-hulled Hawaiian voyaging canoe to test lost navigational techniques. The successful, non-instrument sailing of Hōkūle‘a to Tahiti in 1976, proved the efficacy of Mau's navigational system to the world.