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.
Vanuatu is an 83-island archipelago, of which two — Matthew and Hunter — are also claimed by the French overseas department of New Caledonia. Of all the 83 islands, 14 have surface areas of more than 100 square kilometers. Most of the islands are mountainous and of volcanic origin. The population is 202,609 (July 2004), and the capital is Port Vila.
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.