- January 2008
The Battle of the Tenaru took place August 21, 1942, on the island of Guadalcanal, and was a land battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II, between Imperial Japanese Army and Allied (mainly United States (U.S.) Marine) ground forces. The battle was the first major Japanese land offensive during the Guadalcanal campaign.
In the battle, U.S. Marines successfully repulsed an assault by the "First Element" of the "Ichiki" Regiment. Ichiki's assault was defeated with heavy losses for the Japanese attackers. After daybreak, the Marine units counterattacked Ichiki's surviving troops, killing many more of them. In total, all but 128 of the original 917 of the Ichiki Regiment's First Element were killed in the battle.
The battle was the first of three separate major land offensives by the Japanese in the Guadalcanal campaign. After Tenaru, the Japanese realized that Allied forces on Guadalcanal were much greater in number than originally estimated and thereafter sent larger forces to the island for their subsequent attempts to retake Henderson Field.
- February 2008
The Polynesian languages are a language family spoken in the region known as Polynesia. They are classified as part of the Austronesian family, belonging to the Eastern Eastern Malayo-Polynesian branch of that family. They fall into two branches: Tongic and Nuclear Polynesian.
There are approximately forty Polynesian languages. The most prominent of these are Tahitian, Samoan, Tongan, Māori, and Hawaiian. Because the Polynesian islands were settled relatively recently and because internal linguistic diversification only began around 2,000 years ago, their languages retain strong commonalities.
Similarities in basic vocabulary may allow speakers from different island groups to achieve a surprising degree of understanding of each other's speech. When a particular language shows unexpectedly large divergence in vocabulary, this may be the result of a name-avoidance taboo situation - see examples in Tahitian, where this has happened often.
- March 2008
The 2006 East Timorese crisis began as a conflict between elements of the military of East Timor over discrimination within the military, and expanded to general violence throughout the country, centred in the capital Dili. The crisis prompted a military intervention by several other countries and led to the resignation of the Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri.
The crisis arose out of a dispute within the military of East Timor (F-FDTL), when soldiers from the western part of the country claimed that they were being discriminated against, in favour of soldiers from the eastern part of the country. Hundreds of soldiers deserted their barracks in February 2006 and were relieved of duty. In April, protests by the former soldiers and their civilian supporters turned violent. The violence escalated during May.
Operation Astute is the name of the international military response to the crisis. Led by the Australian Defence Force, and commanded by Brigadier Michael Slater of the Australian 3rd Brigade, the operation involves forces from four countries.
- April 2008
Swains Island is an atoll in the Tokelau chain, the most northwesterly island administered by American Samoa. Culturally a part of the Tokelau Islands, politically it is an unorganized territory of the United States of America. Swains Island has also been known at various times as Olosenga Island, Olohega Island, Quiros Island, Gente Hermosa Island, and Jennings Island.
Swains Island has a total area of 1.865 km², of which 1.508 km² (151 ha) is land. The central lagoon accounts for the balance of 0.358 km². There is a small islet of 764 m² in the eastern part of the lagoon. The population was 37 in 2005, all located in the village of Talauga on the island's west side.
The atoll is somewhat unusual, featuring an unbroken circle of land enclosing a freshwater lagoon cut off from the sea. Drinking water on Swains is derived entirely from rainfall collected in two large mahogany tanks near the island's copra shed.
- May 2008
The Battle of Savo Island, also known as the First Battle of Savo Island and, in Japanese sources, as the First Battle of the Solomon Sea, took place August 8 – August 9, 1942. It was a naval battle of the Pacific Campaign of World War II, between the Imperial Japanese Navy and Allied naval forces.
In the battle, a Japanese warship task force surprised and routed the Allied naval force, sinking one Australian and three American cruisers, while taking only moderate damage in return. The Japanese force consisted of seven cruisers and one destroyer, commanded by Vice Admiral Gunichi Mikawa. Five cruisers and seven destroyers were involved in the battle.
As a result of the defeat, the remaining Allied warships and the amphibious force withdrew from the Solomon Islands. This temporarily conceded control of the seas around Guadalcanal to the Japanese. Allied ground forces had landed on Guadalcanal and nearby islands only the day before. The withdrawal of the fleet left them in a precarious situation.
- June 2008
Rongorongo is a system of glyphs discovered in the nineteenth century on Easter Island that appears to be writing or proto-writing. It has not been deciphered despite numerous attempts. If rongorongo does prove to be writing, it would be one of only three or four known independent inventions of writing in human history.
Some two dozen wooden objects bearing rongorongo inscriptions, some heavily weathered, burned, or otherwise damaged, were collected in the late 19th century and are now scattered in museums and private collections. None remain on Easter Island.
The objects are mostly tablets made from irregular pieces of wood, sometimes driftwood, but also include a chieftain's staff, a bird-man statuette, and two reimiro ornaments. There are a few very short petroglyphs which may also be rongorongo. Oral history suggests that only a small elite were ever literate, and that the tablets were sacred.
- July 2008
Typhoon Paka (international designation: 9728, JTWC designation: 05C, PAGASA designation: Rubing, also known as Super Typhoon Paka) was the last tropical cyclone in the 1997 Pacific hurricane and typhoon season, and was among the strongest Pacific typhoons in the month of December.
Paka developed on November 28, 1997 from a trough well to the southwest of Hawaii. The storm tracked generally westward, and on December 7 it crossed into the western Pacific Ocean. Much of its track was characterized by fluctuations in intensity, and on December 10 it attained typhoon status as it crossed the Marshall Islands.
On December 16 Paka struck Guam and Rota with winds of 230 km/h (145 mph), and it strengthened further to reach peak winds on December 18 over open waters. Subsequently, it underwent a steady weakening trend, and on December 23 Paka dissipated.
- August 2008
Aoba, also known as Ambae, is an island in the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu. Ambae has a population of less than 10,000, divided into 3-4 discernible language groups. The island has no considerable towns, and there are three airstrips with service by Vanair, at Walaha(W), Redcliff(S), and Longana(E).
Ambae is physically characterized by the large volcano at its center, Manaro; indeed, the island is little more than the peak of a volcanic mountain rising dramatically from the sea. This volcano has no visible vents at its apex, only crater lakes. It is, nevertheless, active: a steam and ash eruption in 2005 displaced around half of the island's inhabitants.
The local economy is largely non-monetary, with cash crop income (from copra, cacao, and dried kava) being used primarily for school fees and sundry items like soap, salt, kerosine, etc. Most regular employment is in the public sector, as teachers. Remittances from employed relatives in the towns of Luganville or Port Vila also contribute cash to the local economy.
- September 2008
Polynesian navigation was a system of navigation used by Polynesians to routinely make long voyages across thousands of miles of open ocean. Navigators traveled to small inhabited islands using only their own senses and knowledge passed by oral tradition from navigator to apprentice.
In order to locate directions at various times of day and year, navigators memorized important facts: the motion of specific stars, and where they would rise and set on the horizon; weather; times of travel; wildlife species; directions of swells on the ocean, and how the crew would feel their motion; colors of the sea and sky; and angles for approaching harbors.
These wayfinding techniques along with outrigger canoe construction methods, were kept as guild secrets. Generally each island maintained a guild of navigators who had very high status; in times of famine or difficulty these navigators could trade for aid or evacuate people to neighboring islands.
- October 2008
Rai stones are large, circular stone disks carved out of limestone, with a hole in the middle. Locals in the island of Yap, Micronesia, have used these stones as a form of unusual currency, a "stone money." The size of the stones varies widely; the largest are 3 meters in diameter and weigh 4 metric tons.
The extrinsic (perceived) value of a specific stone is based not only on its size and craftsmanship but also on the history of the stone. If many people - or no one at all - died when the specific stone was transported, or a famous sailor brought it in, the value of the rai stone increases.
Rai stones were used in social transactions such as marriage, inheritance, political deals, sign of an alliance, ransom of the battle dead or just in exchange for food. Many of them are placed in front of meetinghouses or specific pathways. Though the ownership of a particular stone changes, the stone itself is rarely moved.
- November 2008
Rear Admiral Jules Sébastien César Dumont d'Urville (May 23, 1790, Condé-sur-Noireau, France – May 8, 1842, Meudon, France) was a French explorer and naval officer, who explored the south and western Pacific, Australia, New Zealand, and Antarctica.
D'Urville made three circumnavigations of the world; the first as second in command on La Coquille under Duperrey in 1822-25, and the others as captain of the same ship, now renamed Astrolabe, in 1826-29 and 1837-40.
He invented the terms Micronesia and Melanesia, distinguishing these Pacific cultures and island groups from Polynesia. The D'Urville Sea, D'Urville Island and the Dumont d'Urville Station (all in or off Antarctica), Cape d'Urville in Indonesia and D'Urville Island in New Zealand were named after him. The Rue Dumont d'Urville in Paris was also named for him.
- December 2008
Tabubil is a planned, company operated township located in the Star Mountains area of the North Fly District of Western Province, Papua New Guinea. The town, including the adjoining relocated village of Wangabin and the industrial area of Laytown, is the largest settlement in the province, although the provincial capital, Daru is a similar size.
Tabubil is set in extremely dense jungle. The town is the largest settlement in the country that has never been a provincial capital, or incorporated within one. The town was established primarily to serve the former gold mine of Ok Tedi, which is currently mining copper.
The town is known unofficially as one of the wettest places on earth, with an average annual rainfall of 8 metres per annum, and a peak rainfall of 10 metres per annum. The unique weather conditions have caused much adaptation in the local jungle flora and fauna, causing Tabubil to be particularly interesting to the scientific community.