EASTERN ASIA and its inhabitants have received the attention of many eminent ethnologists,— Bennett, Bikinore, Burns, Crawfurd, Earl, Keane, Jagor, Giglioli, Hogendorp, Lesson, Logan, Lub bock, Huxley, MacGillivray, De Marne, Marsden, Moor, Newbold, Norris, Peschel, Raffles, St. John, Teraminck, and Wallace,—almost all of whom have resided there, some of them for long terms of years. The names which they applied to this region have been based partly on geographic, partly on ethnic, grounds ; the more generally accepted being— Indonesia, or the Indo-Pacific insular region. Melanesia, comprising New Guinea, Australia, and all the eastern Papuan islands.
Micronesia is all the islands between Melanesia and the Loo-Choo and Japanese chain.
Polynesia, all the islands of the Pacific to the east of Micronesia and Melanesia, as far as Easter Island.
Papuanesia has been occasionally used to distinguish the northern Melanesian islands, in habited chiefly by spiral-haired races.
Oceanica includes all the Indo-Pacific islands.
Asianesia is a comprehensive term, including the S.E. insular region, viz. Indonesia, Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.
The region embraced by these terms extends through 80 degrees of longitude and 80 degrees of latitude, from lat. 40° N. to 40° S., and long. 100° to 180° E. ; and Behm and Wagner's enumeration for 1881 give as under :— Oceanic islands, viz. the Society Islands (Tahiti, Moorea, etc.), Tuamotu group, Gambier group, etc.— The Eastern Archipelago lies entirely within the tropics. It overspreads an area from lat. S. to 10° N. of the equator, and forty-five degrees of longitude (95° to 140° E.), measuring upwards of 4000 miles from east to west, and about 1300 miles from north to south. Three of islands, Borneo, Sumatra, and New Guinea, are larger than Great Britain ; Java, Lucon, and Celebes are about the size of Ireland. The region here indicated is known usually as the Archipelago, also the Eastern and the Malay Archipelago. This Archi pelago is marked by a chain of active and extinct volcanoes through the whole length of Sumatra and Java, and thence by the islands of Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores, the Servatty islands, Banda, Amboyna, Batchian, Makian, Tidore, Ternate, and Gilolo to Morty Island. Here the
belt is broken and shifted 200 miles to the west, to North Celebes, from which it passes on to Sian and Sanguir, to the Philippine Islands, along the eastern side of which it continues in a curving line to their northern extremity. From the ex treme eastern bend of this belt at Banda, for 1000 miles, to the north-east coast of New Guinea, is a non-volcanic district. But there, on the north-east coast of New Guinea, another volcanic belt can be traced through New Britain, New Ireland, and the Solomon Islands to the farthest eastern limits of the Archipelago. The united length of these volcanic belts is 90 degrees, their width about 50 miles ; but for about 200 miles on either side of them, evidences of subterranean action are to be seen in recently elevated coral rock or in the barrier coral reefs, which indicate recent sub mergence. • Five European powers, Spain, Portugal, Hol land, France, and Britain, have sought dominion in the Archipelago. Portugal has now only Macao and the Dilly settlement in Timor. France is directing her attention to Annam and Tonkin on the mainland. Great Britain claims possession, including Hong Kong, of 1400 square miles ; Holland, 600,000 square miles, and rules over 26,000,000. of Asiatics ; and Spain, 116,000 square miles, with eight millions of Asiatic subjects.
Mr. George Windsor Earl, in the middle of the nineteenth century (1855), made known to geo oraphers that a continuous submarine bank aretches out from the Malay and Siamese penin sulas, embracing Sumatra, Borneo, Java, and as far as the Philippines. It extends all along the east side of Asia, from lat. 8° S. to 6° N., 1200 miles from N. to S. and 1500 from E. to W. The soundings in this vast area are all under 100 fathoms, but the greater part from the Gulf of Siam to Sumatra and Java is under 50 fathoms. East of this succeeds the seas of the Straits of Macassar and Lombok, more than 100 fathoms deep. Then begins another bank-- which unites New Guinea and other Papuan islands, the Celebes, the Timor group, the Moluccas, as far as Aru Islands, Mysol, and Waigiou, with Australia.