South pacific

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Rough division of the Pacific into the North and South Pacific

The south-western island world of the Pacific Ocean is referred to as the South Pacific (also called the South Sea ) , as far as it lies south of the equator .


Although the term is not geographically clearly delineated or officially defined, it does include

but not Australia and New Guinea .

The assignment of the Solomon Sea and the marine area between Australia and New Guinea, i.e. the Coral Sea , Gulf of Papua , Arafura Sea and Gulf of Carpentaria , as well as the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand to the South Pacific varies according to topic. The demarcation in the south to the Southern Ocean is chosen geographically largely identical from the 50th parallel, meteorological-nautical south of the Antarctic convergence , in the depth from the South Pacific ridge .

In 2000 the International Hydrographic Organization  (IHO) officially set the 60th  parallel as the northern limit of the Southern Ocean .

South Pacific bottom left and right

The terms South Pacific, Oceania , Austronesia and the word South Sea , which is often used synonymously in Germany , therefore overlap in their meaning. “South Seas” is defined more narrowly and is more of a collective term for the small island states and territories in the region that work together politically, culturally and economically (also because of their small size) in many ways. Examples are the University of the South Pacific (USP) , the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) or the South Pacific Tourism Organization (SPTO) .

Sea surface and cloud cover in the South Pacific

The enormous extent of the region is remarkable: its islands are scattered over an area of ​​sea of ​​many millions of square kilometers (on both sides of the date line ), whereas the total land area of ​​all islands is negligible and the population (excluding New Zealand) of all states and territories is barely a million reached.

In meteorology, the South Pacific is further subdivided into the Southwest Pacific , south of the equator between New Zealand and the 120th degree of longitude and the Southeast Pacific from there to the coast of South America. The first zone encompasses the entire island world of the South Seas and the South Pacific Basin to the south of it , the second the almost islandless areas with the submarine threshold Galapagos Islands - Southwest Pacific Plateau (also: East Pacific Sill) and the Peru-Chile Basin .


Map of the Pacific from 1692 with unknown southern continent (bottom)

Until the 18th century, European scholars suspected the mysterious Terra Australis continent in the southern hemisphere , which was sought after in the South Pacific, among other places. However, the voyages of James Cook in particular showed that such a continent - apart from more southern Antarctica and more western Australia - does not exist. Thereafter, Phantom Island and shallows in the South Pacific were still suspected, the existence of which has not yet been conclusively clarified in some cases .

Web links

Commons : South Pacific  - Collection of images, videos, and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. excludes the subarctic zone
  2. which only leaves the allocation of the Pacific-Antarctic Basin open in the Southeast Pacific
  3. ^ A New Ocean is Born: The fifth "Southern Ocean". In: Retrieved January 17, 2018 .
  4. ^ Severe Weather Information Center , WMO,; Products and Services Notice , Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC),
  5. Etienne Taillemite : The discovery of the South Seas - In search of the terra australis. Ravensburger Buchverlag Otto Maier, Ravensburg 1990, ISBN 3-473-51014-9 , p. 81 ff.