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How Many Pacific Island Countries Are There?

So, we’re making progress. You guys know I’m a little obsessed with this stuff. Forgive me, but when you spend more than 10 years of your life visiting every country in the world, it must become an obsession! Anyway,  we know the answer to how many countries in the world (197). And we know how many countries in each continent (Antarctica, South America, North America, Europe, Asia and Australia).

So now we’re working out the regions. How many countries in Southeast Asia, Central America, the Caribbean and FINALLY now we can find out how many pacific island countries there are!

Pacific Island countries
Cook Islands (not a country!)

What are the Pacific Islands Countries

The Pacific Islands can cause a bit of confusion. Sometimes Pacific Countries can mean just the island nations in the ‘Australia/Australasia/Oceania’ region.

But sometimes it includes all of Australia and then also all the way into Asia and Australia. Therefore including Borneo and Papua New Guinea, for example.

Also, you can distinguish between ‘Pacific Islands’ and ‘Pacific Island countries’. The former can refer to any island that finds itself within the Pacific Ocean. And there are lots of those. From Tanzania to Vancouver island.

Whereas Pacific Island “countries’ are sovereign nations that find themselves within the Pacific Ocean. Yet also not part of any of the 7 continents. Confused yet? Me too. Don’t worry, it gets clearer below.

Where are the Pacific Islands Countries

Right slap bang in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. That means they’re found between the Americas and Asia. The easiest, and most common way to understand where they are? They’re kind of all in the direction of where Hawaii is.

List of Pacific Island countries
Vanuatu

List of Pacific Island Countries

  1. Fiji
  2. Kiribati
  3. Marshall Islands
  4. Federated States of Micronesia
  5. Nauru
  6. Palau
  7. Papua New Guinea (also sometimes considered part of the Australian Continent)
  8. Samoa
  9. Solomon Islands
  10. Tonga
  11. Tuvalu
  12. Vanuatu

Pacific Countries that aren’t really countries

Some islands within the Pacific Islands are ‘almost‘ countries. Much like Tibet, the Faroe Islands, Greenland or Svalbard. Yet they belong to China, Denmark, Denmark, and Norway. Most people believe they are independent nations. But technically speaking they aren’t.

Of the list below both the Cook Islands and Niue are the closest to being countries. Yet they still officially belong to New Zealand. Where NZ allows them to behave almost entirely with autonomy. 

So here is the main list of those islands:

  1. American Samoa (belongs to the USA)
  2. Cook Islands (belongs to New Zealand)
  3. French Polynesia* (belongs to France) *that’s where Bora Bora is!
  4. Guam (belongs to the USA)
  5. New Caledonia (belongs to France)
  6. Niue (belongs to New Zealand)
  7. Pitcairn Island (belongs to the UK)
  8. Tokelau (belongs to New Zealand)
  9. Wallis and Futuna (belongs to France)
Pacific Island countries
Samoa

So how many countries in the Pacific Islands? 

There are 12 countries. There are countless other Pacific Islands of course. But all those extra islands aren’t countries. Think of Rapa Nui/Easter Island, for example, which belongs to Chile. Or Tasmania which belongs to Australia. 

Finaly (confusing) thoughts

So when it comes down to how many countries here, the most important thing to focus on first is what constitutes a country. Then after that, you can work out the region. And then slowly pick which islands fall under the list of Pacific Island countries. And with all that confusion, you’ll come up with 12 countries. As listed above. Phew. Thank God that’s over. Can we get back to blogging about some crazy travel stories or the best travel insurance instead now, please?

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2 thoughts on “How Many Pacific Island Countries Are There?

  1. “New Caledonia (belongs to New Zealand)”

    You may want to correct this one, as it is a special collectivity of France and not of New Zealand.

    In addition to Cook Islands and Niue, this one was also close to be its own country, having referendums around becoming independent from France in 2018 and 2020 (which ultimately resulting staying with France).

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