True Size of Africa had me thinking not only about what the physical geographical size of Africa is, but also, what the geographical size of the Pacific Islands are. [caption id="attachment_2272" align="alignleft" width="151"] Moana Nui: 169.2 million sq. kilometers[/caption] Moana Nui, altogether, covers a third of the planet–about 169 million square kilometers (about 64 million square miles), compared to the size of the African continent, which is a mere 30.2 million sq kilometers (11.6 million square miles). The fact that five Africas can fit onto the surface of the Pacific ocean is trivial– yet what is astonishing is the fact that most of this was home to the peoples of Moana Nui. From A’otearoa (New Zealand) to Ka Pae’aina (Hawai’i) to Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Moana Nui is understood to mean the Great Water. It was only after a Spanish explorer, Vasco Núñez de Balboa, discovered this water for Spain after crossing the Isthmus of Panama in 1513, that the Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan sailed upon it in 1521 and called it Tepre Pacificum, meaning “Pacific” of “Peaceful Sea.” Long before European explorers ventured beyond their own Atlantic ocean, and before European and American colonizers carved up the Pacific, the people of Moana Nui traveled and engaged in trade and managed conservancy throughout their vast region. For the people, the ocean was as much their home as the land was and few understood navigation and what the ocean provided better than they. One of the lessons revealed by the Polynesian Voyaging Society, expresses this conservancy through practicing nearly lost navigational traditions, and one of their stated missions as they embark on their worldwide voyage, is to find a way to malama (care for) the earth. [caption id="attachment_2274" align="alignleft" width="149"] 831, 090 sq. kilometers of land[/caption] To get some relative perspective of actual land mass, I reassembled the map of the islands to get a sense of its relationship to the ocean. I quickly cut up the map in Photoshop and lost patience after a half-an-hour. The islands of Moana Nui consist of the two largest, New Zealand and Papua-New Guinea and includes Fiji, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Rapanui, Tokelau, the Northern Mariana Islands, Pitcairn, Guam and Hawaii, among others. The total land mass amounts to 831,090 sq. kilometers (324,029 sq. miles). Currently, the islands of Moana Nui have a little more land mass than Namibia in Africa (825,418 sq kilometers), and less than the next largest country, Venezuela ((882,050 sq. kilometers). [caption id="attachment_2275" align="alignleft" width="150"] Namibia: 825.418 sq. kilometers[/caption] Unless there is a radical shift in international environmental policy, it is likely, that as a result of climate change, we will see a gross reduction of land as many of these islands are just above sea-level. Already, the rising sea-water has begun to contaminate the supply of natural fresh-water springs, as it has in Kiribati, and arable, usable lands are depleting. Further, when we consider that a correlation can be constructed between the depletion of land resources and the growth of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch— estimated to now be larger than the size of the U.S.– one can easily imagine that soon a patch of garbage the size of Africa will indeed occupy the territory of Moana Nui. The obvious question that comes to mind is whether or not the countries responsible for this systemic environmental disaster should continue to maintain any kind of political or economic authority over this region. [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="150"] The Great Pacific Garbage Patch[/caption] If we begin to think about an economically integrated Moana Nui, by looking at total land mass and the relationships islands can share with each other via sea routes and resources, we begin to get a clearer picture as to how Moana Nui can undo the economically repressive effects of colonization in the 19th century and 20th century industrialization and consumption, while participating in a 21st century global economy.