1. World Map/
  2. Continents/
  3. Australia/Oceania
  4. Australia/Oceania Timeline

Australia/Oceania History Timeline

  • (1800 BC) Oceania first settled by Polynesian peoples in Fiji
  • (900 AD) Ancestors of the Maoris from the Cook Islands reached South Island, New Zealand
  • (1000) Oceania's islands colonized
  • (1000) Maori people settled in New Zealand
  • (1300s) Samoans, Tongans and other Polynesian Islands' residents migrated to Tuvalu Islands
  • (1500s) Ferdinand Magellan of Spain discovered many of the islands in Oceania
  • (1592) Spain claimed Marshall Islands
  • (1616) Dutch explorer, Dirk Hartog, sailed to western Australia
  • (1643) Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman, first European to visit Fiji
  • (1688) English explorer, William Dampier, arrived on west coast of Australia
  • (1770) Captain James Cook landed on east coast of Australia, claimed it for Britain
  • (1788) Ships of the First Fleet from England reach Botany Bay, south of Sydney, to begin a penal colony
  • (1798) British navigator Captain John Jearn, sailed past Nauru, named it Pleasant Island
  • (1815) British missionaries arrived in New Zealand
  • (1820) Kiribati named Gilbert Islands after British naval captain Thomas Gilbert
  • (1840) British law established in New Zealand
  • (1840) Maori people in New Zealand rebelled against British rule
  • (1851) Gold rush began in Australia
  • (1865) European settlers began to arrive on Vanuatu Islands
  • (1874) Fiji became British crown colony
  • (1875 - 1876) One-third of Fiji population wiped out from measles epidemic
  • (1877) Ellice Islands and other groups came under jurisdiction of Britain's Western Pacific High Commission
  • (1884) Britain established protectorate over southeast New Guinea; Germany annexed northern part
  • (1885) Spain asserted claim to Palau
  • (1885) Germany annexed Marshall Islands, paid Spain $4.5 million in compensation
  • (1888) Germany annexed Nauru, made it part of Marshall Island Protectorate
  • (1892) Britain declared a protectorate over Ellice Islands and Gilbert Islands
  • (1893) New Zealand became first country in world to give women right to vote
  • (1893) Britain declared protectorate over southern Solomon Islands
  • (1898) Caroline Islands (Micronesia) came under German colonial control
  • (1899) Spain sold Palau to Germany
  • (1899) Germany annexed Western Samoa, US took over eastern Samoa
  • (1899) Germany ceded northern Solomon Islands to Britain
  • (1900) Tonga became British-protected state
  • (1901) Commonwealth of Australia established
  • (1906) Control of British New Guinea transferred to Australia, renamed Territory of Papua
  • (1906) Vanuatu established as a Condominium, under joint administration of Britain and France
  • (1914) Japan captured Marshall Islands, established military bases
  • (1914) Japanese occupied Micronesia
  • (1914) Japanese seized Palau
  • (1914) Australian troops seized Nauru
  • (1939 - 1945) Micronesia major battleground in World War II
  • (1942 - 1945) Nauru occupied by Japanese
  • (1944) US captured islands from Japanese
  • (1947) Micronesia came under US administration
  • (1947) Nauru became UN trust under administration of Australia
  • (1947) Palau became UN trust under administration of US
  • (1947) New Zealand gained full independence from Britain
  • (1949) Australia established joint administration over Territory of New Guinea and Papua
  • (1954) US detonated hydrogen bomb, Bravo, on Biking Atoll
  • (1962) Western Samoa became independent
  • (1968) Nauru gained independence
  • (1970) Fiji became independent
  • (1970) Tonga became fully independent within British Commonwealth
  • (1973) Papua New Guinea granted self-government
  • (1975) Ellice Islands became separate British dependency under name of Tuvalu
  • (1975) Papua New Guinea attains independence from Australia
  • (1976) Solomon Islands became self-governing
  • (1978) Tuvalu gained independence
  • (1979) Gilbert Islands became independent republic within Commonwealth, named Kiribati
  • (1979) Marshall Islands became independent
  • (1979) New constitution set up Federated States of Micronesia
  • (1980) Vanuatu became independent
  • (1981) Republic of Palau established
  • (1986) Australian law became fully independent of the British parliament and legal system by passage of Australia Act
  • (1986) Tuvalu voted to remain an independent constitutional British monarchy
  • (1994) Palau became independent; joined UN
  • (1998) Three tsunamis hit northwest coast of Papua New Guinea, over 3,000 killed
  • (2000) Olympics held in Sydney, Australia
  • (2001) Tonga lost $26 million in state money in investments made by king's official court jester
  • (2001) Russian space station Mir broke up, landed near Fiji
  • (2001) New Zealander Peter Blake, America's Cup winner, was killed by pirates at Macapa, Brazil
  • (2003) Cyclone Zoe caused destruction in Solomon Islands
  • (2004) Micronesia's Yap Island devastated by Typhoon Sudel
  • (2004) Nauru defaulted on loan payments, assets placed in receivership in Australia
  • (2004) Australian Prime Minister John Howard reelectd
  • (2005) Violent riots triggered by racial tensions resulted in damaged cars, shops, dozens of arrests in Sydney, Australia
  • (2005) Worst bushfires in more than 20 years killed nine in southern Australia
  • (2006) Riots in Tonga's capital city, Nuku'alofa, due to lack of democratic reforms, resulted in deaths of eight, most of business district was destroyed
  • (2006) Kiribati created world's third-largest marine reserve
  • (2006) Australian television personality, Steve Irwin "Crocodile Hunter" was killed by stingray while filming off Great Barrier Reef
  • (2006) Fiji's military commandeer, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, seized control of the country, dismissed Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase
  • (2006) Australia suffered worst drought in more than a century
  • (2007) Large tsunami crashed into Solomon Islands, at least 13 killed, homes destroyed
  • (2007) Earthquake on northeastern coast of New Zealand caused buildings to collapse, power lines knocked out, gas pipes ruptured
  • (2008) Australia ended combat operations in Iraq
  • (2009) Samoa switched to driving on left
  • (2009) Bushfires in Australia, hundreds dead
  • (2009) Tsunami hit Samoan Islands, killed hundreds, swallowed up coastal towns and villages
  • (2010) Tonga held first votes for popularly elected parliament
  • (2010) Vanuatu declared one of the fastest growing economies in Pacific by Asian Development Bank
  • (2011) Queensland, Australia hit by heavy floods
  • (2010) 29 miners killed in explosion in New Zealand coal mine
  • (2010) Four executives of British-Australian company, Rio Tinto, sentenced to prison in Shanghai for bribery and stealing
  • (2011) More than three million people affected by flooding in Australia, major economic disaster
  • (2011) Hundreds killed by quake in Christchurch, New Zealand
  • (2012) Soldiers in Papua New Guinea seize control, demanded reinstatement of ousted Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare
  • (2012) Nauru's cabinet sacked by President Dabwido due to legislative impasse
  • (2012) Cargo ship which ran aground off coast of New Zealand broke in half, threatened oil spill

About the Author

John Moen is a cartographer who along with his wife are the orignal founders of worldatlas.com. He and his wife, Chris Woolwine-Moen, produced thousands of award-winning maps that are used all over the world and content that aids students, teachers, travelers and parents with their geography and map questions. Today, it's one of the most popular educational sites on the web.

Trending on WorldAtlas

This page was last updated on September 19, 2016.