The outer rim of the Ocean as well as producing many earthquakes and volcanoes, has also created new Islands. Within the Pacific Ocean there are around 25,000 islands which are split between those found to the north of the equator, those in the centre of the Ocean and those in the South. The largest Island is New Guinea which is also the second largest Island in the world. It is part of the Melanesia Islands which lie just to the North-East of Australia. Other Islands in the chain include Fiji, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu.
To the south of Melanesia is Micronesia. This region comprises of thousands of small Islands and these are divided politically between several countries. There are actually some self-governed Islands such as the Marshall Islands and Kiribati. The largest group of Islands in terms of area are the Polynesian Islands. These spread from New Zealand in the south to Hawaii in the north. In between are Tonga, Samoa, the Cook Islands and the Easter Islands among others.
Many of the Islands differ in both structure and how they were formed. Hawaii for example is a volcanic Island that has been formed as a result of thousands of years of volcanic eruptions. There are still active volcanoes on the Island today. New Zealand however, is a continental Island that was once connected to Australia. It broke away around 65 million years ago with the sea flooding the low land lying in between forming the Tasman Sea. Another type of Island that is formed is when coral reef has collected on the shallow sea bed and has then been uplifted out of the sea to form dry land. This how the islands of Banaba and Makatea in the French Polynesia have been formed.
As well as the Pacific being home to 25,000 different Islands it also has coastlines with many countries. Some of these coastlines are massive with the ones with Australia and the United States being particularly large.
Many of these countries are connected to the Pacific Ocean by marginal seas. For example the Gulf of Thailand is an inlet of the South China Sea, which itself is a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean. There are many in the pacific such as the Yellow Sea in China the Tasman Sea that on the east coast of Australia separating it from New Zealand and the Japan Sea. The Pacific Ocean is so vast that it is impossible to generalize about the average weather conditions. Generally the weather on the north side of the equator is reflected on the southern side but during different times of the year.
The South’s weather conditions are affected by the El Nino Southern Oscillation while conditions in the north can be affected by the very cold temperatures on the Russian coastline. The summer months see the formation of tropical storms with both hurricane and tornadoes forming over the seas. These events occur over warm seas and there equally hazardous conditions that will happen when the seas are very cold. This time especially in arctic conditions the seas can freeze over. This is especially hazardous for shipping.
Another problem for shipping is the size of the waves, and the Pacific can boast some of the roughest sea conditions in the world. Drakes Passage, just off the southern tip of South America, connects the South Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean. This region is famed for having some of the most dangerous wave conditions in the world. The vastness of the Pacific Ocean means that there is a great variety to the geography of the region. It has influenced many nations and people over the years, and has a strong influence over the development of the region.