You may have come cross the name Australasia in our crosswords. It is the regional name for Australia and New Zealand, and despite the last four letters, it does not include Asia. It means ‘south of Asia’.
Every place on Earth has an antipode, ie the spot on Earth’s surface that is diametrically opposite to it. Australia and New Zealand are roughly opposite Britain, so they became known as The Antipodes, although to be exact, the antipodes of Britain and Ireland are in the Pacific Ocean south of New Zealand and the antipode of Australia is in the North Atlantic Ocean. However, it’s close enough!
Oceania is the name given to the region of Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia and includes 14 countries altogether.
Scientists have been debating whether the submerged land mass that New Zealand sits on should be classified as a continent, to be called Zealandia. This submerged mass of continental crust sank after breaking away from Australia 60 – 85 million years ago and is almost completely submerged.
In 2017, geologists from New Zealand, New Caledonia and Australia concluded that Zealandia fulfils all the requirements to be considered a continent, rather than a microcontinent or continental fragment.
For more fascinating word facts like this, check out Prize Puzzles.