Polynesia » The Islands of the South Seas
The Islands of the South Seas
Tahiti and Vanuatu, Tonga and Palau... The azure waters of the ocean, frothy surf, coral reefs and beautiful islanders - such associations do most when it comes to remote and romantic islands of the South Seas. Well, all of this there is abundant (except that native women is much more prone to obesity than people think fans Gauguin). However, there is there something else: the road has not been repaired for half a century, ethnic conflicts and generalized poverty.[[page] [pagename:Introduction|The Islands|Independence|Economy|Conflicts] The islands of the South Seas, the territory of Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia - about two dozen states and territories, is very small in size. The smallest of the independent states - Nauru, with a population of 10 thousand. People and an area of ​​21 square meters. km, the largest - Solomon Islands (446 thousand. people) and Fiji (810 thousand.). In most cases, these countries have a population of as a pair of Russian regions, but it has all the attributes of sovereignty laid, including the presence of MFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) Kiribati with four employees, probably the smallest in the world.

In the XIX century. the islands were occupied by European powers, especially Britain and France. However, many of the British territories were governed not by London, and the British dominions - Australia and New Zealand. Somewhat later appeared in the region, and US possessions. Not without competition, but rather moderate, as the super-profits from the ownership of the islands was not expected and took them mainly because of strategic considerations and prestigious. The colonial economy was based on the cultivation of the coconut palm, sugar cane and fishing. At the same time, foreign businessmen quickly found that local workers not very good work on the plantations, preferring regular work healthy sleep and cheerful village festivals. Therefore, the islands were imported from Asia contractors - Indians, Chinese and Vietnamese. [page] In the 1960s. British possessions gained independence. By the time they have long been subsidized, and especially worry about the strategic greatness in London is no longer collected. However, the Islanders for independence is also not sought. In most cases, London and Canberra them this independence just imposed, but in some places the islanders were able to defend their "right to the relationship."

French territories, the largest of which are New Caledonia and Tahiti (officially - French Polynesia) The situation is quite the opposite. And in Tahiti and New Caledonia, there is a movement for independence, but Paris to provide this independence is not going to. Significant role in this play Gallic great-claim, but there are other reasons. First, in contrast to the former British territories, where people from the metropolis almost was not, in the French possessions significant part of the population is white settlers (in New Caledonia, they are now the majority). Secondly, on the atoll is Muroroa French nuclear test site, in recent times, however, dormant.

Finally, on American soil, most of which are considered autonomous states, there is no movement for independence, nor the desire to provide such. Most of the islands are too important for the US military, and their strategic value justifies the generous subsidies to the local economy.

In the last decade, however, the interest in independence weakened. The reasons are obvious: the experience of the region has shown that independence is not only not brought the expected prosperity, but also led to economic decline and political chaos. In 1999, the independent states of the region's average per capita income of US $ 1,129. In the "associated territory" and other formations of semi-he was twice - in 2187 dollars., And in the overseas territories of foreign powers - 22,615 dollars. In other words, in those countries which remained under the yoke of imperialism, the income of 18 (!) times more than in places where islanders enjoy their independence. [page] Economy of Independent States of the South Seas is stagnating. During the last twenty years the growth of per capita income was 0.1% per year - in other words, no growth on the islands is not. The traditional culture of the region - coconut and sugar cane - are all less demand, modern fishing requires large investments, and the industry on the islands is not going to create one: high transport costs and the quality of the labor force is poor (to invest in Vietnam or China far better) . Tourism also requires an initial investment, which on the shoulder only to some countries in the region. Not by chance the main centers of tourism are those territories which became independent: Tahiti, New Caledonia, Guam. Discourage investment and political instability, although here it turns out, rather a vicious circle: poverty leads to discontent and instability, which, in turn, prevent escape poverty.

In trying to find a way out of the situation, local governments have resorted to the most unexpected sources of income - for example, the sale of Internet domains. Since each state relies own domain, and users on the islands almost not, try to sell domains. Especially fortunate in this respect the independent Republic of Tuvalu, national domain which is tv. The right to use this domain and, therefore, to resell its television companies were purchased in bulk from the government of islands Canadian firm for $ 50 million. Business Canadians went wrong, and the deal was canceled. However, these rights are immediately found another buyer to pay for them in 2002, $ 45 million. For a country with a population of 11 thousand. Man, who has not been able to find 20 thousand. US., Required for entry into the UN, 45 million - a huge amount.

However, other countries in the region and actively trade their sovereignty: provide their national numbers phone sex providers sell quotas for geostationary satellites (such quotas rely any state), create offshore zone and record foreign vessels for a minimal fee. According to rumors, the voices of these states in all kinds of international associations and societies, too, are surprisingly little.

Well known in the region tragicomic story of Nauru, which is often called the smallest independent state of the planet (strictly speaking, the Vatican even less). Nauru fabulously lucky huge deposits of phosphates, of which the island, in fact, the whole consists of. After gaining independence in 1968, leading mining companies began to make huge contributions to the budget, and per capita income Nauru soon became one of the highest in the world. Money spent on a grand scale, which could learn from the Gulf sheikhs. Residents of the island are entitled to free flights on planes of state airlines and the president could easily send the government-owned ship on a long voyage to bring you suddenly need a box of fish hooks.

However, phosphates are over. Free services - too. Huge foreign investment that the Government of Nauru has made in 1968-1996 gg., Could theoretically provide a decent income to all its inhabitants and after the depletion of phosphate. In practice, however, these investments are now ten times smaller than originally expected: most of the money was invested very illiterate or simply stolen. Nauru is now a piece of truly Martian landscape: almost all the soil on the island destroyed. Residents remains only to remember his short-lived prosperity.

In fact, the entire region is supported by foreign aid. In the independent countries of the region foreign donations account for about a third of GDP. However, with the end of the Cold War reduced the amount of aid, because one of the reasons was to prevent Soviet penetration into the region (timid attempts such penetration had taken place in the 70s). For the Independent States is the main source of help Australia and dependent territories are subsidized by Paris and Washington.

By the way, Australian and other donors insist on the so-called "South Pacific integration." The existence of some regional structures will significantly simplify their lives, allowing to deal with one and not with twenty local bureaucracy. The Islanders are ready to play these games so far as they are paid by Canberra or, say, the Asian Development Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

For youth exit became emigration. Strictly speaking, the main argument of opponents of independence now is exactly what the French, New Zealand or American citizenship allows without too much trouble to go in search of a better life. For 2000, 340 thousand. Islanders and their descendants living in the continental United States, 225 thousand. Moved to New Zealand and 150 thousand. Australia. Now, for example, more Samoans live in the diaspora than in their native islands. Of the inhabitants of the Cook Islands 83% live in exile, and with the New Zealand island of Niue in the metropolis moved 92% of the population. [page] The situation in the independent states complicate the political conflicts mainly on a national basis. The three largest countries in the region - Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu - went through a period of internal armed conflicts, in all three countries, these collisions can be resumed at any time. Particularly acute situation in Fiji. Approximately half of the population of the islands - a migrant Indians, descendants of workers, once hooked on sugar cane plantations. Indians exceed the indigenous population by education and income, and virtually monopolized the business and skilled trades. Indigenous Fijians, on the contrary, the political control of the structure and the army, a very large scale in the region. The result of this situation is predictable: since 1987 the island has experienced several military coups. The military came to power, begin pursuit of the Indians. Indians leave or close down their businesses, but it leads to a deterioration of the economic situation, since replaced by the Indians indigenous people can not. As a result, everything is back to normal - until the next coup.

Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands conflicts are basically "inner" and relate to the traditional rivalry between local ethnic groups, as well as migration between islands. However, this does not make the situation more stable. Both states are periodically in a state of civil war, and a few times it came to sending the islands "limited contingent" Australian or Papuan "internationalists" (though, Papua - New Guinea, Vanuatu acted on the request of Australia and Canberra for the money).

What will happen next? Most likely, nothing good is not waiting for the region. It is unlikely that the island will attract serious investors, although two or three areas, perhaps, be able to capitalize on any projects. Completely adrift island donors also do not quit - not now such times. However, the region could again be at the center of strategic confrontation - this time between China and the West. The first signs of this turn of events has emerged: China has a station satellite tracking and electronic intelligence in Kiribati, in a pleasant proximity to the US missile range in the Marshall Islands. In this case, some stakeholders will be much more generous. In general, the changes can not be expected: ocean, coral, clean sand and poverty...

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