Polynesia is a subregion of Oceania, comprising a large grouping of over 1,000 islands scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean
Geographically, and oversimply, Polynesia may be described as a triangle with its corners at Hawaii, New Zealand and Easter Island. The other main island groups located within the Polynesian triangle are Samoa, Tonga, the Cook Islands, Tuvalu, Tokelau, Niue, Wallis and Futuna and French Polynesia.
A Polynesian island group outside of this great triangle is Rotuma which is the north of the Fijian islands. There are also small outlier Polynesian enclaves in Papua New Guinea, the Solomons, The Caroline Islands, some of the Lau group to Fijis southeast and in Vanuatu. However, in essence, Polynesia is an anthropological term referring to one of the three parts of Oceania (the others being Micronesia and Melanesia) whose pre-colonial population generally belongs to one ethno-cultural family as a result of centuries of maritime migrations.
The Polynesian people are considered to be by ancestry a subset of the sea-migrating Austronesian people and the tracing of Polynesian languages places their prehistoric origins in the Malay archipelago.
Polynesia divides into two distinct cultural groups, East Polynesia and West Polynesia. The culture of West Polynesia is conditioned to high populations. It has strong institutions of marriage and well-developed judicial, monetary and trading traditions. It comprises the groups of Tonga, Niue, Samoa and the northwestern Polynesian outliers.
Eastern Polynesian cultures are highly adapted to smaller islands and atolls, principally the Cook Islands, Tahiti, the Tuamotus, the Marquesas, Hawaii, Rapa Nui and smaller central-pacific groups. The large islands of New Zealand were first settled by Eastern Polynesians who adapted their culture to a non-tropical environment.
The following are the islands and island groups, either nations or subnational territories, that are of native Polynesian culture. Some islands of Polynesian origin are outside the general triangle that geographically defines the region.