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Oceania

Population figures correct as at August 2004.

Australia
Population 19,822,405
Capital Canberra
Language English
Religion Protestant, Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Islam
Flag of Australia

Australia comprises the world’s smallest continent, and is bounded by the Southern, Indian and Pacific Oceans. Australia's neighbouring countries include Indonesia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea to the north, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia to the northeast, and New Zealand to the southeast.

Australia is the world's leading wool producer. Tourism continues to grow. The 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne marks the fourth time Australia has played host to the Games.

Australia officially became a member of the Commonwealth of Nations in 1931 under the Statute of Westminster having become independent of the UK in 1901. Australia has attended all Commonwealth Games and has a proud history of tremendous success. Always winning a medal of every colour in every games that they have competed, Australia lead the all-time Commonwealth Games medal tally with 1689 medals including 648 gold.

Out of the 40 swimming events contested at the Manchester Games in 2002, Australia won a staggering 27 gold medals  - nearly three quarters of the medals available! Australia’s swimming performance was led by Ian Thorpe, winning three gold and one silver.

View the final list of medallists from Australia at Melbourne 2006
See highlights and photos from the Queen's Baton Relay in Australia


Cook Islands
Population 20,407
Capital Avarua on Rarotonga
Language English, Maori
Religion Protestant, Roman Catholic
Flag of Cook Islands

The Cook Islands archipelago lies in the South Pacific and is self governing in free association with New Zealand. There are 15 islands in total of which 13 are inhabited.

With a tropical climate, tourism is the country's number one industry, the leading element of the economy, far ahead of offshore banking, pearls, marine and fruit exports.

Seeking to check French expansion in the region, Britain declared the southern Cook Islands a protectorate in 1888. In 1901 all the islands were annexed to New Zealand, and in 1965, they became a self-governing territory in free association with New Zealand, with Cook Islanders retaining New Zealand citizenship. Having first attended the Commonwealth Games in 1974 the Cook Islands did not compete again until the 1986 Games in Edinburgh. 

The Cook Islands have attended seven Commonwealth Games since their debut in 1974. Unfortunately this small island nation has enjoyed no medal success in Commonwealth Games competition. 

View the final list of medallists from Cook Islands at Melbourne 2006
See highlights and photos from the Queen's Baton Relay in Cook Islands


Fiji
Population 823,376
Capital Suva
Language English, Fijian, Hindustani
Religion Protestant, Hindu, Roman Catholic, Sunni Muslim
Flag of Fiji

Fiji, is an island nation in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Vanuatu, west of Tonga and south of Tuvalu. Fiji comprises two main islands of volcanic origin and over 300 smaller islands.

The climate is tropical and the economy is based on agriculture (chiefly sugar - the main export), fishing, forestry, gold mining and tourism.

Fiji was established as a British crown colony in 1874. On 10 October 1970 Fiji achieved independence as a constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth, with the governor-general as the British monarch’s representative. Fiji first entered the Commonwealth in 1970 but left for a ten year period between 1987 and 1997. A veteran of 13 games appearances, Fiji began its Commonwealth Games career in 1938 and has accumulated a total of 13 medals, including three gold.

Fiji’s lone gold medal of the Manchester Games was won by Nacanieli Qerewaqa in the Men’s 100kg plus Judo competition in which he defeated England’s Daniel Sargent in the gold medal bout.

View the final list of medallists from Fiji at Melbourne 2006
See highlights and photos from the Queen's Baton Relay in Fiji


Kiribati
Population 87,025
Capital Tarawa
Language I-Kiribati (Gilbertese), English
Religion Roman Catholic, Protestant, Baha'i, Mormon
Flag of Kiribati

The Republic of Kiribati is an island nation located in the central tropical Pacific Ocean. The country's 33 atolls are scattered over an area near the equator roughly the size of the United States.

The climate is hot and wetter in the north. Kiribati has few natural resources, with commercially viable phosphate deposits exhausted at the time of independence. Copra and fish now represent the bulk of production and exports.

Formerly known as the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, Kiribati became a British crown colony in 1916. Constitutional advances to internal self-government and eventual independence date from 1963. The Gilbertese became self-governing in 1977 and the independent Republic of Kiribati came into being on 12 July 1979 as a member of the Commonwealth. 1998 marked Kiribati’s Games debut.

Two competitors took part in the Weightlifting Kuala Lumpur and in Manchester, four years later, a delegation of 15 people representing Track and Field, Weightlifting, Triathlon and Table Tennis established this central Pacific nation as a member of the Games Family.  

View the final list of medallists from Kiribati at Melbourne 2006
See highlights and photos from the Queen's Baton Relay in Kiribati


Nauru
Population 11,000
Capital Nauru
Language Nauruan, English
Religion Protestant, Roman Catholic
Flag of Nauru

The Republic of Nauru, formerly known as Pleasant Island, is an island republic in the South Pacific Ocean. It is one of the world's smallest independent countries both in terms of population and land area, and it is the only nation in the world with no official capital.

 

A tropical climate with a monsoonal pattern, the island’s once rich revenues have fallen with the depletion of its phosphate reserves, while financial issues have impacted the trust funds and other investments set up to cushion the economy, resulting in a greater reliance on Australian support.

 

Nauru was annexed by Germany in 1888 in pursuit of its phosphate reserves. Following World War I, it became a territory administered by Australia, and in 1947 its status was changed to a trusteeship. Nauru achieved independence in 1968 and was accorded special membership of the Commonwealth that year.. Since 1990, Nauru has attended every Commonwealth Games and has won gold at every appearance, to pick up 24 medals in total, including nine gold - a remarkable feat for such a small nation.

 

A dominant presence and force in weightlifting, Nauru won two gold medals in this discipline at Manchester. Reanna Soloman won the Woman’s 75+kg combined and clean and jerk Weightlifting titles at the 2002 games.

View the final list of medallists from Nauru at Melbourne 2006
See highlights and photos from the Queen's Baton Relay in Nauru


New Zealand
Population 3,817,000
Capital Wellington
Language English, Maori
Religion Roman Catholic, Protestant
Flag of New Zealand

New Zealand is a country of two large islands and many smaller islands in the south-western Pacific Ocean. New Zealand is also known as Aotearoa in the Māori language, or the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’. New Zealand is notable for its isolation, being separated from Australia to the northwest by the Tasman Sea, some 2,000km across. Closest neighbours to the north are New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga.

Farming is the mainstay of the economy. New Zealand is one of the world's leading producers of meat, wool and dairy products. Tourism is the largest foreign exchange earner

A British territory since 1840. In November 1926 New Zealand became a self-governing dominion with equal status to Britain as a member of the British Commonwealth. Full independence was achieved in 1931 and accepted by New Zealand in 1947. New Zealand joined the Commonwealth in 1931 under the Statute of Westminster, and has competed in 17 Commonwealth Games winning a total of 499 medals, including 118 gold in Commonwealth Games competition.

A national passion, Rugby is undoubtedly one of New Zealand’s best sporting disciplines. New Zealand won gold in the Men’s Rugby 7’s competition with victory over Fiji in the gold medal match in both Kuala Lumpur and Manchester.

View the final list of medallists from New Zealand at Melbourne 2006
See highlights and photos from the Queen's Baton Relay in New Zealand


Niue
Population 2,000
Capital Alofi
Language English, Poynesian (Niuean)
Religion Protestant, Roman Catholic
Flag of Niue

The South Pacific island of Niue is self governing in free association with New Zealand. Niue is the largest raised coral atoll in the world with a total land area of 261 km squared. Niue is located 2,400 kilometres north-east of New Zealand in a triangle between Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands.

The climate is tropical, modified by south-east trade winds. The economy consists mainly of small factories to process passionfruit, lime oil, honey and coconut cream. The sale of postage stamps to foreign collectors is an important source of revenue.

Briefly a protectorate, the UK's involvement was passed on in 1901 when New Zealand annexed the island. Independence in the form of self-government was granted by the New Zealand parliament in the 1974 constitution.

First competing in the games of Manchester in 2002, Niue is a new addition to the Commonwealth Games family. Niue won no medals in their debut performance.

View the final list of medallists from Niue at Melbourne 2006
See highlights and photos from the Queen's Baton Relay in Niue


Norfolk Island
Population 1,912
Capital Kingston
Language English
Religion Protestant, Roman Catholic
Flag of Norfolk Island

Norfolk Island is an external territory of Australia and lies in the South Pacific and about 1676km’s east of Sydney.

Tourism is the major industry. Climate is sub-tropical with annual rainfall of 1,200mm falling mainly in winter.

Two British attempts at establishing the island as a penal colony (1788-1814 and 1825-55) were ultimately abandoned. In 1856, the island was resettled by Pitcairn Islanders, descendants of the Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian companions. In 1979, Norfolk was granted self-government by Australia, under which the island elects a government which runs most of the island's affairs Norfolk Island has competed in five Commonwealth Games since 1986 at Edinburgh and has won only one medal.

The lone bronze medal came in the Women’s Singles Lawn Bowls competition where Islander Carmelita Anderson won bronze.

View the final list of medallists from Norfolk Island at Melbourne 2006
See highlights and photos from the Queen's Baton Relay in Norfolk Island


Papua New Guinea
Population 4,200,000
Capital Port Moresby
Language English (official) and Tok Pisin (Pidgin); 715 indigenous languages
Religion Protestant, Roman Catholic, many local beliefs
Flag of Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea has a forested and mountainous interior bordered by swampy plains. The country borders Indonesia and sits north of Australia and west of the Solomon Islands.

Papua New Guinea has a tropical monsoon climate. Most of the workforce is farmers. Timber, copra, coffee and cocoa are important, but exports are dominated by minerals, chiefly copper and gold.

The northern half of the country came into German hands in the late 19th Century, while Australia administered the southern half during World War I and both parts separately afterwards. The two were combined into one territory after World War II, and Papua New Guinea achieved full independence on 16 September 1975, joining the Commonwealth that year. Beginning their association with the Commonwealth Games in 1962, Papua New Guinea has competed in 10 Games since their debut, winning a total of 6 medals in competition, including one gold.

Their lone gold medal came in the 1990 Games in Auckland where Geua Tau won gold in the Women’s Singles Lawn Bowls where she defeated Millie Cecilla Khan of New Zealand in the final.

View the final list of medallists from Papua New Guinea at Melbourne 2006
See highlights and photos from the Queen's Baton Relay in Papua New Guinea


Samoa
Population 235,302
Capital Apia
Language Samoan, English
Religion Protestant, Roman Catholic, Mormon
Flag of Samoa

Samoa is located east of the international dateline and south of the equator, about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand in the Polynesian region of the South Pacific. Samoa is an archipelago of nine islands at the centre of south-west Pacific island groups. The name Samoa, from 'Sa' (sacred) and 'Moa' (centre) means 'Sacred Centre of the Universe'.

Agriculture employs two-thirds of the labour force, and furnishes 90% of exports, featuring coconut cream, coconut oil, noni, and copra, while tourism is also a growing industry.

At the turn of the 20th century, the Samoan islands were split into two sections. The eastern group became territories of the United States, today are known as American Samoa, while the western islands became known as German Samoa, then Western Samoa after passing to New Zealand in 1914. On 1 January 1962 Western Samoa became independent. Samoa became a full member of the Commonwealth in 1970, and made their Commonwealth Games debut in 1974. They have attended eight events, winning 11 medals.

At the 2002 games in Manchester, Ofisa Ofisa won a silver medal in the Men’s Weightlifting 85kg Clean and Jerk. This medal accounts for one of Samoa’s three silver medals in Commonwealth Games competition.

View the final list of medallists from Samoa at Melbourne 2006
See highlights and photos from the Queen's Baton Relay in Samoa


Solomon Islands
Population 470,000
Capital Honiara
Language English, Melanesian, Pidgin, 120 indigenous languages
Religion Protestant, Roman Catholic
Flag of Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands is an archipelago in the south-west Pacific consisting of a double chain of rocky islands and some small coral islands. The six main islands are volcanic, mountainous and forested.

The climate is hot and humid. Subsistence farming and fishing predominate the economy of the Solomon Islands.

The United Kingdom established a protectorate over Solomon Islands in the 1890s. In 1976, self-government was introduced and the name Solomon Islands was officially adopted in place of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate. Independence was achieved on 7 July 1978 under the government of Peter Kenilorea.

Attending five Commonwealth Games, Solomon Islands made their debut in 1982 in Brisbane. Soloman teams are yet to win any medals in games competition.

View the final list of medallists from Solomon Islands at Melbourne 2006
See highlights and photos from the Queen's Baton Relay in Solomon Islands


Tonga
Population 109,959
Capital Nuku'alofa
Language Tongan, English
Religion Protestant, Roman Catholic, Mormon
Flag of Tonga

The Kingdom of Tonga, known as 'the Friendly Islands' lies in the central south-west pacific and its islands straddle the International Date Line. Tonga comprises some 170 islands in the South Pacific Ocean.

The climate is warm with good rainfall, and the economy relies heavily on agriculture. Exports include coconut products, root crops, bananas and vanilla. Fishing, tourism and light industry are increasingly important.

Tonga became a British protected state under a Treaty of Friendship on 18 May 1900, when European settlers and rival Tongan chiefs tried to oust the king. Tonga and Britain signed a new Treaty of Friendship in 1958 and complete independence from Britain came in 1970, when Tonga also joined the Commonwealth. Tonga has competed in six games in their 32 year association with the games, with one medal win to their name.

Paea Wolfgramm won a bronze medal in Men’s Super Heavyweight Division Boxing, which is Tonga’s only medal in Commonwealth Games competition.

View the final list of medallists from Tonga at Melbourne 2006
See highlights and photos from the Queen's Baton Relay in Tonga


Tuvalu
Population 12,000
Capital Funafuti
Language Tuvaluan, English (official)
Religion Protestant
Flag of Tuvalu

Formerly known as the Ellice Islands, Tuvalu comprises nine coral atolls in the South Pacific Ocean. Its name means "Eight Standing Together" in Tuvaluan. With the exception of tiny Vatican City, it has the smallest number of inhabitants amongst independent nations.

One-third of the population lives on Funafuti and most people depend on subsistence farming and fishing. The islands export copra, stamps and clothing.

In 1892, the British took possession of the islands and formed the Gilbert and Ellice Islands’ protectorate. In 1916 they became a crown colony and in 1974 the Ellice Islanders voted in a referendum to separate from the Micronesian Gilbertese, with the official separation taking effect a year later. Tuvalu achieved independence on 1 October 1978 as a constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth.

Tuvalu attended its first Commonwealth Games in 1998 with one weightlifter. At the 2002 Games in Manchester two table tennis players represented the nation. They have won no medals.

View the final list of medallists from Tuvalu at Melbourne 2006
See highlights and photos from the Queen's Baton Relay in Tuvalu


Vanuatu
Population 192,848
Capital Port Vila
Language English, Bislama (English Creole), French (all official)
Religion Protestant, Roman Catholic, traditional beliefs.
Flag of Vanuatu

Vanuatu is made up of a group of islands in the south-west Pacific, lying south of the Solomon Islands and east of the state of Queensland in Australia. Vanuatu occupies an archipelago of some 80 islands in Oceania.

The climate is tropical with heavy rainfall. The majority of people live by farming. Copra, beef, Seashells, cocoa and timber are the main exports.
 
The islands were once jointly developed and governed by Britain and France, an agreement formalised in 1906 into the Anglo-French Condominium under which British and French citizens had political dominance over indigenous peoples. In the 1960s, the ni-Vanuatu people started to press for self-governance and later independence; full sovereignty was finally granted by both European nations on July 30 1980.

Vanuatu made its debut at the Commonwealth Games in 1982. Having competed in six Commonwealth Games, Vanuatu has unfortunately had no success at any of these appearances.

View the final list of medallists from Vanuatu at Melbourne 2006
See highlights and photos from the Queen's Baton Relay in Vanuatu

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