BEGINNING WITH THE FRENCH explorer Jules d’Urville Dumont in the 1830s, geographers have grouped the far-flung islands of the Pacific Ocean into 3 great island worlds: Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. Melanesia, derived from the Greek words for “black” and “islands,” consists of those islands that extend from New Guinea in the northwest to the Fiji Islands in the southeast. This distance is approximately 3,500 mile (5,600 kilometer). Melanesia includes, besides the large island of New Guinea, at least 7 major island chains: the Admiralty Islands, the Bismarck Archipelago, the Solomon Islands, the Santa Cruz Islands, the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu), New Caledonia and nearby islands, and the Fiji Islands. New Guinea was first settled by sea from Southeast Asia, perhaps as long ago as 40,000 years, and the practice of agriculture was under way in New Guinea by 9,000 years ago, 1 of the earliest dates for agriculture known in the world. The indigenous Melanesian peoples are all dark-skinned—hence the name “Melanesia”—and all practice agriculture with an emphasis on root and tree crops (taro, yams, sweet potatoes, coconut, and sago palms) and pig husbandry. Settlements are small, although villages of up to 1,000 people exist in some areas, for example, in New Guinea’s Sepik River Valley. Melanesia is still largely dependent on subsistence agriculture and most of the people live in rural areas. The largest city of today’s Melanesia is Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea. Port Moresby’s population is approximately 300,000.