The oldest Polynesian rocks outside of Zealandia are to be found in the Hawaiian Emperor Seamount Chain, and are 80 million years old.
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The term Polynesia was first used in 1756 by French writer Charles de Brosses, and originally applied to all the islands of the Pacific.
In 1831, Jules Dumont d'Urville proposed a restriction on its use during a lecture to the Geographical Society of Paris.
Historically, these islands have also been referred to as the South Sea Islands.
Polynesia is characterized by a small amount of land spread over a very large portion of the mid and southern Pacific Ocean.
However, in essence, Polynesia is a cultural term referring to one of the three parts of Oceania (the others being Micronesia and Melanesia).
The following are the islands and island groups, either nations or overseas territories of former colonial powers, that are of native Polynesian culture or where archaeological evidence indicates Polynesian settlement in the past.
The Polynesian people are considered to be by linguistic, archaeological and human genetic ancestry a subset of the sea-migrating Austronesian people.
Tracing Polynesian languages places their prehistoric origins in the Malay Archipelago, and ultimately, in Taiwan.
Out of about 300,000 or 310,000 square kilometres (117,000 or 118,000 sq mi) of land, over 270,000 km (1,400,000 sq mi) of continental shelf.
The oldest rocks in the region are found in New Zealand and are believed to be about 510 million years old.
The indigenous people who inhabit the islands of Polynesia are termed Polynesians and they share many similar traits including language family, culture, and beliefs.