The South Pacific islands are scattered across an ocean expanse which is three times the size of Europe, yet their combined land area is only a tiny fraction of it. Located on the opposite side of the world to Europe, within a tropical belt below the equator extending as far down as the Tropic of Capricorn – they are on about the same altitude as Zimbabwe in Africa or Bolivia in South America. The time difference to central Europe is between nine and twelve hours, to the US and South East Asia between three and six hours.
Around 25,000 pinpoint-like islands are dotted around the huge water mass of the Pacific, the exact number will never be ascertained. It depends on how large a sandbank or coral reef has to be before it is defined as an island. A relief map of the ocean bed shows that these countless islands are actually just mountaintops of underwater land formations. Geologically, the islands differ in that some are of volcanic origin and some low-lying coral islands.
Pacific maps online