Oceania was first explored by Europeans from the 16th century onward.
Portuguese navigators, between 15, reached the Tanimbar Islands, some of the Caroline Islands and west Papua New Guinea.
There is evidence of genetic and linguistic interchange between Australians in the far north and the Austronesian peoples of modern-day New Guinea and the islands, but this may be the result of recent trade and intermarriage.
The original inhabitants of the group of islands now named Melanesia were likely the ancestors of the present-day Papuan-speaking people.
Micronesia began to be settled several millennia ago, although there are competing theories about the origin and arrival of the first settlers.