As the various peoples living on the islands in the Pacific Ocean continued their lives, following the traditions of their ancestors, European contact increased in the 17th century. Pedro Fernandes de Queireos set out from Peru in 1605 with settlers to establish a colony in the Solomon Islands. He went too far south, passing by Tuamotu and the Society Islands and finally set his settlers ashore in the New Hebrides in Melanesia in 1606. At the same time, the Dutchman Willem Janszoon, sailing out of the Dutch base in Java, “discovered” Australia. The climax of Dutch exploration came under Governor-General Anthony van Diemen and his captain, Abel Tasman, after 1636. They sailed the northwest coast of Australia, “discovered” and then named New Zealand (1642), found the Tonga and Fiji Islands, and “discovered” the south coast of Van Diemen’s Island in 1644. It has been estimated that the aborigine population of Australia at that time was about 300,000. Jesuit missionaries were sent to Micronesia by Mariana of Austria, Spain’s King Philip IV’s widow, in 1667 and they renamed Magellan’s Ladrones the “Marianas” in the Queen’s honor. Meanwhile, disease continued to rampage and where 20,000 to 30,000 people had previously lived peacefully, by the end of the 17th century only a few thousand remained.


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