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BC’s Tales of the Pacific | Good websites for Pacific folks

LAST week’s column mentioned a good website you might visit if you are interested in maritime shipping in the Pacific region.  It got people talking and several readers asked about other websites that may be useful to stay on top of news, culture and history of the Pacific region.

In response to the requests I have pulled together some of my favorite websites from around the pond. Of course, is my favorite of all. If you have some you would like to recommend to us, please do so in the comments section.


The primary site of the BBC out of Great Britain. The BBC has led the world in global perspective reporting for over a hundred years and they are still one of the most thorough and fair news sources available.

One of the finest English language newspapers in China. They sometimes support the Communist Party but often do not. If you want to understand how the Chinese view news events you can do no better.

A proud newspaper in Singapore with a long tradition, the Straits Times takes a more pan-Asian view of news than the Chinese sites so expect to see more articles on Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan and Malaysia.

I like to get a lot of my news via audio format. This site gives me the option to listen to live broadcasts or podcasts of news stories, perfect for listening while driving or doing other things around the house, like cooking or writing columns.

The Australian Broadcasting Company, another website that lets you read the articles or listen to broadcasts and podcasts. For information on the South Pacific I heartily recommend Radio Australia Pacific Beat, a feature of this website.

The official website of Pacific Island News Association, or Pacnews. It is like an Associated Press for islanders, a news clearinghouse that newspapers and broadcasters use. While you can read many Pacnews stories in Marianas Variety, you can also go straight to the source by accessing this website. It is news reporting from an island perspective

Culture and history

The main website for the Pacific Islands Forum, a federation to which many island nations belong. The site is issue-oriented, rather than news-oriented. If you want to know how island nations are dealing with rising sea levels, or what the United Nations is doing to fight human trafficking in the Pacific, this is a good place to start.

The main website for the Center for Pacific Islands Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. This is one of the primary academic institutions in the world devoted to the history and culture of Pacific Islanders. It is a great place to find answers to your questions or to continue your education on the people of the Pacific.

Micronesian Seminar. This was one of the best websites devoted to the history and culture of Pacific islanders. I say “was” because the forum portion of the site has been discontinued, although the rest of it remains up. The website is the labor of love of a remarkable man, Francis Hezel, the godfather of Pacific studies, having authored such landmark books as “Strangers in Their Own Land,” “Making Sense of Micronesia,” and “From Conquest to Colonization.” He knows more about Pacific islanders, especially Micronesians, than anyone else. Even though the forum portion is closed, the Seminar is home to a massive library and archives, now housed on Chuuk, and can be accessed in part through the website. The picture archives are worth keeping the site operating all by itself.

After you have done some serious research or news gathering you may be in the mood to do a little treasure hunting or underwater archaeology. This is one of my favorite websites to explore Pacific shipwrecks. They focus mainly on military or historical wrecks and it helps to have some idea about what you are looking for. The site has many links to other great sites so you prepare to stare at your computer screen for a while.

This list will get you started. People often ask me where I get some of the ideas for columns. Often, the research begins on one of these sites, either as a news story or a historical gem. Start exploring your Pacific world!

BC Cook, PhD lived on Saipan and has taught history for 20 years. He travels the Pacific but currently resides on the mainland U.S.