Cleo Paskal

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Flags outside the meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru in September. Photo: Getty Images.

The countries of Oceania have wildly different economies – Papua New Guinea (PNG) exported close to $4 billion in oil and gas in 2016, while in Tonga, the biggest commodity export was $11.6 million worth of agricultural products. But what they have in common is a history of communal landownership, an emphasis on social capital (as opposed to financial capital), and cash-strapped governments.

In many cases, the first two combine to supplement the shortfalls of the last. There may not be government-funded welfare, but someone in the extended family likely has access to land where they can grow food, or will share their fish catch, or will do a church fundraiser to help with school fees.…  Seguir leyendo »

The prime minister of Tonga, Samiuela 'Akilisi Pohiva, arrives at the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit in London in April. Photo: Getty Images.

In April, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson offered a glimpse of what the UK’s post-Brexit foreign policy might look like, announcing nine new diplomatic posts in the Caribbean (Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Grenada, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), southern Africa (Lesotho and eSwatini) and the Pacific (Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu).

All are Commonwealth countries. Most have high proportions of the population who are educated and comfortable in English. Lesotho, eSwatini and Tonga all have monarchs who did at least some of their schooling in the UK. In most cases, there are few other diplomatic posts in these small nations. (Lesotho, at just over 2 million, has the largest population of the nine.)…  Seguir leyendo »