New research into language evolution suggests most Pacific populations originated in Taiwan around 5,200 years ago. The Austronesians arose in Taiwan around 5,200 years ago. Before entering the Philippines, they paused for around a thousand years, and then spread rapidly across the 7,000km from the Philippines to Polynesia in less than one thousand years. After settling Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, the Austronesians paused again for another thousand years, before finally spreading further into Polynesia eventually reaching as far as New Zealand, Hawaii and Easter Island. This cultural and linguistic history opens up compelling perspectives on the globalization process and on the challenges that humankind confronts nowadays.
This is why the Taipei Ricci Institute is now a partner in the "Taiwan Society for Pacific Studies", which gathers researchers, profesors and institutions devoted to a new mapping of Pacific and Austronesian studies in Taiwan. The Society will hold its inaugural forum in February 2011.