In previous books of this series dealing with the achievements and adventures of the pioneers whose journeys led to the foundation of the British Empire beyond the seas, I have described the revelation of West Africa, the exploration of British North America, and the experiences of those who laid the foundations of our knowledge concerning India and Further India. The scope of this last volume brought us to Sumatra, Singapore, and Java: that is to say the western part of Malaysia. I now propose to set before my readers the more remarkable among the voyages and strange happenings which led to the discovery of Australasia, and to the inclusion within the British Empire of northern Borneo, south-eastern New Guinea, the continent of Australia, the large islands of New Zealand, and a good many islands and archipelagoes in the Pacific Ocean. The most convenient general term for this region of innumerable islands, large and small, is "Australasia", since it lies mostly in the southern hemisphere and yet is more nearly connected by affinity or proximity with Asia rather than any other continent.
Yet this title is not strictly correct, for Borneo, like Sumatra and Java, is really part of Asia so far as its geological and human history, animals, and plants are concerned; whereas the Malay islands farthest to the east—such as Timor, the Moluccas, and Jilolo—more correctly belong to a distinct region of the world, of which New Guinea and Australia are the headquarters, and New Zealand, Easter Island, the Marquezas Islands, and Hawaii the farthest outlying portions. But in regard to the landing of Europeans and the order of its exploration, Borneo, like the Philippines, forms part of that "Australasia" which was first reached (1521) from the direction of the Pacific Ocean.