European Interaction with Pacific Islands had a Significant Impact
Contact with European warships led to the introduction of diseases that led to the severe depopulation of Pacific island states.
According to a recent study1, contact with European warships led to the introduction of diseases that severely reduced the population of Pacific island states. The study, which was written up in the Journal of Archaeological Science, shows that population decreases were much more extensive than previously believed.
In fact, the study found that after European contact, the population of Tonga's major island fell by between 70 and 86%. On Tonga's main island, they did so by mapping archaeological sites using overhead laser scanning data, and then used archaeological data to calculate the population.
The major island of Tongatapu in the Kingdom of Tonga experienced a severe population reduction over a 50-year span, going from 50,000–60,000 to 10,000 thanks to our greater understanding of the past. Before European contact, Tonga had 100,000–120,000 inhabitants.
Because this quantity is so considerably bigger than anything anyone had previously contemplated, estimations were checked using shipping and missionary data and found to be credible. This clearly demonstrates a significant reevaluation of the effects of globalization in the 19th century. The population of the Pacific islands experienced severe losses following contact when Europeans brought in new illnesses, like in many other parts of the world.
Parton, P., & Clark, G. (2022). Using lidar and Bayesian inference to reconstruct archaeological populations in the Kingdom of Tonga. Journal of Archaeological Science, Reports, 45(103610), 103610. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2022.103610