Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Austronesian expansion was the movement of the people who spoke languages that we now call Austronesian out of Taiwan and throughout much of the Pacific and even parts of the Indian Ocean.  The Austronesian expansion contributed to the fact that Austronesian languages have one of the largest geographical ranges of any language family.

Sometime around 4,000 years ago, people speaking an Austronesian language migrated from the coast of China to Taiwan.  By about 2,500 years before the present, some of them expanded out of Taiwan and reached the Philippines.  From there, they spread out further, reaching as far as Madagascar in the west and Hawaii and Easter Island in the east.  By 1300 AD, they reached New Zealand, which was the last large, uninhabited land (obviously excluding Antarctica) on Earth.

Austronesian languages are spoken today by aboriginal Taiwanese, by the people of the Philippines, and by people throughout Indonesia, Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.  Please follow the link below for a more detailed discussion of this expansion.