I previously asked this on the history stack exchange but unfortunately had no good luck, and I was recommended to give this stack exchange a go, so:

Basically I would like to know if there is an official term for the process which an independent island would undertake once reaching the point in societal/technological development to travel to other islands/land masses and end their isolation by interacting with other peoples through trade/war/etc.

Just to clarify, I mean the island's isolation ending due to the island itself exploring the outside world, not other people landing on the island and colonising it (etc).

Also, if there is only an umbrella term which refers to isolated people in general making outside contact, please provide this but clarify this to be the case.

Thank you very much!

  • 2
    The Age of Discovery is what we call this period in European history.
    – Dan Bron
    Mar 23, 2016 at 19:47
  • Does the exploration of the Pacific by the Polynesians qualify? I think the Polynesians travelled to previously uninhabited islands. Does it have to be an island? If a tribe in the Amazon, for example, decided to break their isolation, would that qualify? I can't think of a word, nor can I think of an example that fits your "island, interact with other people" requirements. An example would be helpful.
    – ab2
    Mar 23, 2016 at 20:29
  • @cobaltduck If such a term exists, it will probably be listed in glossaries of cladistics. That's probably a good place to investigate.
    – Dan Bron
    Mar 23, 2016 at 20:36
  • 2
    I'd have thought exploration would suffice by itself. The way that humans are gradually breaking their isolation on Earth and exploring first the Moon, then other planets, and currently areas outside the Solar System (via Voyager craft etc.) is exactly analogous to your idea of the inhabitants of an island exploring the world outside their ken. And we use space exploration for that process.
    – Charl E
    Mar 23, 2016 at 20:56
  • Cheers for the responses everyone. To clarify: I would like to know if the transition from being isolated people with no outside influences (culturally, socially, technologically, etc) to making contact with other civilisations actually has a name. Preferably an island eventually being able to travel by sea and meeting another group of people, but if the relevant terminology also includes any isolated group (such as aforementioned Amazonian tribes) making outside contact, that will do just fine. Thanks! Mar 23, 2016 at 21:13

4 Answers 4


I think "made contact" is the best way to describe the act of breaking one's own [individual's, group's or people's] isolation. A somewhat recent example is the Pintupi Nine, a nomadic indigenous family group in outback Australia who had remained isolated from the modern world until 1984. Wikipedia has an explanation and external links.


For the end of seclusion/isolationism/autarky, you may refer to:

The opening of the island [to the world].

For example: Once in Edo, Perry strongly demanded and achieved the opening of Japan to the world. One year later, the Kanagawa Treaty was signed between the United States and Japan, ushering in the end of Japan's isolationist policies.


Although not a single word nor an official process name, the phrase “{to} venture off” could be an idiomatic way of implying that the phenomenon was “due to the island itself [/islanders themselves] exploring the outside world, not other people landing on the island and colonising it (etc).”

They would be the first to venture off this island and repopulate the world.

(quoted example from ‘The Pilgrims of Rayne’ by D.J. MacHale, via ‘Google Books’)

1A risky or daring journey or undertaking:
“pioneering ventures into little-known waters”
Verb [no object]
1 Dare to do something or go somewhere that may be dangerous or unpleasant:
“she ventured out into the blizzard”

(from ‘Oxford Dictionaries’)


Not a official term but perhaps you'd consider something like ...

The island like a dubutante was ready to come out to the international community.


A debutante or deb (from the French débutante, "female beginner") is a girl or young lady from an aristocratic or upper classfamily who has reached the age of maturity and, as a new adult, is introduced to society at a formal "debut" presentation. – Wikipedia

come out vb (intr, adverb)

1. to be made public or revealed: the news of her death came out last week. 2. to make a debut in society or on stage – Collins English Dictionary

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