"Across the Pacific and Indian oceans, the Austronesian speaking people have voyaged for centuries making a network of communication within this linguistic family to be the most extensive in the world prior to the European colonial days. Launched from the Western Pacific, in the neighborhood of the South China Sea (yet undetermined), the early Austronesian speakers reached islands of further distance apart traveling in canoes lashed and pegged together to Micronesia, the Lesser Sunda, and the Society Islands to Easter Island and Hawaii. In the westerly direction, voyagers made it to Madagascar. It set the stage for pan- Pacific/Indian Ocean long distance navigation (Sneider and Kyselka 1986).
As this tracing of oceans happened from 5500 years ago to the ethnographic present, the network process of these cultures is now only becoming to be understood as vast sophisticated complex (Bellwood 1998). For Westerners, this was observed by Captain Cook, a British explorer of the oceans and terra incognito in the 1700s his discovered that Austronesian speakers had advance information on his visits before his arrival to islands across the Pacific.
The earliest evidence of the Austronesian linguistic family points to Taiwan (yet unconfirmed as such), and the surrounding islands. Presently there are just under a dozen distinct groups in this family inhabiting the plain such as the Kavalan and Amis, the mountain areas, and the offshore isle of Lanyu where the Daowu (or Yami) live. These people have different cultures proving them with specialized means of co-existing with the natural environment."
(David Blundell, Jieh Hsiang)
[D. Blundell & J. Hsiang, 'Taiwan Austronesian Electronic Cultural Atlas of the Pacific' Proceedings of the 1999 EBTI, ECAI, SEER and PNC Joint Meeting, pp.525-540, January 1999.]