New Guinea

New Guinea

Overview
New Guinea is the world's second largest island, after Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

, covering a land area of 786,000 km2. Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

, it lies geographically to the east of the Malay Archipelago
Malay Archipelago
The Malay Archipelago refers to the archipelago between mainland Southeastern Asia and Australia. The name was derived from the anachronistic concept of a Malay race....

, with which it is sometimes included as part of a greater Indo-Australian Archipelago. Geologically it is a part of the same tectonic plate and when world sea levels are low shares shorelines (which now lie 100 to 140 metres below sea level.) combining with Australia and lands now inundated into the tectonic continent of Sahul
Sahul Shelf
The Sahul Shelf is part of the continental shelf of Sahul and lies off the coast of Australia. The Sahul Shelf proper stretches northwest from Australia much of the way under the Timor Sea towards Timor, ending where the seabed begins descending into the Timor Trough...

,
name="Allen 1977"> also known as Greater Australia.
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Encyclopedia
New Guinea is the world's second largest island, after Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

, covering a land area of 786,000 km2. Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

, it lies geographically to the east of the Malay Archipelago
Malay Archipelago
The Malay Archipelago refers to the archipelago between mainland Southeastern Asia and Australia. The name was derived from the anachronistic concept of a Malay race....

, with which it is sometimes included as part of a greater Indo-Australian Archipelago. Geologically it is a part of the same tectonic plate and when world sea levels are low shares shorelines (which now lie 100 to 140 metres below sea level.) combining with Australia and lands now inundated into the tectonic continent of Sahul
Sahul Shelf
The Sahul Shelf is part of the continental shelf of Sahul and lies off the coast of Australia. The Sahul Shelf proper stretches northwest from Australia much of the way under the Timor Sea towards Timor, ending where the seabed begins descending into the Timor Trough...

,
name="Allen 1977"> also known as Greater Australia. The two landmasses became separated when the area now known as the Torres Strait
Torres Strait
The Torres Strait is a body of water which lies between Australia and the Melanesian island of New Guinea. It is approximately wide at its narrowest extent. To the south is Cape York Peninsula, the northernmost continental extremity of the Australian state of Queensland...

 flooded after the end of the last glacial period.

Anthropologically it is considered part of Melanesia
Melanesia
Melanesia is a subregion of Oceania extending from the western end of the Pacific Ocean to the Arafura Sea, and eastward to Fiji. The region comprises most of the islands immediately north and northeast of Australia...

. Politically, the western half of the island comprises two Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

n provinces: Papua
Papua (Indonesian province)
Papua comprises most of the western half of the island of New Guinea and nearby islands. Its capital is Jayapura. It's the largest and easternmost province of Indonesia. The province originally covered the entire western half of New Guinea...

 and West Papua. The eastern half forms the mainland
Mainland
Mainland is a name given to a large landmass in a region , or to the largest of a group of islands in an archipelago. Sometimes its residents are called "Mainlanders"...

 of the country of Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea , officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands...

. New Guinea has a population of about 7.5 million struggling against a hot humid damp rainy climate and constantly dripping jungle covering high mountain-dominated terrain with abrupt features rapidly descending to sea coast, all prone to several severe downpours during all seasons, resulting in a very low population density (8 inh/km2).

New Guinea is differentiated from its drier, flatter, and less fertile southern counterpart, Australia, by its much higher rainfall and its active volcanic geology, with its highest point, Puncak Jaya
Puncak Jaya
Puncak Jaya or Carstensz Pyramid is the highest summit of Mount Carstensz in the Sudirman Range of the western central highlands of Papua province, Indonesia . Other summits are East Carstensz Peak and Ngga Pulu...

, reaching an elevation of 4,884 m (16,023 ft). Yet the two land masses share a similar animal fauna, with marsupials, including wallabies
Wallaby
A wallaby is any of about thirty species of macropod . It is an informal designation generally used for any macropod that is smaller than a kangaroo or wallaroo that has not been given some other name.-Overview:...

 and possums, and the egg-laying monotreme, the spiny anteater, or echidna
Echidna
Echidnas , also known as spiny anteaters, belong to the family Tachyglossidae in the monotreme order of egg-laying mammals. There are four extant species, which, together with the platypus, are the only surviving members of that order and are the only extant mammals that lay eggs...

. Other than bats and some two dozen indigenous rodent genera, there are no pre-human indigenous placental mammals. Pigs, several additional species of rats, and the ancestor of the New Guinea Singing Dog
New Guinea Singing Dog
The New Guinea Singing Dog is a wild dog once found throughout New Guinea. New Guinea Singing Dogs are named for their unique howl....

 were introduced with human colonization.

The human presence on the island dates back at least 40,000 years to the oldest human migrations out of Africa. Research indicates that the highlands were an early and independent center of agriculture, with evidence of irrigation going back at least 10,000 years. Given the time depth of its inhabitation and its highly fractured landscape, an unusually high number of languages are spoken on the island, with some 1,000 languages (a figure higher than that of most continents) having been catalogued out of an estimated world-wide pre-Columbian total of 6,000 human dialects. Most are classified as Papuan languages
Papuan languages
The Papuan languages are those languages of the western Pacific which are neither Austronesian nor Australian. The term does not presuppose a genetic relationship. The concept of Papuan peoples as distinct from Melanesians was first suggested and named by Sidney Herbert Ray in 1892.-The...

, a generally accepted geographical term which a minority of authors hold to be a genetic one. A number of Austronesian languages
Austronesian languages
The Austronesian languages are a language family widely dispersed throughout the islands of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, with a few members spoken on continental Asia that are spoken by about 386 million people. It is on par with Indo-European, Niger-Congo, Afroasiatic and Uralic as one of the...

 are spoken on the coast and on offshore islands.

In the 16th century Spanish explorers discovered the island and called it Nueva Guinea. In recent history western New Guinea was included in the Dutch East Indies
Dutch East Indies
The Dutch East Indies was a Dutch colony that became modern Indonesia following World War II. It was formed from the nationalised colonies of the Dutch East India Company, which came under the administration of the Netherlands government in 1800....

 colony. The Germans annexed the northern coast of the eastern half of the island as German New Guinea
German New Guinea
German New Guinea was the first part of the German colonial empire. It was a protectorate from 1884 until 1914 when it fell to Australia following the outbreak of the First World War. It consisted of the northeastern part of New Guinea and several nearby island groups...

  in their pre–World War I effort to establish themselves as a colonial power. Following the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

, the German portion was awarded to Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 (which had already claimed the southeast, named the Territory of Papua) as a League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 mandate. The eastern half of the island was granted independence from Australia as Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea , officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands...

 in 1975. The western half gained independence from the Dutch in 1961, but became part of Indonesia soon afterwards in controversial circumstances.

Names


The island has been known by various names.

The name Papua was used to refer to the island before contact with the West. Its etymology is unclear, one theory is that it is originated from Tidore language
Tidore language
Tidore of eastern Indonesia is a language centered on the island of Tidore but also spoken in neighboring Halmahera. A Papuan language, it is unlike most languages in Indonesia which belong to the Austronesian language family. It, and the similar Ternate language, appear to be related to languages...

, the language used by Sultanate of Tidore
Sultanate of Tidore
Sultanate of Tidore was a sultanate in Southeast Asia, centered on the island of Tidore, a rival of Sultanate of Ternate for control of the spice trade.-History:...

 that controlled parts of the island's coastal region. The name came from papo (to unite) and negation ua, which mean not united or, territory that geographically far away and thus not united.

Ploeg reports that the word papua is often said to derive from the Malay word papua or pua-pua, meaning 'frizzly-haired', referring to the highly curly hair of the inhabitants of these areas. Another possibility, (put forward by Sollewijn Gelpke in 1993) is that it comes from the Biak
Biak
Biak features a tropical rainforest climate with nearly identical temperatures throughout the course of the year. The average annual temperature in the city is 27 degrees celsius, which is also generally the average temperature of each day in Biak...

 phrase sup i papwa which means 'the land below [the sunset]' and refers to the islands west of the Bird's Head
Bird's Head Peninsula
The Bird's Head Peninsula or Doberai Peninsula is a large peninsula that makes up the northwest portion of the Province of West Papua, Indonesia.-Location and geography:...

, as far as Halmahera
Halmahera
Halmahera is the largest island in the Maluku Islands. It is part of the North Maluku province of Indonesia.Halmahera has a land area of 17,780 km² and a population in 1995 of 162,728...

. Whatever the origin of the name Papua, it came to be associated with this area, and more especially with Halmahera, which was known to the Portuguese by this name during the era of their colonisation in this part of the world.

When the Spanish and Portuguese explorers arrived in the island via Spice Islands, they also referred to the island as Papua. However the name New Guinea would later be used by Westerners starting with Spanish explorer Yñigo Ortiz de Retez
Yñigo Ortiz de Retez
Yñigo Ortiz de Retez was a 16th-century Spanish maritime explorer, who navigated the northern coastline of the Pacific - Melanesian island of New Guinea, and is credited with bestowing the island's name .-Spanish discovery:...

 in 1545, referring to the similarities of the indigenous people's appearance with the natives of Guinea region of Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

. The Dutch which arrived later under Lemaire
Jacob Le Maire
Jacob Le Maire was a Dutch mariner who circumnavigated the earth in 1615-16. The strait between Tierra del Fuego and Isla de los Estados was named the Le Maire Strait in his honor, though not without controversy...

 and Schouten
Willem Schouten
Willem Cornelisz Schouten was a Dutch navigator for the Dutch East India Company. He was the first to sail the Cape Horn route to the Pacific Ocean.- Biography :Willem Cornelisz Schouten was born in c...

 called it Schouten island, but later this name is used only to refer islands to the north of the coast of Papua proper, the Schouten Islands
Schouten Islands
The Indonesian Schouten Islands are an island group of Papua province, eastern Indonesia in the Cenderawasih Bay 50 km off the north-western coast of the island of New Guinea...

 or Biak Island. When the Dutch colonized it as part of Netherlands East Indies they called it Nieuw Guinea.

The name Irian was used in Indonesian language to refer the island and Indonesian province, as "Irian Jaya province". The name was promoted in 1945 by Marcus Kaisiepo, brother of the future governor Frans Kaisiepo
Frans Kaisiepo
Frans Kaisiepo was a National Hero of Indonesia .Kaisiepo was born in Wardo on the island of Biak on October 10, 1921. As the representative of Papua he was involved in the Malino Conference , where the formation of the Republic of Indonesia was discussed...

. It is taken from Biak language
Biak language
Biak is an Austronesian language which has been classified as one of 41 languages of the South Halmahera-West New Guinea subgroup of Eastern Malayo-Polynesian...

 of Biak Island that means to rise, or rising spirit. This name of Irian is the name used in Biak language and other languages such as Serui, Merauke and Waropen languages. The name was used until 2001 when the name Papua is used again for the island and the province. The name Irian which was originally favored by natives, now considered to be name imposed by Jakarta
Jakarta
Jakarta is the capital and largest city of Indonesia. Officially known as the Special Capital Territory of Jakarta, it is located on the northwest coast of Java, has an area of , and a population of 9,580,000. Jakarta is the country's economic, cultural and political centre...

 authority.

Political divisions



The island of New Guinea is divided politically into roughly equal halves across a north-south line:
  • The western portion
    Western New Guinea
    West Papua informally refers to the Indonesian western half of the island of New Guinea and other smaller islands to its west. The region is officially administered as two provinces: Papua and West Papua. The eastern half of New Guinea is Papua New Guinea.The population of approximately 3 million...

     of the island located west of 141°E longitude
    141st meridian east
    The 141st meridian east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, Australasia, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

    , (except for a small section of territory to the east of the Fly River
    Fly River
    The Fly at , is the second longest river, after the Sepik, in Papua New Guinea. The Fly is the largest river in Oceania, the largest in the world without a single dam in its catchment, and overall ranks as the twenty-fifth largest river in the world by volume of discharge...

     which belongs to Papua New Guinea) was formerly a Dutch colony
    Dutch Empire
    The Dutch Empire consisted of the overseas territories controlled by the Dutch Republic and later, the modern Netherlands from the 17th to the 20th century. The Dutch followed Portugal and Spain in establishing an overseas colonial empire, but based on military conquest of already-existing...

    , the Dutch East Indies
    Dutch East Indies
    The Dutch East Indies was a Dutch colony that became modern Indonesia following World War II. It was formed from the nationalised colonies of the Dutch East India Company, which came under the administration of the Netherlands government in 1800....

    , and after decolonization is now two Indonesia
    Indonesia
    Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

    n provinces:
  • West Papua with Manokwari
    Manokwari
    Manokwari is a city in Indonesia. It is the largest city and, since 2003, the capital of the province of West Papua, at the western end of New Guinea. The city has many resorts and is a major tourist area. It is one of the seats of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manokwari–Sorong. It is also the...

     as its capital.
  • Papua
    Papua (Indonesian province)
    Papua comprises most of the western half of the island of New Guinea and nearby islands. Its capital is Jayapura. It's the largest and easternmost province of Indonesia. The province originally covered the entire western half of New Guinea...

     with the city of Jayapura
    Jayapura
    Jayapura City is the capital of Papua province, Indonesia, on the island of New Guinea. It is situated on Yos Sudarso Bay . Its approximate population in 2002 was 200,000....

     as its capital.

  • The eastern part forms the mainland of Papua New Guinea
    Papua New Guinea
    Papua New Guinea , officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands...

    , which has been an independent country since 1975. It was formerly the Territory of Papua and New Guinea
    Territory of Papua and New Guinea
    The Territory of Papua and New Guinea was established by an administrative union between the Australian-administered territories of Papua and New Guinea in 1949...

     governed by Australia, consisting of the Trust Territory of New Guinea
    Territory of New Guinea
    The Territory of New Guinea was the Australia-controlled, League of Nations-mandated territory in the north eastern part of the island of New Guinea, and surrounding islands, between 1920 and 1949...

     ((northeastern quarter, formerly German New Guinea
    German New Guinea
    German New Guinea was the first part of the German colonial empire. It was a protectorate from 1884 until 1914 when it fell to Australia following the outbreak of the First World War. It consisted of the northeastern part of New Guinea and several nearby island groups...

    ), and the Territory of Papua (southeastern quarter). The country consists of four regions:
  • Papua
    Papua Region
    Papua Region is one of four regions of Papua New Guinea. The region includes the national capital Port Moresby.-Subdivision:The Region is administratively divided into six provinces:* Central Province* Gulf Province* Milne Bay Province...

    , consisting of Western, Gulf
    Gulf Province
    Gulf Province is a province of Papua New Guinea located on the southern coast. The provincial capital is Kerema. The 34,500 km² province is dominated by mountains, lowland river deltas, and grassland flood plains, the Kikori, Turama, Purari and Vailala rivers all meet the sea known as the...

    , Central, Oro (Northern)
    Oro Province
    Oro Province, formerly Northern Province, is a coastal province of Papua New Guinea. The provincial capital is Popondetta. The province covers 22,800 km², and has 133,065 inhabitants ....

     and Milne Bay
    Milne Bay Province
    Milne Bay is a province of Papua New Guinea. Its capital is Alotau. The province covers 14,000 km² of land and 252,990 km² of sea, within the province there are more than 600 islands, about 160 of which are inhabited...

     provinces.
  • Highlands
    Highlands Region
    -Subdivision:The Region is administratively divided into five provinces:* Southern Highlands* Enga Province* Western Highlands* Simbu* Eastern Highlands-See also:* Provinces of Papua New Guinea...

    , consisting of Southern Highlands, Enga Province
    Enga Province
    Enga refers to both an ethnic group located in the highlands of Papua New Guinea and the province in which they are the majority ethnic group.-Physical geography:...

    , Western Highlands, Simbu
    Simbu Province
    Simbu, also known as Chimbu, is a Highlands Region province in Papua New Guinea. The province has an area of 6,100 km² and a population of 259,703 . The capital of the province is Kundiawa...

     and Eastern Highlands provinces.
  • Momase
    Momase Region
    Momase Region is one of four regions of Papua New Guinea. Its largest city is Lae, the second city of the nation.-Subdivision:The Region is administratively divided into four provinces:* East Sepik* Madang* Morobe* West Sepik -See also:...

    , consisting of Morobe
    Morobe
    Morobe may refer to several places in Papua New Guinea:*Morobe Province*Morobe, Papua New Guinea*Morobe Goldfield *Morobe Bay...

    , Madang
    Madang Province
    Madang is a province on the northern coast of mainland Papua New Guinea. The province has many of the country's highest peaks, active volcanoes and its biggest mix of languages...

    , East Sepik
    East Sepik
    East Sepik is a province in Papua New Guinea. Its capital is Wewak. East Sepik has an estimated population of 343,180 people and is roughly 42,800 km square in size.-History:...

     and Sandaun (West Sepik)
    Sandaun
    Sandaun Province, officially West Sepik Province, is the north-westernmost province of Papua New Guinea. It covers an area of 36,300 km² and has a population of 185,741 . The capital is Vanimo...

     provinces.
  • Islands
    Islands Region
    The Islands Region is one of four regions of Papua New Guinea comprising the Bismarck Archipelago and North Solomon Islands located north-east of the mainland...

    , consisting of Manus
    Manus Province
    Manus Province is the smallest province in Papua New Guinea with a land area of 2,100 km², but with more than 220,000 km² of water. The capital of the province is Lorengau and the total population is 43,387 ....

    , West New Britain
    West New Britain
    West New Britain is a province of Papua New Guinea on the islands of New Britain. The provincial capital is Kimbe. The area of the province in 21,000 km², and there are 184,508 inhabitants . West New Britain produces palm oil for export...

    , East New Britain
    East New Britain
    East New Britain is a province of Papua New Guinea, on the north-eastern part of the island of New Britain and it also includes the Duke of York Islands. The capital of the province is Kokopo, not far from the old capital of Rabaul, which was largely destroyed in the 1994 volcanic eruption...

     and New Ireland provinces, and the Bougainville
    Bougainville Province
    The Autonomous Region of Bougainville, previously known as North Solomons, is an autonomous region in Papua New Guinea. The largest island is Bougainville Island , and the province also includes the island of Buka and assorted outlying islands including the Carterets...

     Autonomous Province.
Each province has an administration headed by a governor who is also a member of the national parliament.

People


The current population of the island of New Guinea is about 7.5 million. Many believe human habitation on the island dates to as early as 40,000 B.C., and first settlement possibly dated back to 60,000 years ago has been proposed. The island is presently populated by very nearly a thousand different tribal groups and a near-equivalent number of separate language
Language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

s, which makes New Guinea the most linguistically diverse area in the world. Ethnologue
Ethnologue
Ethnologue: Languages of the World is a web and print publication of SIL International , a Christian linguistic service organization, which studies lesser-known languages, to provide the speakers with Bibles in their native language and support their efforts in language development.The Ethnologue...

's 14th edition lists 826 languages of Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea , officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands...

 and 257 languages of Irian Jaya, total 1073 languages, with 12 languages overlapping. They fall into one of two groups, the Papuan languages
Papuan languages
The Papuan languages are those languages of the western Pacific which are neither Austronesian nor Australian. The term does not presuppose a genetic relationship. The concept of Papuan peoples as distinct from Melanesians was first suggested and named by Sidney Herbert Ray in 1892.-The...

 and the Austronesian languages
Austronesian languages
The Austronesian languages are a language family widely dispersed throughout the islands of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, with a few members spoken on continental Asia that are spoken by about 386 million people. It is on par with Indo-European, Niger-Congo, Afroasiatic and Uralic as one of the...

. The separation was not merely linguistic; warfare
Endemic warfare
Endemic warfare is the state of continual, low-threshold warfare in a tribal warrior society. Endemic warfare is often highly ritualized and plays an important function in assisting the formation of a social structure among the tribes' men by proving themselves in battle.Ritual fighting permits...

 among societies was a factor in the evolution of the men's house: separate housing of groups of adult men, from the single-family houses of the women and children, for mutual protection against the other groups. Pig
Pig
A pig is any of the animals in the genus Sus, within the Suidae family of even-toed ungulates. Pigs include the domestic pig, its ancestor the wild boar, and several other wild relatives...

-based trade between the groups and pig-based feasts are a common theme with the other peoples of southeast Asia and Oceania. Most societies practice agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

, supplemented by hunting and gathering
Hunter-gatherer
A hunter-gatherer or forage society is one in which most or all food is obtained from wild plants and animals, in contrast to agricultural societies which rely mainly on domesticated species. Hunting and gathering was the ancestral subsistence mode of Homo, and all modern humans were...

.
The great variety of the island's indigenous populations are frequently assigned to one of two main ethnological divisions, based on archaeological, linguistic and genetic evidence: the Papuan
Papuan peoples
Papuan is a cover term for the various indigenous peoples of New Guinea and neighboring islands, speakers of so-called Papuan languages. They are often distinguished linguistically from Austronesians, speakers of a language family introduced into New Guinea about three thousand years ago, but this...

 and Austronesian
Austronesian people
The Austronesian-speaking peoples are various populations in Oceania and Southeast Asia that speak languages of the Austronesian family. They include Taiwanese aborigines; the majority ethnic groups of East Timor, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, Madagascar, Micronesia, and Polynesia,...

 groups.

Current evidence indicates that the Papuans (who constitute the majority of the island's peoples) are descended from the earliest human inhabitants of New Guinea. These original inhabitants first arrived in New Guinea at a time (either side of the Last Glacial Maximum
Last Glacial Maximum
The Last Glacial Maximum refers to a period in the Earth's climate history when ice sheets were at their maximum extension, between 26,500 and 19,000–20,000 years ago, marking the peak of the last glacial period. During this time, vast ice sheets covered much of North America, northern Europe and...

, approx 21,000 years ago) when the island was connected to the Australian continent via a land bridge
Land bridge
A land bridge, in biogeography, is an isthmus or wider land connection between otherwise separate areas, over which animals and plants are able to cross and colonise new lands...

, forming the landmass known as Sahul. These peoples had made the (shortened) sea-crossing from the islands of Wallacea
Wallacea
Wallacea is a biogeographical designation for a group of Indonesian islands separated by deep water straits from the Asian and Australian continental shelves. Wallacea includes Sulawesi, the largest island in the group, as well as Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores, Sumba, Timor, Halmahera, Buru, Seram, and...

 and Sundaland
Sundaland
Sundaland is a biogeographical region of Southeastern Asia which encompasses the areas of the Asian continental shelf that was exposed during the last ice age. It included the Malay Peninsula on the Asian mainland, as well as the large islands of Borneo, Java, and Sumatra and their surrounding...

 (the present Malay Archipelago
Malay Archipelago
The Malay Archipelago refers to the archipelago between mainland Southeastern Asia and Australia. The name was derived from the anachronistic concept of a Malay race....

) by at least 40,000 years ago, subsequent to the dispersal of peoples from Africa (circa) 50,000 - 70,000 years ago.

The ancestral Austronesian peoples are believed to have arrived considerably later, approximately 3,500 years ago, as part of a gradual seafaring migration from Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

, possibly originating in Taiwan. Austronesian-speaking peoples colonized many of the offshore islands to the north and east of New Guinea, such as New Ireland
New Ireland (island)
New Ireland is a large island in Papua New Guinea, approximately 7,404 km² in area. It is the largest island of the New Ireland Province, lying northeast of the island of New Britain. Both islands are part of the Bismarck Archipelago, named after Otto von Bismarck, and they are separated by...

 and New Britain
New Britain
New Britain, or Niu Briten, is the largest island in the Bismarck Archipelago of Papua New Guinea. It is separated from the island of New Guinea by the Dampier and Vitiaz Straits and from New Ireland by St. George's Channel...

, with settlements also on the coastal fringes of the main island in places. Human habitation of New Guinea over tens of thousands of years has led to a great deal of diversity, which was further increased by the later arrival of the Austronesians and the more recent history of European and Asian settlement through events like transmigration
Transmigration program
The transmigration program was an initiative of the Dutch colonial government, and later continued by Indonesian government to move landless people from densely populated areas of Indonesia to less populous areas of the country...

.

Large swathes of New Guinea are yet to be explored by scientists and anthropologists. The Indonesian province of West Papua is home to an estimated 44 uncontacted tribal groups
Uncontacted peoples
Uncontacted people, also referred to as isolated people or lost tribes, are communities who live, or have lived, either by choice or by circumstance, without significant contact with globalized civilisation....

.

Biodiversity and ecology


With some 786,000 km² of tropical land — less than one-half of one percent (0.5%) of the Earth's surface — New Guinea has an immense biodiversity
Biodiversity
Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

, containing between 5 and 10 percent of the total species on the planet. This percentage is about the same amount as that found in the United States or Australia. A high percentage of New Guinea's species are endemic
Endemic (ecology)
Endemism is the ecological state of being unique to a defined geographic location, such as an island, nation or other defined zone, or habitat type; organisms that are indigenous to a place are not endemic to it if they are also found elsewhere. For example, all species of lemur are endemic to the...

, and thousands are still unknown to science: probably well over 200,000 species of insect, between 11,000 to 20,000 plant species; over 650 resident bird species, including 37 species of birds of paradise
Bird of paradise
The birds-of-paradise are members of the family Paradisaeidae of the order Passeriformes. The majority of species in this family are found on the island of New Guinea and its satellites, with a few species occurring in the Moluccas and eastern Australia. The family has forty species in 14 genera...

 and bowerbird
Bowerbird
Bowerbirds make up the bird family Ptilonorhynchidae. The family has 20 species in eight genera. These are medium-sized passerines, ranging from the Golden Bowerbird to the Great Bowerbird...

s, parrot
Parrot
Parrots, also known as psittacines , are birds of the roughly 372 species in 86 genera that make up the order Psittaciformes, found in most tropical and subtropical regions. The order is subdivided into three families: the Psittacidae , the Cacatuidae and the Strigopidae...

s, and cassowaries
Cassowary
The cassowaries are ratites, very large flightless birds in the genus Casuarius native to the tropical forests of New Guinea, nearby islands and northeastern Australia. There are three extant species recognized today...

; over 400 amphibians; 455 butterfly
Butterfly
A butterfly is a mainly day-flying insect of the order Lepidoptera, which includes the butterflies and moths. Like other holometabolous insects, the butterfly's life cycle consists of four parts: egg, larva, pupa and adult. Most species are diurnal. Butterflies have large, often brightly coloured...

 species; marsupial
Marsupial
Marsupials are an infraclass of mammals, characterized by giving birth to relatively undeveloped young. Close to 70% of the 334 extant species occur in Australia, New Guinea, and nearby islands, with the remaining 100 found in the Americas, primarily in South America, but with thirteen in Central...

s and monotreme
Monotreme
Monotremes are mammals that lay eggs instead of giving birth to live young like marsupials and placental mammals...

s including Bondegezou, Goodfellow's Tree-kangaroo
Goodfellow's Tree-kangaroo
Goodfellow's Tree-kangaroo , also called the Ornate Tree Kangaroo, belongs to the family Macropodidae, which includes kangaroos, wallabies and their relatives, and the genus Dendrolagus, with eleven other species. The species is native to the rainforests of New Guinea, and the border of central...

, Huon Tree-kangaroo, Long-beaked Echidna
Long-beaked echidna
The long-beaked echidnas make up one of the two genera of echidnas, spiny monotremes that lives in New Guinea. There are three living species and two extinct species in this genus...

, Tenkile
Tenkile
The Tenkile , also known as Scott's Tree-kangaroo, is a species of tree-kangaroo in the Macropodidae family. It is endemic to a very small area of the Torricelli Mountains of Papua New Guinea. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical dry forests. It is threatened by habitat loss.The Tenkile...

, Agile Wallaby
Agile Wallaby
The Agile Wallaby , also known as the Sandy Wallaby, is a species of wallaby found in northern Australia and New Guinea. It is the most common wallaby in Australia's north....

, Alpine Wallaby, cuscus
Cuscus
Cuscus is the common name generally given to the species within the four genera of Australasian possum:* Ailurops* Phalanger* Spilocuscus* Strigocuscus...

es and possum
Possum
A possum is any of about 70 small to medium-sized arboreal marsupial species native to Australia, New Guinea, and Sulawesi .Possums are quadrupedal diprotodont marsupials with long tails...

s; and various other mammal species. Most of these species are shared, at least in their origin, with the continent of Australia, which was until fairly recent geological times, part of the same landmass (see Australia-New Guinea for an overview). The island is so large that it is considered 'nearly a continent' in terms of its biological distinctiveness.

In the period from 1998 to 2008, conservationists have found 1,060 new species in New Guinea, they were 218 kinds of plants, 43 reptiles, 12 mammals, 580 invertebrates, 134 amphibians, 2 birds and 71 fish.


Biogeographically
Biogeography
Biogeography is the study of the distribution of species , organisms, and ecosystems in space and through geological time. Organisms and biological communities vary in a highly regular fashion along geographic gradients of latitude, elevation, isolation and habitat area...

, New Guinea is part of Australasia
Australasia
Australasia is a region of Oceania comprising Australia, New Zealand, the island of New Guinea, and neighbouring islands in the Pacific Ocean. The term was coined by Charles de Brosses in Histoire des navigations aux terres australes...

 rather than the Indomalaya
Indomalaya
The Indomalaya ecozone is one of the eight ecozones that cover the planet's land surface. It extends across most of South and Southeast Asia and into the southern parts of East Asia....

n realm, although New Guinea's flora has many more affinities with Asia than its fauna, which is overwhelmingly Australian. Botanically, New Guinea considered part of Malesia
Malesia
Malesia is a biogeographical region straddling the boundaries of the Indomalaya ecozone and Australasia ecozone, and also a phytogeographical floristic region in the Paleotropical Kingdom.-Floristic province:...

, a floristic region that extends from the Malay Peninsula across Indonesia to New Guinea and the East Melanesian Islands
East Melanesian Islands
The East Melanesian Islands, also known as the Solomons-Vanuatu-Bismarck moist forests, is a biogeographic region notable for its unique flora and fauna and species richness. The region is designated a biodiversity hotspot by Conservation International , and one of the outstanding Global 200...

. The flora of New Guinea is a mixture of many tropical rainforest
Tropical rainforest
A tropical rainforest is an ecosystem type that occurs roughly within the latitudes 28 degrees north or south of the equator . This ecosystem experiences high average temperatures and a significant amount of rainfall...

 species with origins in Asia, together with typically Australasian flora. Typical southern hemisphere flora include the conifers Podocarpus
Podocarpus
Podocarpus is a genus of conifers, the most numerous and widely distributed of the podocarp family Podocarpaceae. The 105 species of Podocarpus are evergreen shrubs or trees from 1-25 m in height...

and the rainforest emergents Araucaria
Araucaria
Araucaria is a genus of evergreen coniferous trees in the family Araucariaceae. There are 19 extant species in the genus, with a highly disjunct distribution in New Caledonia , Norfolk Island, eastern Australia, New Guinea, Argentina, Chile, and southern Brazil.-Description:Araucaria are mainly...

and Agathis
Agathis
The genus Agathis, commonly known as kauri or dammar, is a relatively small genus of 21 species of evergreen tree. The genus is part of the ancient Araucariaceae family of conifers, a group once widespread during the Jurassic period, but now largely restricted to the Southern Hemisphere except for...

,
as well as tree ferns and several species of Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus is a diverse genus of flowering trees in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae. Members of the genus dominate the tree flora of Australia...

.

New Guinea has 284 species and six orders of mammals: (monotremes, three orders of marsupials, rodents and bats); 195 of the mammal species (69%) are endemic. New Guinea has 578 species of breeding birds, of which 324 species are endemic. The island's frogs are one of the most poorly known vertebrate groups, currently totalling 282 species, but this number is expected to double or even triple when all species have been documented. New Guinea has a rich diversity of coral life and 1,200 species of fish have been found. Also about 600 species of reef-building coral — the latter equal to 75 percent of the world’s known total. The entire coral area covers 18 million hectares off a peninsula in northwest New Guinea.

Terrestrial


According to the WWF
World Wide Fund for Nature
The World Wide Fund for Nature is an international non-governmental organization working on issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment, formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States...

, New Guinea can be divided into twelve terrestrial ecoregions:
  • Central Range montane rain forests
  • Central Range sub-alpine grasslands
  • Huon Peninsula montane rain forests
  • New Guinea mangroves
    New Guinea mangroves
    The New Guinea mangroves is a mangrove ecoregion that covers extensive areas of the coastline New Guinea, the large island in the western Pacific Ocean north of Australia.-Location and description:...

  • Northern New Guinea lowland rain and freshwater swamp forests
    Northern New Guinea lowland rain and freshwater swamp forests
    The Northern New Guinea lowland rain and freshwater swamp forests is a tropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion of northern New Guinea.-Setting:...

  • Northern New Guinea montane rain forests
  • Southeastern Papuan rain forests
  • Southern New Guinea freshwater swamp forests
  • Southern New Guinea lowland rain forests
  • Trans Fly savanna and grasslands
    Trans Fly savanna and grasslands
    The Trans Fly savanna and grasslands are a lowland ecoregion on the south coast of the island of New Guinea in both the Indonesian and Papua New Guinean sides of the island...

  • Vogelkop montane rain forests
  • Vogelkop-Aru lowland rain forests

Freshwater


The WWF
World Wide Fund for Nature
The World Wide Fund for Nature is an international non-governmental organization working on issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment, formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States...

 and Nature Conservancy divide New Guinea into five freshwater ecoregions:
  • Vogelkop–Bomberai
  • New Guinea North Coast
  • New Guinea Central Mountains
  • Southwest New Guinea–Trans-Fly Lowland
  • Papuan Peninsula

Marine


The WWF and Nature Conservancy identify several marine ecoregions in the seas bordering New Guinea:
  • Papua
  • Bismarck Sea
    Bismarck Sea
    The Bismarck Sea lies in the southwestern Pacific Ocean to the north of the island of Papua New Guinea and to the south of the Bismarck Archipelago and Admiralty Islands. Like the Bismarck archipelago, it is named in honour of the German chancellor Otto von Bismarck...

  • Solomon Sea
    Solomon Sea
    The Solomon Sea is a sea located within the Pacific Ocean. It lies between Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Many major battles were fought there during World War II.-Extent:...

  • Southeast Papua New Guinea
  • Gulf of Papua
    Gulf of Papua
    The Gulf of Papua is a 400 kilometer wide region on the south shore of New Guinea. Some of New Guinea's largest rivers, such as the Fly River, Turama River, Kikori River and Purari River, flow into the gulf, making it a large delta. While the western coast is characterized by swampy tidal...

  • Arafura Sea
    Arafura Sea
    The Arafura Sea lies west of the Pacific Ocean overlying the continental shelf between Australia and New Guinea.-Geography:The Arafura Sea is bordered by Torres Strait and through that the Coral Sea to the east, the Gulf of Carpentaria to the south, the Timor Sea to the west and the Banda and Ceram...


Early history



The first inhabitants of New Guinea arrived at least around 40,000 years ago, having travelled through the south-east Asian peninsula. These first inhabitants, from whom the Papuan people are probably descended, adapted to the range of ecologies and in time developed one of the earliest known agricultures. Remains of this agricultural system, in the form of ancient irrigation systems in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, are being studied by archaeologists. This work is still in its early stages so there is still uncertainty as to precisely what crop was being grown, or when/where agriculture arose. Sugar cane was cultivated for the first time in New Guinea around 6000 B.C.

The gardens of the New Guinea Highlands
New Guinea Highlands
The New Guinea Highlands, also known as the Central Range or Central Cordillera, are a chain of mountain ranges and intermountain river valleys, many of which support thriving agricultural communities, on the large island of New Guinea, which lies to the north of Australia...

 are ancient, intensive permaculture
Permaculture
Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that is modeled on the relationships found in nature. It is based on the ecology of how things interrelate rather than on the strictly biological concerns that form the foundation of modern agriculture...

s, adapted to high population densities, very high rainfalls (as high as 10,000 mm/yr (400 in/yr)), earthquakes, hilly land, and occasional frost. Complex mulches, crop rotations and tillages are used in rotation on terraces with complex irrigation systems. Western agronomists still do not understand all practices, and it has been noted that native gardeners are as or more successful than most scientific farmers in raising certain crops. There is evidence that New Guinea gardeners invented crop rotation well before western Europeans. A unique feature of New Guinea permaculture is the silviculture
Silviculture
Silviculture is the practice of controlling the establishment, growth, composition, health, and quality of forests to meet diverse needs and values. The name comes from the Latin silvi- + culture...

 of Casuarina oligodon, a tall, sturdy native ironwood
Casuarinaceae
Casuarinaceae is a family of dicotyledonous flowering plants placed in the order Fagales, consisting of 3 or 4 genera and approximately 70 species of trees and shrubs native to the Old World tropics , Australia, and the Pacific Islands...

 tree, suited to use for timber and fuel, with root nodules that fix nitrogen. Pollen studies
Palynology
Palynology is the science that studies contemporary and fossil palynomorphs, including pollen, spores, orbicules, dinoflagellate cysts, acritarchs, chitinozoans and scolecodonts, together with particulate organic matter and kerogen found in sedimentary rocks and sediments...

 show that it was adopted during an ancient period of extreme deforestation.

In more recent millennia another wave of people arrived on the shores of New Guinea. These were the Austronesian people
Austronesian people
The Austronesian-speaking peoples are various populations in Oceania and Southeast Asia that speak languages of the Austronesian family. They include Taiwanese aborigines; the majority ethnic groups of East Timor, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, Madagascar, Micronesia, and Polynesia,...

, who had spread down from Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

, through the South-east Asian archipelago
Maritime Southeast Asia
Maritime Southeast Asia refers to the maritime region of Southeast Asia as opposed to mainland Southeast Asia and includes the modern countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, East Timor and Singapore....

, colonising many of the islands on the way. The Austronesian people had technology and skills extremely well adapted to ocean voyaging and Austronesian language speaking people are present along much of the coastal areas and islands of New Guinea. This Austronesian migrants are considered ancestors of most people in insular Southeast Asia form Sumatra, Java to Borneo and Sulawesi, and coastal new Guinea.

Pre-colonial history



Western part of the island has been in contact with kingdoms in other parts of modern-day Indonesia. Negarakertagama mentioned region of Wanin in eastern Nusantara
Nusantara
Nusantara is an Indonesian word for the Indonesian archipelago. It is originated from Old Javanese and literally means "archipelago".The word Nusantara was taken from an oath by Gajah Mada, as written on an old Javanese manuscript Pararaton and Negarakertagama...

 as part of Majapahit's tributary. This has been identified with Onin Peninsula, part of Bomberai Peninsula
Bomberai Peninsula
Bomberai Peninsula is located on the Western New Guinea region at the opposite south of the Bird's Head Peninsula in South East Asia. To the west lies the Sebakor Bay and the south Kamrau Bay. Sabuda island lies off the western tip of the peninsula, which is separated from the mainland by Berau...

 near the city of Fakfak
Fakfak
Fakfak is a city in Indonesia and seat of the Fakfak Regency. It is served by Fakfak Airport. It is the only town in West Papua with a Muslim Indian and Arab Indonesian presence.-History:...

. The sultans of Tidore
Tidore
Tidore is a city, island, and archipelago in the Maluku Islands of eastern Indonesia, west of the larger island of Halmahera. In the pre-colonial era, the kingdom of Tidore was a major regional political and economic power, and a fierce rival of nearby Ternate, just to the north.-Geography:Tidor...

, in Maluku Islands
Maluku Islands
The Maluku Islands are an archipelago that is part of Indonesia, and part of the larger Maritime Southeast Asia region. Tectonically they are located on the Halmahera Plate within the Molucca Sea Collision Zone...

, claimed sovereignty over various coastal part of the island. During Tidore's rule, the main export of the island during this period is resins, spices, slaves and the highly priced feathers of Bird-of-Paradise. Sultan Nuku, one of the most famous Tidore sultan who rebelled against Dutch colonization, called himself "Sultan of Tidore and Papua", during his revolt in 1780s. He commanded loyalty from both Moluccan and Papuan chiefs, especially those of Raja Ampat Islands. Following Tidore's defeat, much of the territory it claimed in western part of New Guinea come under Dutch rule as part of Dutch East Indies.

European contact


The first European contact with New Guinea was by Portuguese
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 and Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 sailors in the 16th century. In 1526-27 the Portuguese explorer Jorge de Meneses saw the western tip of New Guinea and named it ilhas dos Papuas. In 1545 the Spaniard Yñigo Ortiz de Retez
Yñigo Ortiz de Retez
Yñigo Ortiz de Retez was a 16th-century Spanish maritime explorer, who navigated the northern coastline of the Pacific - Melanesian island of New Guinea, and is credited with bestowing the island's name .-Spanish discovery:...

 sailed along the north coast of New Guinea as far as the Mamberamo River near which he landed, naming the island 'Nueva Guinea'. The first map showing the whole island (as an island) was published in 1600 and shows it as 'Nova Guinea'. In 1606 Spanish navigator Luís Vaz de Torres
Luís Vaz de Torres
Luís Vaz de Torres , also Luis Váez de Torres in the Spanish spelling, was a 16th-17th century maritime explorer serving the Spanish Crown, noted for the first recorded navigation of the strait which separates the continent of Australia from the island of New Guinea, and which now bears his name...

 explored the southern coast of New Guinea from Milne Bay
Milne Bay
Milne Bay is a large bay in Milne Bay Province, southeastern Papua New Guinea. The bay is named after Sir Alexander Milne.The area was a site of the Battle of Milne Bay in 1942....

 to the Gulf of Papua
Gulf of Papua
The Gulf of Papua is a 400 kilometer wide region on the south shore of New Guinea. Some of New Guinea's largest rivers, such as the Fly River, Turama River, Kikori River and Purari River, flow into the gulf, making it a large delta. While the western coast is characterized by swampy tidal...

 including Orangerie Bay which he named Bahía de San Lorenzo. His expedition also discovered Basilaki Island
Basilaki Island
Basilaki Island is an island in the Louisiade Archipelago in Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea. It is located at the eastern end of the New Guinea mainland. Its area is 100 km2.- References :http://islands.unep.ch/...

 naming it Tierra de San Buenaventura, which he claimed for Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 in July 1606. On October 18 his expedition reached the western part of the island in present-day Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

, and also claimed the territory for the King of Spain.


A successive European claim occurred in 1828, when the Netherlands formally claimed the western half of the island as Netherlands New Guinea
Netherlands New Guinea
Netherlands New Guinea refers to the West Papua region while it was an overseas territory of the Kingdom of the Netherlands from 1949 to 1962. Until 1949 it was a part of the Netherlands Indies. It was commonly known as Dutch New Guinea...

. In 1883, following a short-lived French annexation of New Ireland
New Ireland (island)
New Ireland is a large island in Papua New Guinea, approximately 7,404 km² in area. It is the largest island of the New Ireland Province, lying northeast of the island of New Britain. Both islands are part of the Bismarck Archipelago, named after Otto von Bismarck, and they are separated by...

, the British colony of Queensland
Queensland
Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

 annexed south-eastern New Guinea. However, the Queensland government's superiors in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

 revoked the claim, and (formally) assumed direct responsibility in 1884, when Germany
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 claimed north-eastern New Guinea as the protectorate of German New Guinea
German New Guinea
German New Guinea was the first part of the German colonial empire. It was a protectorate from 1884 until 1914 when it fell to Australia following the outbreak of the First World War. It consisted of the northeastern part of New Guinea and several nearby island groups...

 (also styled Kaiser-Wilhelmsland
Kaiser-Wilhelmsland
Kaiser-Wilhelmsland was part of the German New Guinea, the South Pacific protectorate of the German Empire. Named in honor of Wilhelm II, who was the German Emperor and King of Prussia, it included the north-eastern part of the present day Papua New Guinea. From 1884 until 1918, the territory...

). The first Dutch government posts were established in 1898 and in 1902 Manokwari on the north coast, Fak-Fak in the west and Merauke in the south at the border with British New Guinea.

The Germans, the Dutch and the British tried to suppress warfare and headhunting
Headhunting
Headhunting is the practice of taking a person's head after killing them. Headhunting was practised in historic times in parts of China, India, Nigeria, Nuristan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Borneo, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, Micronesia, Melanesia, New Zealand, and the Amazon Basin, as...

, which was once common between the villages of the populace.

In 1905 the British government renamed their territory as the Territory of Papua, and in 1906 transferred total responsibility for it to Australia. During World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, Australian forces seized German New Guinea, which in 1920 became the Territory of New Guinea
Territory of New Guinea
The Territory of New Guinea was the Australia-controlled, League of Nations-mandated territory in the north eastern part of the island of New Guinea, and surrounding islands, between 1920 and 1949...

, a League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 mandated
League of Nations mandate
A League of Nations mandate was a legal status for certain territories transferred from the control of one country to another following World War I, or the legal instruments that contained the internationally agreed-upon terms for administering the territory on behalf of the League...

 territory of Australia. The Australian territories became collectively known as The Territories of Papua and New Guinea (until February 1942).

Before about 1930, most European maps showed the highlands as uninhabited forests. When first flown over by aircraft, numerous settlements with agricultural terraces and stockades were observed. The most startling discovery took place on 4 August 1938, when Richard Archbold
Richard Archbold
Richard Archbold was an American zoologist and philanthropist. He was independently wealthy, being the grandson of the capitalist John Dustin Archbold. He was educated at private schools and later attended classes at Columbia University though he never graduated...

 discovered the Grand Valley
Baliem Valley
The Baliem Valley, also spelled Balim Valley and sometimes known as the Grand Valley, of the highlands of Western New Guinea, is occupied by the Dani people. The main town in the valley is Wamena...

 of the Baliem River which had 50,000 yet-undiscovered Stone Age farmers living in orderly villages. The people, known as the Dani
Dani People
The Dani people, also spelled Ndani, and sometimes conflated with the Lani group to the west, are a people from the central highlands of western New Guinea ....

, were the last society of its size to make first contact with the rest of the world.

Since World War II


Netherlands New Guinea and the Australian territories were invaded in 1942 by the Japanese
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

. The Australian territories were put under military administration and were known simply as New Guinea. The highlands, northern and eastern parts of the island became key battlefields in the South West Pacific Theatre
South West Pacific theatre of World War II
The South West Pacific Theatre, technically the South West Pacific Area, between 1942 and 1945, was one of two designated area commands and war theatres enumerated by the Combined Chiefs of Staff of World War II in the Pacific region....

 of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Papuans often gave vital assistance to the Allies
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

, fighting alongside Australian troops, and carrying equipment and injured men across New Guinea. Following the return to civil administration, the Australian section was known as the Territory of Papua-New Guinea (1945–49) and then as Papua and New Guinea. Although the rest of the Dutch East Indies achieved independence as Indonesia on 27 December 1949, the Netherlands regained control of western New Guinea.

During the 1950s the Dutch government began to prepare Netherlands New Guinea
Netherlands New Guinea
Netherlands New Guinea refers to the West Papua region while it was an overseas territory of the Kingdom of the Netherlands from 1949 to 1962. Until 1949 it was a part of the Netherlands Indies. It was commonly known as Dutch New Guinea...

 for full independence and allowed elections in 1959; the elected New Guinea Council
New Guinea Council
The New Guinea Council was a unicameral representative body formed in the Dutch colony of Netherlands New Guinea in 1961. The council was inaugurated on 5 April 1961 with 28 council members, 16 of whom had been elected in elections held during January 1961....

 took office on 5 April 1961. The Council decided on the name of West Papua for the territory, along with an emblem, flag, and anthem to complement those of the Netherlands. On 1 October 1962, the Dutch handed over the territory to the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority
United Nations Temporary Executive Authority
The United Nations Temporary Executive Authority / United Nations Security Force in West New Guinea was established during October 1962 in accord with Article two of the New York Agreement to administer the colony of West New Guinea until the 1st May 1963.-History:Western New Guinea became the...

, until 1 May 1963, when Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

 took control. The territory was renamed West Irian and then Irian Jaya. In 1969 Indonesia, under the 1962 New York Agreement
New York Agreement
The Agreement between the Republic of Indonesia and the Kingdom of the Netherlands Concerning West New Guinea , also known as the New York Agreement, was a treaty signed between Indonesia and the Netherlands on the political status of West New Guinea...

, organised a referendum named the Act of Free Choice
Act of Free Choice
Act of Free Choice was an event in July to August 1969 by which Indonesia asserts that the Western New Guinea population decided to relinquish their sovereignty in favor of Indonesian citizenship...

, in which Papuan tribal elders reached a consensus to continue union with Indonesia.
There has been resistance to Indonesian integration and occupation, both through civil disobedience (such as Morning Star flag raising ceremonies) and via the formation of the Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM, or Free Papua Movement) in 1965. Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

 has estimated more than 100,000 Papuans
Papuan languages
The Papuan languages are those languages of the western Pacific which are neither Austronesian nor Australian. The term does not presuppose a genetic relationship. The concept of Papuan peoples as distinct from Melanesians was first suggested and named by Sidney Herbert Ray in 1892.-The...

, one-sixth of the population, have died as a result of government-sponsored violence against West Papuans.

From 1971, the name Papua New Guinea was used for the Australian territory. On 16 September 1975, Australia granted full independence to Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea , officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands...

.

In 2000, Irian Jaya was formally renamed "The Province of Papua
Papua (Indonesian province)
Papua comprises most of the western half of the island of New Guinea and nearby islands. Its capital is Jayapura. It's the largest and easternmost province of Indonesia. The province originally covered the entire western half of New Guinea...

" and a Law on Special Autonomy was passed in 2001. The Law established a Papuan People's Assembly (MRP) with representatives of the different indigenous cultures of Papua. The MRP was empowered to protect the rights of Papuans, raise the status of women in Papua, and to ease religious tensions in Papua; block grants were given for the implementation of the Law as much as $266 million in 2004. The Indonesian courts
Court system of Indonesia
The Court system of Indonesia comprises the Supreme Court of Indonesia and the Constitutional Court of Indonesia together with public courts, religious courts, administrative courts and military courts.-The Supreme Court:...

' enforcement of the Law on Special Autonomy blocked further creation of subdivisions of Papua: although President Megawati Sukarnoputri
Megawati Sukarnoputri
In this Indonesian name, the name "Sukarnoputri" is a patronymic, not a family name, and the person should be referred to by the given name "Megawati"....

 was able to create a separate West Papua province in 2003 as a fait accompli
Fait Accompli
Fait accompli is a French phrase which means literally "an accomplished deed". It is commonly used to describe an action which is completed before those affected by it are in a position to query or reverse it...

, plans for a third province on western New Guinea were blocked by the courts. (King, 2004, p. 91) Critics argue that the Indonesian government has been reluctant to establish or issue various government implementing regulations so that the legal provisions of special autonomy could be put into practice, and as a result special autonomy in Papua has failed.

Geography


New Guinea is an island in the north of the continent of Sahul
Sahul Shelf
The Sahul Shelf is part of the continental shelf of Sahul and lies off the coast of Australia. The Sahul Shelf proper stretches northwest from Australia much of the way under the Timor Sea towards Timor, ending where the seabed begins descending into the Timor Trough...

, also known as Greater Australia. It is isolated by the Arafura Sea
Arafura Sea
The Arafura Sea lies west of the Pacific Ocean overlying the continental shelf between Australia and New Guinea.-Geography:The Arafura Sea is bordered by Torres Strait and through that the Coral Sea to the east, the Gulf of Carpentaria to the south, the Timor Sea to the west and the Banda and Ceram...

 to the west and the Torres Strait
Torres Strait
The Torres Strait is a body of water which lies between Australia and the Melanesian island of New Guinea. It is approximately wide at its narrowest extent. To the south is Cape York Peninsula, the northernmost continental extremity of the Australian state of Queensland...

 and Coral Sea
Coral Sea
The Coral Sea is a marginal sea off the northeast coast of Australia. It is bounded in the west by the east coast of Queensland, thereby including the Great Barrier Reef, in the east by Vanuatu and by New Caledonia, and in the north approximately by the southern extremity of the Solomon Islands...

 to the east. Sometimes considered to be the easternmost island of the Malay archipelago
Malay Archipelago
The Malay Archipelago refers to the archipelago between mainland Southeastern Asia and Australia. The name was derived from the anachronistic concept of a Malay race....

, it lies north of Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

's Top End
Top End
The Top End of northern Australia is the second northernmost point on the continent. It covers a rather vaguely-defined area of perhaps 400,000 square kilometres behind the northern coast from the Northern Territory capital of Darwin across to Arnhem Land with the Indian Ocean on the west, the...

, Gulf of Carpentaria
Gulf of Carpentaria
The Gulf of Carpentaria is a large, shallow sea enclosed on three sides by northern Australia and bounded on the north by the Arafura Sea...

 and Cape York peninsula
Cape York Peninsula
Cape York Peninsula is a large remote peninsula located in Far North Queensland at the tip of the state of Queensland, Australia, the largest unspoilt wilderness in northern Australia and one of the last remaining wilderness areas on Earth...

, and west of the Bismarck Archipelago
Bismarck Archipelago
The Bismarck Archipelago is a group of islands off the northeastern coast of New Guinea in the western Pacific Ocean and is part of the Islands Region of Papua New Guinea.-History:...

 and the Solomon Islands Archipelago
Solomon Islands (archipelago)
The Solomon Islands are an archipelago in the South-Western Pacific Ocean, northeast of Australia, in the region known as Melanesia. The archipelago is currently divided between two countries; Papua New Guinea, in which they make up the autonomous province of Bougainville; and the Solomon Islands,...

.

Prior to the 1970s, archaeologists called the single Pleistocene landmass by the name Australasia, although this word is most often used for a wider region that includes lands like New Zealand that are not on the same continental shelf. In the early 1970s they introduced the term Greater Australia for the Pleistocene continent. Then at a 1975 conference and consequent publication, they extended the name Sahul from its previous use for just the Sahul Shelf
Sahul Shelf
The Sahul Shelf is part of the continental shelf of Sahul and lies off the coast of Australia. The Sahul Shelf proper stretches northwest from Australia much of the way under the Timor Sea towards Timor, ending where the seabed begins descending into the Timor Trough...

 to cover the continent.

A central east-west mountain range dominates the geography of New Guinea, over 1600 km (994.2 mi) in total length. The western half
Western New Guinea
West Papua informally refers to the Indonesian western half of the island of New Guinea and other smaller islands to its west. The region is officially administered as two provinces: Papua and West Papua. The eastern half of New Guinea is Papua New Guinea.The population of approximately 3 million...

 of the island of New Guinea contains the highest mountains in Oceania, rising up to 4884 m (16,024 ft) high, and ensuring a steady supply of rain from the equatorial atmosphere. The tree line is around 4000 m (13,123.4 ft) elevation and the tallest peaks contain permanent equatorial glacier
Glacier
A glacier is a large persistent body of ice that forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation over many years, often centuries. At least 0.1 km² in area and 50 m thick, but often much larger, a glacier slowly deforms and flows due to stresses induced by its weight...

s—which have been retreating since at least 1936. Various other smaller mountain ranges occur both north and west of the central ranges. Except in high elevations, most areas possess a warm humid climate throughout the year, with some seasonal variation associated with the northeast monsoon season.

The Highest Peaks on the Island of New Guinea are:
  • Puncak Jaya
    Puncak Jaya
    Puncak Jaya or Carstensz Pyramid is the highest summit of Mount Carstensz in the Sudirman Range of the western central highlands of Papua province, Indonesia . Other summits are East Carstensz Peak and Ngga Pulu...

    , sometimes known by its former Dutch name Carstensz Pyramid, is a mist covered limestone mountain peak on the Indonesian side of the border. At 4884 metres (16,024 ft), Puncak Jaya makes New Guinea the world's fourth highest landmass.
  • Puncak Mandala
    Puncak Mandala
    Puncak Mandala , is a mountain located in Papua, Indonesia. Following Mount Carstensz 350 km to the east, Mandala is the second highest freestanding mountain of Oceania, Australasia, New Guinea and Indonesia.-Further reading:* at GunungBagging.com...

     located in Papua, is the second highest peak on the island at 4760 metres (15,617 ft).
  • Puncak Trikora
    Puncak Trikora
    Puncak Trikora, until 1963 Wilhelmina Peak, is a 4730 or high mountain in the Papua province of Indonesia on New Guinea. It lies in the eastern part of the Sudirman Range of the Maoke Mountains. Behind Puncak Jaya at , it is either the second or third highest mountain on the island of New Guinea...

     also in Papua is 4750 metres (15,584 ft).
  • Mount Wilhelm
    Mount Wilhelm
    Mount Wilhelm is the highest mountain in Papua New Guinea at . It is part of the Bismarck Range and the peak is the point where three provinces intersect, Simbu, Western Highlands and Madang...

     is the highest peak on the PNG side of the border at 4509 metres (14,793 ft). Its granite peak is the highest point of the Bismarck Range.
  • Mount Giluwe
    Mount Giluwe
    Mount Giluwe is the second highest mountain in Papua New Guinea at . It is located in the Southern Highlands province and is an old shield volcano with vast alpine grasslands. Ancient volcanic plugs form its two summits, with the central peak the highest and an east peak about away at...

     4368 metres (14,331 ft) is the second highest summit in PNG it is also the highest volcanic peak in Oceania.


Another major habitat feature is the vast southern and northern lowlands. Stretching for hundreds of kilometres, these include lowland rainforest
Rainforest
Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with definitions based on a minimum normal annual rainfall of 1750-2000 mm...

s, extensive wetlands, savanna
Savanna
A savanna, or savannah, is a grassland ecosystem characterized by the trees being sufficiently small or widely spaced so that the canopy does not close. The open canopy allows sufficient light to reach the ground to support an unbroken herbaceous layer consisting primarily of C4 grasses.Some...

 grasslands, and some of the largest expanses of mangrove
Mangrove
Mangroves are various kinds of trees up to medium height and shrubs that grow in saline coastal sediment habitats in the tropics and subtropics – mainly between latitudes N and S...

 forest in the world. The southern lowlands are the site of Lorentz National Park
Lorentz National Park
Lorentz National Park is located in the Indonesian province of Papua, formerly known as Irian Jaya . With an area of 25,056 km² , it is the largest national park in South-East Asia...

, also a UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

.

The Sepik, Mamberamo
Mamberamo River
The Mamberamo is a large river on the island of New Guinea, in the Indonesian province of Papua. It is the widest river in Indonesia.The source of the river is formed from the confluences of its upper tributaries, the Tariku and Taritatu Rivers...

, Fly
Fly River
The Fly at , is the second longest river, after the Sepik, in Papua New Guinea. The Fly is the largest river in Oceania, the largest in the world without a single dam in its catchment, and overall ranks as the twenty-fifth largest river in the world by volume of discharge...

, and Digul
Digul River
The Digul is a major river in southern Papua province, Indonesia, on the island of New Guinea.The swamplands upstream were known by the name "Boven Digul" and hosted a penal colony at Tanahmerah in the early 20th century, when Indonesia was a colony of Holland...

 rivers are the island's major river systems that drain in roughly northeast, northwest, southeast, and southwest directions respectively. Many of these rivers have broad areas of meander and result in large areas of lake
Lake
A lake is a body of relatively still fresh or salt water of considerable size, localized in a basin, that is surrounded by land. Lakes are inland and not part of the ocean and therefore are distinct from lagoons, and are larger and deeper than ponds. Lakes can be contrasted with rivers or streams,...

s and freshwater swamps.

New Guinea contains many of the world’s ecosystem types: glacial, alpine tundra
Alpine tundra
Alpine tundra is a natural region that does not contain trees because it is at high altitude. Alpine tundra is distinguished from arctic tundra, because alpine soils are generally better drained than arctic soils...

, savanna
Savanna
A savanna, or savannah, is a grassland ecosystem characterized by the trees being sufficiently small or widely spaced so that the canopy does not close. The open canopy allows sufficient light to reach the ground to support an unbroken herbaceous layer consisting primarily of C4 grasses.Some...

, montane
Montane
In biogeography, montane is the highland area located below the subalpine zone. Montane regions generally have cooler temperatures and often have higher rainfall than the adjacent lowland regions, and are frequently home to distinct communities of plants and animals.The term "montane" means "of the...

 and lowland rainforest, mangrove
Mangrove
Mangroves are various kinds of trees up to medium height and shrubs that grow in saline coastal sediment habitats in the tropics and subtropics – mainly between latitudes N and S...

s, wetland
Wetland
A wetland is an area of land whose soil is saturated with water either permanently or seasonally. Wetlands are categorised by their characteristic vegetation, which is adapted to these unique soil conditions....

s, lake and river ecosystems, seagrass
Seagrass
Seagrasses are flowering plants from one of four plant families , all in the order Alismatales , which grow in marine, fully saline environments.-Ecology:...

es, and some of the richest coral reef
Coral reef
Coral reefs are underwater structures made from calcium carbonate secreted by corals. Coral reefs are colonies of tiny living animals found in marine waters that contain few nutrients. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, which in turn consist of polyps that cluster in groups. The polyps...

s on the planet.

External links