Papua New Guinea History

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History[edit | edit source]

At the national level, after being ruled by three external powers since 1884, Papua New Guinea established its sovereignty in 1975. This followed nearly 60 years of Australian administration, which started during World War I. It became an independent Commonwealth realm in 1975 with Elizabeth II as its queen. It also became a member of the Commonwealth of Nations in its own right.

Papua New Guinea is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. It is also one of the most rural, as only 18 per cent of its people live in urban centres. There are 852 known languages in the country, of which 12 now have no known living speakers. Most of the population of more than 8 million people lives in customary communities, which are as diverse as the languages. The country is one of the world's least explored, culturally and geographically.

Papua New Guinea is classified as a developing economy by the International Monetary Fund. Strong growth in Papua New Guinea's mining and resource sector led to the country becoming the sixth-fastest-growing economy in the world in 2011. Growth was expected to slow once major resource projects came on line in 2015. Mining remains a major economic factor, however. Local and national governments are discussing the potential of resuming mining operations at the Panguna mine in Bougainville Province, which has been closed since the civil war in the 1980s–1990s. Nearly 40 per cent of the population lives a self-sustainable natural lifestyle with no access to global capital.[18]

Most of the people still live in strong traditional social groups based on farming. Their social lives combine traditional religion with modern practices, including primary education. These societies and clans are explicitly acknowledged by the Papua New Guinea Constitution, which expresses the wish for "traditional villages and communities to remain as viable units of Papua New Guinean society" and protects their continuing importance to local and national community life.

Timeline[edit | edit source]

1526 - European discovery of Papua New Guinea by Portuguese explorer Dom Jorge de Meneses
1883 - Queensland, Australia annexed the southern part of the island of New Guinea, later called Papua
1884 - Germany took control of the northwest part of New Guinea and nearby islands
1914 - World War I Australian troops captured German New Guinea including the nearby associated islands
1942 - 1945 World War II Japanese and Allied forces fight over Bougainville, New Britain, and New Guinea
1949 - The two Australian controlled eastern territories of Papua, and New Guinea were combined in a single trust territory. The western side of the island remained part of Indonesia.
1975 - Papua New Guinea was granted independence
1975 - The Bougainville uprising began decades of secessionist strife and civil war. This resulted in the closing of the economically important, but environmentally harmful Panguna copper mine

References[edit | edit source]