Papua New Guinea



New Guinea is the second-largest island in the world. Its indigenous population is made up of Papuan and Melanesian peoples who developed an astonishing array of languages and tribes, generally hostile to one another. The Dutch, British, and Germans divided the island in the 1800s. Germany lost its portion as a consequence of World War I after Australia occupied it in 1914. Following the war, the League of Nations gave Australia a mandate to administer the region. Several occupation attempts were made by Japan in 1942 were of only limited success and Japan was completely ousted by the Allies in 1944. The nascent United Nations turned the once-British and German colonies into mandated territory under Australian administration in 1949. Self-governing since 1973, and fully-independent since 1975, Papua New Guinea remains closely tied to Australia but its own government has had to face some rough patches since independence, including (since 1989) a rebellion on the island of Bougainville.