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Monday 23rd October
Papua New Guinea Facts
The highest point in the Independent State of Papua New Guinea is Mount Wilhelm (4,509 m).

Papua New Guinea consists of the eastern half of the island of New Guinea, the islands of New Britain, New Ireland, Bougainville and around six hundred smaller islands, north of Australia.

The island of New Guinea is shared with Indonesia (Papua, former Irian Jaya).

New Guinea is one of the largest islands in the world.

The people of Papua New Guinea are very diverse. Over five and a half million people speak around seven hundred languages.

The Kuk Early Agricultural Site, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2008, consists of swamps in the highlands of New Guinea. It has been discovered that the land has been drained, possibly for as long as ten thousand years. Evidence of agriculture dates back six and a half thousand years.

Portuguese navigators are said to be the first Europeans to have sighted the island of New Guinea.

The island of New Guinea was named after the country of Guinea in Africa.

Inigo Ortiz de Retes, the Spanish explorer, visited the island in 1546.

The island of Bougainville was named after Louis Antoine de Bougainville, the French navigator (1768).

In 1873 Port Moresby was named by Captain John Moresby after his father, Sir Fairfax Moresby, an Admiral of the British Royal Navy.

In 1884 the eastern part of New Guinea was divided between the United Kingdom and Germany.

Responsibility for the British and German Territories of New Guinea passed to Australia in the early part of the twentieth century.

During the Second World War Japanese forces occupied parts of the Territories (1942).

In 1949 Australia established joint administration over the Territories, the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.

PNGAA, the Papua New Guinea Australia Association, was founded in 1950 by people associated with the administration of Papua New Guinea. The Association maintains an interest in contemporary and historical events in Papua New Guinea.

In 1971 the Territory of Papua and New Guinea was renamed Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea gained full independence from Australia in September 1975.

The Independent State of Papua New Guinea became a member of the Commonwealth in 1975.

The Head of State of of Papua New Guinea is the monarch of the United Kingdom.

In 1989 an armed struggle began on the island of Bougainville as islanders wanted to secede from Papua New Guinea. A Truce was established in 1997 and a peace-keeping group, with troops from New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and Vanuatu, was stationed on the island until the ceasefire was signed in 1998.

In 1997 a national state of disaster was declared following a drought thought to have been caused by El Nino.

Papua New Guinea is part of the Ring of Fire, a zone where frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions take place.

Three thousand people died in 1998 when three tsunamis hit the north-west coast.

At the end of 2000 it was announced that it was necessary to relocate people living on the Duke of York atoll as the island was slowly sinking below the sea.

Eruptions from volcanoes on the islands affected or displaced fifteen thousand people between October 2004 and June 2005.

The Melanesian countries of Fiji, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands belong to the Melanesian Spearhead Group, a Free Trade Area Agreement.

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