Human remains have been found in Papua New Guinea that date back to about 50,000 years ago. These ancient inhabitants of Papua New Guinea probably had their origins in Southeast Asia, themselves originating in Africa 50,000 to 70,000 years ago.
New Guinea (as it used to be known), one of the first landmasses after Africa and Eurasia to be populated by modern humans, had its first migration at about the same time as Australia.
Agriculture was independently developed in the New Guinea highlands around 7,000 BC, making it one of the few areas of original plant domestication in the world. A major migration of Austronesia speaking peoples came to coastal regions roughly 2,500 years ago, along with the introduction of pottery, pigs, and certain fishing techniques.
Some 300 years ago, the sweet potato entered New Guinea with its far higher crop yields transforming traditional agriculture. It largely supplanted the previous staple, taro, and gave rise to a significant increase in population in the highlands.
In the past, headhunting and cannibalism occurred in many parts of what is now named Papua New Guinea. By the early 1950s, through administration and mission pressures, open cannibalism had almost entirely ceased.
Europeans to sight Papua New Guinea first were probably Portuguese and Spanish navigators sailing in the South Pacific in the early 16th century. The principal island of Papua New Guinea was discovered around 1526-27 by Don Jorge de Meneses. Although European navigators visited and explored the Papua New Guinea islands for the next 170 years, little was known of the Papua New Guinea inhabitants until the late 19th century.
The northern half of the country came into German hands in 1884 as German New Guinea. With Europe's growing need for coconut oil, Godeffroy's of Hamburg, the largest trading firm in the Pacific, began trading for copra in the New Guinea Islands. In 1884, Germany formally took possession of the northeast quarter of the island and put its administration in the hands of a chartered company. In 1899, the German imperial government assumed direct control of the territory, thereafter known as German New Guinea. In 1914, Australian troops occupied German New Guinea, and it remained under Australian military control until 1921. The British Government, on behalf of the Commonwealth of Australia, assumed a mandate from the League of Nations for governing the Territory of New Guinea in 1920. That mandate was administered by the Australian Government until the Japanese invasion in December 1941 brought about its suspension. Following the surrender of the Japanese in 1945, civil administration of Papua as well as New Guinea was restored, and under the Papua New Guinea Provisional Administration Act, 1945-46, Papua and New Guinea were combined in an administrative union to become the country of Papua New Guinea.
On November 6, 1884, a British protectorate was proclaimed over the southern coast of New Guinea (the area called Papua) and its adjacent islands. The protectorate, called British New Guinea, was annexed outright on September 4, 1888. The possession was placed under the authority of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1902. Following the passage of the Papua Act of 1905, British New Guinea became the Territory of Papua, and formal Australian administration began in 1906. Papua was administered under the Papua Act until the Japanese invaded the northern parts of the islands in 1941 and began to advance on Port Moresby and civil administration was suspended. During the war, Papua was governed by a military administration from Port Moresby, where Gen. Douglas MacArthur occasionally made his headquarters. As noted, it was later joined in an administrative union with New Guinea during 1945-46 following the surrender of Japan, and Papua New Guinea was born.
Colonization of Papua New Guinea
During World War I, Papua New Guinea was occupied by Australia, which had begun administering British New Guinea, the southern part, as the re-named Papua in 1904. After World War I, Australia was given a mandate to administer the former German New Guinea by the League of Nations. Papua, by contrast, was deemed to be an External Territory of the Australian Commonwealth, though as a matter of law it remained a British possession, an issue which had significance for the country's post-Independence legal system after 1975. This difference in legal status meant that Papua and New Guinea had entirely separate administrations, both controlled by Australia.
The New Guinea campaign (1942-1945) was one of the major military campaigns of World War II. Approximately 216,000 Japanese, Australian and American soldiers, sailors and airmen died during the New Guinea Campaign. The two territories were combined into the Territory of Papua and New Guinea after World War II, which later was simply referred to as "Papua New Guinea". The Administration of Papua became open to United Nations oversight.
Looking at the Papua New Guinea map, we can see that it lies just south of the Equator and 160km to the north of Australia. With a total land mass of about 473.189sq.km, the country encompasses the eastern side of New Guinea Island - the second largest island in the world, plus some 600 other islands, atolls and coral reefs and more than 800 indigenous languages (tok ples), and is home to the largest area of intact rainforest outside of the amazon.
Vast tracts of the country are wild and undeveloped, with magnificent scenery that ranges from pristine coral atolls to volcanic mountains, dense tropical rainforest and large rivers. The mainland is divided by the Owen Stanley Range, a massive central spike with peaks towering over 4,000m. Great rivers begin their journey to the sea from these mountains, among them the mighty Sepik River, one of the world's longest waterways.
Beneath the mountain chain, fertile coastal plains, flooded delta regions and mangrove swamps exist alongside broad sandy beaches and sheltered bays. The rugged mountain terrain and deep cave systems offer wonderful adventure opportunities for walkers, cavers and climbers. There is canoeing, kayaking and fishing on the river and delta system. PNG also enjoys some of the world's best diving, around its warm coastal waters, with striking coral reefs around the mainland coast and the islands of the Bismarck Sea and the Milne Bay area.
Made up of four provinces – East Sepik, Madang, Morobe and West Sepik, this region takes in the second largest city of the nation, Lae, which is the capital of Morobe Province. Lae is situated at the beginning of the Highlands Highway, the main transport corridor to the coast. On the outskirts of Lae are wonderful rainforests, and in the city itself, a raft of shops, restaurants, cultural galleries, and Papua New Guinea tour agencies as well as hotel accommodation options.
The East Sepik province produces cocoa, coffee, copra and sugar, while Madang is the country’s second largest producer of cattle. With its tropical humid climate, normally between 24 and 32 degrees Celsius, it is envied by many around the country.
Located in the north east of Papua New Guinea, the Islands Region comprises Bismarck Archipelago and North Solomon Islands and is the least densely inhabited region with a population of 750,000 (14% of PNG). It is distinct through its history portrayed by its Austronesian languages and archaeological findings of Lapita pottery culture.
Administratively, the region is divided into five provinces – East New Britain, Manus, New Ireland, Bougainville and West New Britain.
This region offers a raft of sea and land experiences – snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, walking, climbing, fishing, shopping, arts and crafts.
For a unique experience in Papua New Guinea, travel to this fascinating region. With white sandy beaches this untouched land of beautiful tropical islands and rich culture offers an amazing experience.
To the north lies the Highlands Region, an east-west zone of mountains with elevations in excess of 13,000 feet (4,000 meters). This region has five provinces – Southern Highlands, Enga Province, Western Highlands, Simbu and Eastern Highlands.
With its fertile valleys and rugged mountains, the Highlands Region is Papua New Guinea’s most densely populated region. The Mt Wilhelm region is a popular Papua New Guinea trekking area endorsed by the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority. It is known for its coffee plantations, cultural diversity and beautiful orchids, as well as being home to many rare animals, insects and birds, including the birds of paradise.
Early visitors to the Southern Highlands, the last of the Papua New Guinea regions to be explored, described this region as the Papuan Wonderland. More than 700 Papua New Guinea cultures have been identified in this region, each with their own unique traditions.
Human habitation is estimated to have begun around 45,000 years ago in this region. Today this region has a population of 3 million comprising Papuans, Melanesians and Austronesians with the official language being English.
This region is made up of Central Province, Gulf Province, Milne Bay Province, National Capital District, Northern Province and Western Province. A hot humid climate exists for most of the year, except in the mountains, and with some variation in the northeast monsoon season.
In the National Capital District, Port Moresby is Papua New Guinea’s capital and the main entry point for international travel visitors.
Offering a vast range of Papua New Guinea tours and adventures, there are botanical gardens, museums, art galleries, markets and government buildings to explore. Papua New Guinea culture and history tours offer a rich and enchanting experience of this fascinating land