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New Guinea
New guinea named.PNG
Political division of New Guinea
Location Melanesia
Coordinates 5°20′S 141°36′E / 5.333°S 141.6°E / -5.333; 141.6Coordinates: 5°20′S 141°36′E / 5.333°S 141.6°E / -5.333; 141.6
Area 786,000 km²(303,500 mi sq) (2nd)
Highest point Puncak Jaya (4,884 m (16,023 ft))
Provinces Papua
West Papua
Papua New Guinea
Provinces Central
Eastern Highlands
East Sepik
Southern Highlands
Western Highlands
West Sepik
Milne Bay
National Capital District
Population ~ 7.5 million (as of 2005)
Density 8 /km2 (21 /sq mi)
Ethnic groups Papuan and Austronesian

New Guinea, located immediately north of Australia in the Southwest Pacific, is the world's second largest island. It became separated from the Australian mainland when the area now known as the Torres Strait flooded after the last glacial period. The name Papua has long been associated with the island. The western half of the island contains the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua, while the eastern half forms the mainland of the independent country of Papua New Guinea.


Political divisions

The island of New Guinea is divided politically into roughly equal halves across a north-south line:

  • The western portion of the island located west of 141°E longitude, (except for a small section of territory to the east of the Fly River which belongs to Papua New Guinea) was formerly a Dutch colony and is now incorporated into Indonesia as the provinces:
  • West Papua with Manokwari as its capital.
  • Papua with the city of Jayapura as its capital. A proposal to split this province into Central Papua (Papua Tengah) and East Papua (Papua Timur) has not been implemented.
(See also Western New Guinea, which refers to the entire western half of New Guinea)

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


Dani tribesman in the Baliem Valley

The current population of the island of New Guinea is about 7.1 million people. Many believe human habitation on the island has been dated to as early as approximately 40,000 B.C.[1], 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 languages, which makes New Guinea the most linguistically diverse area in the world. Ethnologue 14th edition lists 826 languages of Papua New Guinea and 257 languages of Irian Jaya, total 1073 languages, with 12 languages overlapping. They fall into one of two groups, the Papuan languages and the Austronesian languages. The separation was not merely linguistic; warfare 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-based trade between the groups and pig-based feasts are a common theme with the other peoples of southeast Asia and Oceania. Most societies practise agriculture, supplemented by hunting and gathering.

Kurulu Village War Chief at Baliem Valley

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 and Austronesian groups.[2]

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, approx 21,000 years ago) when the island was connected to the Australian continent via a land bridge, forming the landmass known as Sahul. These peoples had made the (shortened) sea-crossing from the islands of Wallacea and Sundaland (the present Malay Archipelago) by at least 40,000 years ago, subsequent to the dispersal of peoples from Africa (circa) 50,000 - 70,000 years ago.[citation needed]

Korowai tribesman

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, possibly originating in eastern China. Austronesian-speaking peoples colonized many of the offshore islands to the north and east of New Guinea, such as New Ireland and New Britain, 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 colonisation. This process has been accelerated by the transmigration programs and conscious policies enacted by successive Indonesian governments, which over recent decades has encouraged the resettlement of as many as one million immigrants to western New Guinea, predominantly from the islands of Java, Madura, and Bali.

Large swathes of New Guinea are yet to be explored by scientists and anthropologists. The province of Irian Jaya or West Papua is home to an estimated 44 uncontacted tribal groups.[3]

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 ecological value in terms of biodiversity, with between 5 to 10% of the total species on the planet. This percentage is about the same amount as the United States or Australia. A high percentage of New Guinea's species are endemic (found nowhere else), 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 most species of birds of paradise and bowerbirds, parrots, and cassowaries; over 400 amphibians; 455 butterfly species; marsupials and monotremes including Bondegezou, Goodfellow's Tree-kangaroo, Huon Tree-kangaroo, Long-beaked Echidna, Tenkile, Agile Wallaby, Alpine Wallaby, cuscuses and possums; 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.

The Western Crowned Pigeon is native to New Guinea.

Biogeographically, New Guinea is part of Australasia rather than the Indomalayan 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, a floristic region that extends from the Malay Peninsula across Indonesia to New Guinea and the East Melanesian Islands. The flora of New Guinea is a mixture of many tropical rainforest species with origins in Asia, together with typically Australasian flora. Typical southern hemisphere flora include the conifers Podocarpus and the rainforest emergents Araucaria and Agathis, as well as tree ferns and several species of Eucalyptus.

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.




According to the WWF, New Guinea can be divided into twelve terrestrial ecoregions: [4]


The WWF and Nature Conservancy divide New Guinea into five freshwater ecoregions:[5]


The WWF and Nature Conservancy identify several marine ecoregions in the seas bordering New Guinea:[6]


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.[7]

The gardens of the New Guinea Highlands are ancient, intensive permacultures, 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.[8] There is evidence that New Guinea gardeners invented crop rotation well before western Europeans.[9] A unique feature of New Guinea permaculture is the silviculture of Casuarina oligodon, a tall, sturdy native ironwood tree, suited to use for timber and fuel, with root nodules that fix nitrogen. Pollen studies 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, who had spread down from Taiwan, through the south-east Asian archipelago, 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.

The first European contact with New Guinea was by Portuguese and/or Spanish 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. Ploeg[10] 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 phrase sup i papwa which means 'the land below [the sunset]' and refers to the islands west of the Bird's Head, as far as Halmahera.

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.

In 1545 the Spaniard Yñigo Ortiz de Retez 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'.

New Guinea from 1884-1919. The Netherlands controlled the western half of New Guinea, Germany the north-eastern part, and Britain controlled the south-eastern part.

The first European claim occurred in 1828, when the Netherlands formally claimed the western half of the island as Netherlands New Guinea. In 1883, following a short-lived French annexation of New Ireland, the British colony of Queensland annexed south-eastern New Guinea. However, the Queensland government's superiors in the United Kingdom revoked the claim, and (formally) assumed direct responsibility in 1884, when Germany claimed north-eastern New Guinea as the protectorate of German New Guinea (also styled Kaiser-Wilhelmsland). 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.

Both the Dutch and the British tried to suppress warfare and headhunting 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, Australian forces seized German New Guinea, which in 1920 became the Territory of New Guinea, a League of Nations mandated 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 discovered the Grand Valley of the Baliem River which had 50,000 yet-undiscovered Stone Age farmers living in orderly villages. The people, known as the Dani, were the last society of its size to make first contact with the rest of the world.[11]

Netherlands New Guinea and the Australian territories were invaded in 1942 by the Japanese. 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 of World War II. Papuans often gave vital assistance to the Allies, 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.

Map of New Guinea, with place names as used in English in the 1940s

During the 1950s the Dutch government began to prepare Netherlands New Guinea for full independence and allowed elections in 1959; an elected Papuan council, the New Guinea Council (Nieuw Guinea Raad) took office on 5 April 1961. The Council decided on the name of West Papua, a national emblem, a flag called the Morning Star or Bintang Kejora, and a national anthem; the flag was first raised — next to the Dutch flag — on 1 December 1961. However, Indonesia threatened with an invasion, after full mobilisation of its army, by 15 August 1962, after receiving military help from the Soviet Union. Under strong pressure of the United States government (under the Kennedy administration) the Dutch, who were prepared to resist an Indonesian attack, attended diplomatic talks. On 1 October 1962, the Dutch handed over the territory to a temporary UN administration (UNTEA). On 1 May 1963, Indonesia took control. The territory was renamed West Irian and then Irian Jaya. In 1969 Indonesia, under the 1962 New York Agreement, was required to organise a plebiscite to seek the consent of the Papuans for Indonesian rule. This so called Act of Free Choice (Pepera) resulted, under strong threats and intimidations of the Indonesian military, in a 100% vote for continued Indonesian rule.

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 has estimated more than 100,000 Papuans, one-sixth of the population, have died as a result of government-sponsored violence against West Papuans,[12] while others had previously specified much higher death tolls.[13]

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.

In 2000, Irian Jaya was formally renamed "The Province of Papua" and a large measure of "special autonomy" was granted in 2001. This law on special autonomy, however, was never implemented. On the contrary, at the beginning of 2003 President Megawati Sukarnoputri announced the division of the province into three parts, while the name "Papua" for the province would again revert to Irian. With strong public protest by Papuans, the matter was referred to the Indonesian courts, who declared it to be unconstitutional and in contravention of the Papua's special autonomy agreement. By that point though, the western part had already been administratively separated from the rest and the central and eastern parts were almost separated. The court blocked the second separation on the grounds listed above but the previous division into two provinces was allowed to stand as an established fact. (King, 2004, p. 91) The western part became the province of West Irian Jaya, with Manokwari as its capital and covering the Bird's Head Peninsula. In 2005 a new proposal came from Jakarta to split the province into five provinces. This plan has not yet been implemented.


Topographical map of New Guinea.

A central east-west mountain range dominates the geography of New Guinea, over 1600 km in total length. The western half of the island of New Guinea contains the highest mountains in Oceania, rising up to 4884 m high, and ensuring a steady supply of rain from the equatorial atmosphere. The tree line is around 4000 m elevation and the tallest peaks contain permanent equatorial glaciers — which have been retreating since at least 1936 [14][15][16] due to a changing climate. 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, sometimes known by its former Dutch name Carstensz Pyramid, is a mist covered limestone mountain peak on the Indonesian side of the border. At 4,884 metres (16,023 ft), Puncak Jaya makes New Guinea the world's fourth highest landmass.
  • Puncak Trikora also in Papua is 4,750 metres (15,584 ft).
  • Mount Wilhelm is the highest peak on the PNG side of the border at 4,509 metres. Its granite peak is the highest point of the Bismarck Range.
  • Mount Giluwe 4,368 metres 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 rainforests, extensive wetlands, savanna grasslands, and some of the largest expanses of mangrove forest in the world. The southern lowlands are the site of Lorentz National Park, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Sepik, Mamberamo, Fly, and Digul 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 lakes and freshwater swamps.

New Guinea contains many of the world’s ecosystem types: glacial, alpine tundra, savanna, montane and lowland rainforest, mangroves, wetlands, lake and river ecosystems, seagrasses, and some of the richest coral reefs on the planet.


  1. ^ Groube, Chappell, et al., Letter to Nature Dec 1986
  2. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica Online [1]
  3. ^ First contact with isolated tribes?
  4. ^ Wikramanayake, Eric; Eric Dinerstein; Colby J. Loucks; et al. (2002). Terrestrial Ecoregions of the Indo-Pacific: a Conservation Assessment. Island Press; Washington, DC
  5. ^ Abell, Robin, Michele L. Thieme, et al. (2008). "Freshwater Ecoregions of the World: A New Map of Biogeographic Units for Freshwater Biodiversity Conservation". Bioscience" May 2008 / Vol. 58 No. 5, pgs. 403-414
  6. ^ Spalding, Mark D., Helen E. Fox, Gerald R. Allen, Nick Davidson et al. "Marine Ecoregions of the World: A Bioregionalization of Coastal and Shelf Areas". Bioscience Vol. 57 No. 7, July/August 2007, pp. 573-583. [2]
  7. ^
  8. ^ Diamond, Jared. Collapse. (German translation), Frankfurt 2005, p. 350.
  9. ^ Diamond, Jared. Collapse. (German translation), Frankfurt 2005, p. 351.
  10. ^ Ploeg, Anton. 2002. '"De Papoea" What's in a name?'. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 3(1), pp.75-101
  11. ^ Diamond, Jared. The Third Chimpanzee. Harper Collins, 1993
  12. ^ Report claims secret genocide in Indonesia - University of Sydney
  13. ^ West Papua Support
  14. ^ Prentice, M.L. and G.S. Hope (2006). "Climate of Papua". Ch. 2.3 in Marshall, A.J., and Beehler, B.M. (eds.). The Ecology of Papua. Singapore: Periplus Editions. The authors note that "The magnitude of the recession of the Carstenz Glaciers, it's causes, and its implications for local, regional, and global climate change are only qualitatively known."
  15. ^ [ Kincaid and Kline, "Retreat of the Irian Jaya Glaciers from 2000 to 2002 as Measured from IKONOS Satellite Images", paper presented at 61st Eastern Snow Conference, Portland, Maine, 2004]
  16. ^ Recent Global Glacier Retreat Overview

See also

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

New Guinea is the second largest non-continental island in the world (the largest is Greenland), situated to the north of Australia.

It is has a north-south border, that divides the island into east and west divisions.

The east:

The west:

  • Papua - the Indonesian half of the island, formerly Irian Jaya
This article is a disambiguation page. If you arrived here by following a link from another page you can help by correcting it, so that it points to the appropriate disambiguated page.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

NEW GUINEA, the largest island (excluding Australia) in the world, lying between the equator and 12° S. and 130° 50' and 151° 30' E., separated from Australia by Torres Strait and having the Arafura Sea on the south-west. It is divided politically between Britain (south-east), Germany (north-east) and Holland (west), the Dutch territory occupying about 48.6% of the whole area, the German 28.3% and the British Territory of Papua 23-1%. The total area is estimated to be 312,329 sq. m.

New Guinea was probably in Miocene times, if not later, united to the northern part of Queensland. The deeply indented shore of the Gulf of Papua forms the boundary of the subsided area between the two countries, and from it the land stretches out for 200 to 300 m. north and west on both sides of the Fly river in vast plains, little elevated above sea-level. From Cape Buru westwards precipitous limestone cliffs, several hundred feet high, face the sea and rise into forest-clad mountains behind. The northern extremity of New Guinea is all but severed from the mainland by the deep MacCluer Inlet, running eastwards towards Geelvink Bay which deeply indents the northern coast. Southwards from Geelvink Bay the north-east coast is more regular than the south-western. Off its coast-line, on the parallel of 6° S., lies the vast Bismarck Archipelago, of which New Pomerania (Neu Pommern) is the most important member; and, on the parallel of io, the d'Entrecasteaux Islands, with the Marshall Bennett group to their north-east; while stretching out from the south-east promontory of the mainland is the Louisiade Archipelago. The Great Barrier Reef of Australia can be traced more or less continuously round the Gulf of Papua and along the south-east coast to the extremity of the Louisiades. In a general way it may be said that on the west coast of New Guinea, from Cape Buru to the Louisiades, the sea is shallow, while on its steeper eastern side the water close in-shore is often too deep .Commerson Is. IVinigo (L'fchiqu'er) + Anacoretos Admiralty Z r. t Sa?? '. P .1... :?. ... _.. '?,' ??},...

? r  ? ?to 9 Frederic  ? / (? for safe anchorage. The islands on the southern margin of the Louisiade Archipelago are raised coral reefs, but the majority are mountainous, rarely, however, exceeding 3000 ft.; all of them are richly forested, but of little agricultural value. The volcanic d'Entrecasteaux Islands are mostly larger, more elevated (the highest being 8000 ft.), and stand in deeper water than the Louisiade group. To the east of Kiriwina (Trobriand) lies a small group of uniquely formed islets, each of which is completely surrounded by a steep forest-clad marginal rampart of coral 300 to 400 ft. high, concealing a depressed inhabited central plateau.

Starting in the southern extremity of New Guinea from an abrupt face some 3000 ft. high, and traversing its centre nearly parallel to both coasts, run high ranges of mountains, which, if not continuous, merge into each other in the same general direction. The Owen Stanley range - its highest summit, named by Huxley in 1850 Mount Owen Stanley, 13,120 ft. - the Albert Victor Mountains, the Sir Arthur Gordon range, and the Bismarck Mountains form a backbone united probably with the Sneeuw (Snowy) Mts., where perpetual snow was found by Dr. Lorentz in 1909 at 14,635 ft., and the height of Mt. Wilhelmina was fixed at 15,580 ft. This height may be exceeded by Mt. Carstensz. Other ranges, mostly of lower altitude, run parallel mainly to the east and west coasts. The most important and best-known rivers are the Amberno, in the north, discharging by a wide delta at Point d'Urville; the Kaiserin Augusta, which, rising in the Charles Louis range, and entering the Pacific near Cape della Torre, is navigable by ocean steamers for 180 m.; the Ottilien, a river of great length, which discharges into the sea a short distance south of the last named; and the Mambare, navigable by steam-launch for 50 m. which drains the eastern aspect of Wasigororo Mountains and enters the sea near the Anglo-German boundary. Below 8° S. the narrowness of the country precludes the existence of any very important rivers on either coast. The Purari, however, whose delta is 20 m. long by 20 broad, is navigable for 120 m. by steam-launch, while the Fly has been traversed by the same means for Soo and by a whale-boat for over 600 m. The latter drains an enormous tract of country, which is so little elevated above the sea-level that it can never be of any agricultural or commercial value. West of 141° E. the geographical features of the coast, except in the region of MacCluer Inlet and Geelvink Bay, are very little known, and those of the interior even less.

Table of contents


The geology of British New Guinea is best known from the report of A. Gibb Maitland (Ann. Rep., British New Guinea, 1891-1892; Part. Papers, Queensland, 1893, C.A. 1.53-85, with 3 maps and 3 plates; bibliography, p. 85), which shows that the axis of the territory is a high range, composed of slates and schists of undetermined age, with intrusive plutonic rocks. In the district around Port Glasgow, on the south coast of the eastern peninsula, are the Boioro limestones, also of unknown age; they are lead-coloured, brecciated limestones with interbedded dolerites. Some Cretaceous or Upper Jurassic rocks occur in the basin of the Fly river. The Port Moresby beds are Cainozoic. They are highly inclined, and occupy a large range of country along the south coast, and include the Macgillivray Range, to the north-east of Beagle Bay. They are marine and probably Miocene; and range up to the height of 800 ft. above the sea, approximately the same limit as in Victoria. The Kevori grits, and the raised coral reefs are upper Cainozoic, and perhaps Pleistocene; but the reefs occur inland up to a height of 2000 ft. and their range back in time has not been fixed. The volcanic series include the rhyolite of Nell Island, some obsidian, and the sheets of basalts which form the Cloudy Mountains, Mount Dayman and Mount Trafalgar (an active volcano), and also cover wide areas to the south and west of the Owen Stanley Range. Most of western British New Guinea consists of recent superficial deposits, in the basin of the Fly river. The Louisiade and the d'Entrecasteaux Islands consist of the same slates and schists as form the main axis of the eastern peninsula, and they are auriferous. The geology of the rest of New Guinea is imperfectly known. It appears to consist in the main of a continuation of an axis of old schists and slates, with granite intrusions, and flanked by coastal plains with Cretaceous or Jurassic, and Miocene beds, with Pleistocene sands and reefs and volcanic rocks. In the north-west coal deposits occur. Fergusson Island clearly shows remains of extinct craters, and possesses numerous hot springs, saline lakes and solfataras depositing sulphur and alum. In Murua (Woodlark I.) are quarries of the banded quartzite from which the best stone adzes found throughout south-east New Guinea are made. In Rossel Island (Roua or Arova) occur crystalline schistose and volcanic rocks, and in Misima (St Aignan) limestones and lavas in addition. Nearly all the rivers in New Guinea yield " colours " of gold, but only in the Louisiade Archipelago has enough been discovered to constitute the district a goldfield. No auriferous reefs have been found. Black magnetic iron sand covers the shore in Milne Bay. Coal has been observed in the Purari sandstones. In the Gira river the valuable alloy osmiridium has been discovered. Earthquakes are rare on the mainland, but not infrequent in Bismarck and d'Entrecasteaux archipelagos.


Since the mountains as a rule traverse the island parallel to its coasts, the eastern shores have far less rain than the western. The amount which falls, chiefly at night, varies from 30 in. on some parts of the coast to 130 at others, and to a far greater but unknown amount in the mountains. Throughout the dry or cool season the wind blows steadily and almost uninterruptedly (except for an hour or so forenoon and afternoon) from the south-east. The temperature has an extreme range of from 72° to 95° F., with a mean of about 80°. At an elevation of 3000 ft. the climate is pleasantly cool; at 13,000 ft. ice forms in the night, but disappears with the heat of the sun. No snow is known certainly to fall, though it is alleged to have been seen from the sea lying on the summits of the Charles Louis range. Fever is very prevalent on the coasts, and even in the interior at 2000 ft. above the sea. Though generally of a mild character, it is persistently recurrent, and slowly saps and wears out the constitution; too often it is virulent and rapidly fatal.


New Guinea shares in the poverty in mammals of the Australian sub-region. Monotremes (2 species) and marsupials (4 families and 44 species) predominate, but are not abundant. Among the latter two genera, Distaechurus and Dorcopsis, are peculiar. A pig (Sus papuensis), a dingo, several species of mice (of which Chiruromys is a peculiar genus), a few squirrels, and a considerable number of Chiroptera (bats) inhabit the country. The island is specially remarkable for the number and beauty of its birds. The most recent lists record over 500 species as found in the Papuan area, and of these between 50 and 60 genera are peculiar to it. The birds of paradise, which are confined to the sub-region, give special celebrity to its fauna. Between 70 and 80 species have already been described, many of them the most gorgeously adorned, and others, such as the Pteridophora albertisi, the most wonderful of feathered creatures. They are absent from the Louisiades, but species occur in the d'Entrecasteaux Islands which have not been seen on the mainland opposite. The zoology of the Bismarck Archipelago is little known. The species of birds so far described from it number 178 (referable to 38 families), of which 74 are peculiar to it, though closely allied to Papuan forms. It contains, however, no Paradiseidae. The Amphibia, to which the sea is a barrier, are almost exclusively of Australian affinities. Turtles and tortoises are plentiful on the coast. Ceratochelys insculpta of the Fly river, a chelonian peculiar to New Guinea, is remarkable in having its nearest affinities (as have the Papuan tortoises) with South American species. Of the lizards, 3 of the 6 species of Varanidae, 16 of the 30 Scincidae, 8 Geckonidae, and 8 out of the 11 Agamidae are peculiar. Salamanders, toads and frogs are numerous, and crocodiles abound. Only 4 genera and 5 species of snakes are peculiar to New Guinea, many of them poisonous. Butterflies, moths and bees are very abundant, the former being remarkable for their size and splendid coloration; but these groups have not been investigated exhaustively enough to afford a correct idea of their number or their true affinities. Although the list of Coleoptera already known is long, it represents only a fraction of the species remaining to be discovered. The land molluscs show relationship with the Indian and the Malayan sub-regions; but many forms have here their centre, and have spread hence into Australia and the Pacific islands.


Most of the foreshores of New Guinea are eucalyptusdotted grass lands; iri the interior dense forests prevail to a height of many thousand feet. Vast tracts of the country have been, however, deforested by fire, and these are covered by the tall ineradicable grass, Imperata arundinacea. So far the highest altitudes yet botanically investigated are those of the Owen Stanley range and the mountains in Kaiser Wilhelms Land, but of the flora of the highest range of all - the Charles Louis mountains - nothing is known. The vascular plants already described number about 1500 species. In the low and sub-mountainous lands the flora is a mixture of Malayan, Australian and Polynesian forms. There are, according to Muller, twice as many palms known from New Guinea as from Australia. The alpine flora, beginning at 6000 ft., is specially characterized by its rhododendrons, pines (Araucaria and Libocedrus), and palms, by numerous superb species of Agapetes (Ericaceae), and on the summits by an extraordinary association of species characteristically European (Rubus, Ranunculus, Leontodon, Aspidium), Himalayan, New Zealandian (Veronica), Antarctic and South American (Drymus, Libocedrus). Good pasture grasses are numerous, but pasture lands are limited. The usual tropical food-plants are cultivated. Tobacco has been found growing in the interior, and may be indigenous, as is in some districts the Kava pepper (Piper methysticum). At Dorey a cotton plant (G. vitifolium) grows wild, and is also cultivated.


So large an area of New Guinea remains unexplored that it is impossible, except approximately, to state the number of its inhabitants, but probably 600,000 is under rather than over the mark. The people are broken up into numerous isolated tribes differing greatly in feature, colour and language. Ethnically they belong as a whole to the Melanesian division of the Indo-Pacific races. The predominant tribe are the Papuans, who are found here in their greatest racial purity and occupy practically the whole island except its eastern extremity. The New Guinea native is usually of a negroid type with fine physique, but in the Arfak mountains in the north-west, and at points on the west and north coasts and adjacent islands, the very degraded and stunted Karons are found, with hardly the elements of social organization (possibly the aboriginal race unmixed with foreign elements), and resembling the Aetas or Negritos of the Philippines, and other kindred tribes in the Malay Archipelago. On the banks of the Fly river d'Albertis observed at least two widely differing types, those on its upper course bearing some resemblance to the tribes of the eastern coast. Here, wedged in among the ruder Papuans, who reappear at the extremity of the peninsula, a very different-looking people are found, whom competent observers, arguing from appearance, language and customs, assert to be a branch of the fair Polynesian race. But they are obviously of mixed blood. On the west coasts there is a semi-civilization, due to intercourse with Malays and Bugis, who have settled at various points, and carry on the trade with the neighbouring islands, in some of which, while the coast population is Malay or mixed, that of the interior is identical with the people of the mainland of New Guinea. On the west coasts Mahommedan teaching has also some civilizing effect. Many of the tribes at the west end of New Guinea are, at all events in war time, head-hunters, and in the mountains cannibals. Cannibalism, in fact, is practised here and there throughout New Guinea. The frequent hostility and mistrust of strangers are partly due to slavehunting raids and ill-treatment by traders, but the different tribes vary much in character. Thus in the mountains of the north-west the Karons live by plunder, or by disposal of slaves or bird skins; while their neighbours the Kebars are a peaceful agricultural people. The mountain tribes are usually despised by their coast neighbours, but in the south of west New Guinea the coast people live in perpetual terror of their inland neighbours.

At Humboldt Bay the people are ready to trade, as are the tribes at Astrolabe Bay; here the Russian Miklucho Maclay lived for some time, and was favourably impressed by the natives. Still farther east, the plateaus of the Finisterre ranges are highly cultivated and artificially irrigated by a comparatively fair people. Many tribes in the south-west seem to be migratory. At Princess Marianne Straits tribes much wilder than those farther west, naked and painted, swarm like monkeys in the trees, the stems of which are submerged at high tide. But the Torres Straits islanders are employed by Europeans in the pearl shell fishery, and are good labourers; and in some of the Kei and Aru Islands the Papuan inhabitants form orderly Christian communities. The people of the south-east peninsula are generally far from ferocious. Englishmen, wandering inland and losing their way, have been found and brought back by them. Their manners are more courteous, their women better treated, than is usual with Papuans, but they show perhaps less ingenuity and artistic taste. Their children, in the mission schools, show much intelligence.

Exploration and Annexation

Though probably sighted by Antonio d'Abreu, i 5 i 1, New Guinea was apparently first visited either by the Portuguese Don Jorge de Meneses, driven on his way from Goa to Ternate in 1526 to take shelter at " Isla Versija " (which has been identified with Warsia, a place on the N.W. coast, but may possibly be the island of Waigeu), or by the Spaniard Alvaro de Saavedra two years later. The name of " New Guinea " was probably given by Ortiz de Retez, or Roda, who in 1546 first laid down several points along the north coast. In the same and the two following centuries, though the coasts were visited by many illustrious navigators, as Willem Schouten and Jacob Lemaire, Abel Tasman, William Dampier, L. V. de Torres, L. A. de Bougainville and James Cook, little additional knowledge was gained. This was due first to the difficulties of the navigation, next to the exclusiveness of the Dutch, who, holding the Spice Islands, prevented all access to places east of them, and lastly to the stream of enterprise being latterly diverted to the more temperate regions farther south. The Dutch barrier was broken down by the arrival of Dampier and other " interlopers " from the east, and of emissaries from the (English) East India Company in search of spice-bearing lands. The voyage of Thomas Forrest (1774) in the " Tartar galley " of 10 tons, and his account of New Guinea (Voyage to New Guinea and the Moluccas, London, 1780), are still full of interest. New Guinea was actually annexed in 1793 by two commanders in the East India Company's service, and the island of Manasvari in Geelvink Bay was held for some months by their troops. After the peace of 1815 Dutch surveying expeditions to the west coasts became numerous, and in later times scientific explorers penetrated many of the unknown parts of Dutch New Guinea, such as A. R. Wallace (1856-1863), Odoardo Beccari (1871, 1875 and 1876), and Maria d'Albertis (1871-1878). Important expeditions were those of P. van der Crab, J. E. Teysmann, J. G. Coorengel, A. J. Langeveldt van Hemert and P. Swaan, undertaken for the Netherlands Indian government 1871-1872,1875-1876(reports published at The Hague in 1879); and of C. B. H. von Rosenberg in the Geelvink Bay districts in1869-1870(report published at The Hague in 1875). Subsequently to the visits of J. A. d'Entrecasteaux (1793) and Dumont d'Urville (1827-1840), the eastern coasts were surveyed by Captains F.P. Blackwood (1835).

Owen Stanley (1848), Charles B. Yule (1864), and other British officers, including J. Moresby (1874). Among other explorers in this period the following may be mentioned: Nicholas von Miklucho Maclay in 1870, 1877 and 1879-1881, in the Astrolabe Bay district, &c.; the missionary, Rev. S. Macfarlane (1875, Fly river, &c.); about1876-1880the north-east coasts and adjacent islands were explored by the Rev. G. Brown and by Wilfred Powell, and in 1882 Dr Otto Finsch, whose name is well known in connexion with scientific work in New Guinea, made valuable explorations in the neighbourhood of Port Moresby and the Loluki river.

The surveys and reports of Captain Moresby in 1874 brought home to Queensland (and Australia generally) the dangers possible to her commerce were the coasts opposite to Torres Strait and the entrance to the splendid waterway inside the Barrier Reef to fall into the possession of a foreign power. By authority, therefore, of Queensland, the mainland of New Guinea, opposite her shores east of the 141st meridian, was annexed to that colony in 1883. But this action was disallowed by the British government as Yule's and Moresby's had been. Finally, however, in 1884 a British protectorate was authoritatively proclaimed by Commodore Erskine over the region " lying between the 141st meridian eastward as far as East Cape, with the adjacent islands as far as Kosman Island." German New Guinea was annexed on the 16th of November 1884, when the German flag was raised in Friedrich Wilhelmshafen and a trading company was established on the north-east coast, and in 1885 the two countries agreed to fix their boundaries through the then neutral areas of the country. The result of this was the assignation to Great Britain of the portion now known as the Territory of Papua (British New Guinea), lying between the extreme limits of 5° and 12° S. and 141° and 155° E. To Germany were assigned all the territory and islands to the north of the British boundary under the name of Kaiser Wilhelms Land, while all to the west of the 141st meridian remained under its old flag as Dutch New Guinea.

Since this period explorers and investigators have been almost constantly at work. There may be mentioned the work of the Rev. J. Chalmers on the coast of the Gulf of Papua (1893), and of officers of the German New Guinea Company in the ship " Ysabel " on the coasts and among the islands of the German territory; the expedition which crossed the south-eastern peninsula from Huon Gulf of which both the leaders, O. Ehlers and M. Piering, lost their lives (1895), the important German expedition under C. Lauterbach (1896), and the various explorations carried out by or at the instigation of Sir William MacGregor, including a crossing of the island from the mouth of the Mambare river to that of the Vanapa, and a second crossing in the reverse direction (1897). Ethnographical researches have been prosecuted by Messrs C. G. Seligmann and W. Mersh Strong, and others. The reports of travellers and of various missionary societies have thrown a great deal of light on the natural history of the island, on its resources, and the islanders.

British New Guinea The British Territory of Papua has an area of about 90,540 sq. m. and a population estimated at 400,000, of whom about 600 are Europeans. The Protectorate, as declared in 1884, with its seat of government at Port Moresby, was subsidized by the three Australian colonies of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, and lasted, under the administration of two successive special commissioners (Major-General Sir Peter Scratchley and the Hon. John Douglas), till the 4th of September 1888, when it was proclaimed by the first Administrator - afterwards Lieutenant-Governor - Sir William MacGregor, a possession of Queen Victoria. Its constitution was that of a crown colony in association with Queensland; but in 1901 the federal government took control of the territory and in 1906 a proclamation by the governor-general of the commonwealth gave it the name of the Territory of Papua. The lieutenant-governor is aided by an executive and a legislative council, and advised by a native regulation board. Justice is administered by petty sessions in the six magisterial districts into which the possession is divided, with a central court at Port Moresby (which, however, sits elsewhere as necessary) having the jurisdiction of a supreme court, from which in certain cases an appeal lies to the supreme court of Queensland.

Order is maintained by an armed constabulary force, under a European officer, of about 180, almost all natives from different districts, whose members are found to be very efficient and trustworthy. The expenditure is about £38,000 annually, and the revenue, mainly derived from customs duties, is rapidly increasing. Only £5110 in 1895, it was £11,683 in 1899 and £ 1 9, 1 97 in 1905.

Commerce and Trade

The making of mats, fishing-nets, shell ornaments, decorated gourds, and stone implements, and the manufacture of pottery, canoes and sago, constitute the chief native industries, which are the subject of barter between different regions. European industries include gold mining, in which 500 miners, besides natives, are engaged (chiefly in the Louisiade Archipelago), and the beche de mer and pearl-shell fisheries, which were formerly more productive than at present. Copra is naturally largely prepared, as coco-nut palms are very numerous, and are extensively planted every year. A small amount of tortoise-shell is collected. The rubber industry is, according to Sir W. MacGregor, " important and promising." Species of Palaquium, the genus from which, in the Indian Archipelago, the best gutta-percha is obtained, occur on the hills, and from their cultivation there might in time be obtained a large revenue independently of European labour. Timber of economic value is scarce. Red cedar (Cedrilla) abounds in the riverine flats, but the quality is poor and commercially valueless; and oaks are plentiful, but the wood is coarse. Small quantities of ebony and sandal-wood are exported. " There can be no reasonable doubt that the sugar-cane, which is native and present in a great many varieties, sago, cotton, probably also indigenous and of exceptionally fine quality, will eventually be valuable " (MacGregor). The trade of British New Guinea is exclusively with the Australian colonies. Imports were valued at £72,286 in1899-1900(an increase of over £20, I Io in the year), and exports (including the gold mines) at £56,167, while in 1905 the figures were £67,188 for imports and £73,669 for exports, and in 1906 £79,671 and £80,290 respectively.

German New Guinea The German protectorate of New Guinea, so called after the island which contributes the greatest area, comprehends, besides Kaiser Wilhelms Land, the islands which are now commonly called the Bismarck Archipelago - viz. New Pomerania, New Mecklenburg, with New Hanover and the Admiralty Islands and the Solomon Islands (Bougainville and Buka). There are besides nearly 200 smaller islands and islets scattered among their greater neighbours. In 1884 New Guinea was absolutely wild, not a single white man living on what is now the German part. On the islands New Pomerania and Mioko only two trading firms had their establishments; and on New Lauenburg the Wesleyans had a mission station. After the annexation commercial enterprise set in at once, hand in hand with political administration. Now on the mainland and in the islands plantations have been established and tobacco and cotton have been successfully grown. Three German mission societies formed settlements on New Guinea, with a branch one on the Gazelle peninsula. The protectorate is included in the Universal Postal Union; each harbour has its post office, also a leading official with a number of assistants to control the natives and the revenue. It is divided into two districts with separate administrations, New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago; over both: presides an imperial governor, the seat of government being Herbertshohe in New Pomerania. A small police force of natives has been formed. In each district there is a registry of deeds and a court of law, and in New Guinea a court of appeal, of which the governor is president. A line of steamers plies between New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago and Singapore. A special silver coin of rupee value has been introduced. The area of Kaiser Wilhelms Land is approximately 70,000 sq. m. It is impossible to speak with any precision of the number of the native population, but the white population' in 1906 was 149.

The revenue of German New Guinea is derived from taxes, dues and licences, and amounted on the 31st of March 1892 to about £3000; on the same rate, 1901, to £3750. The annual revenue is averaged at £5000, and the expenditure at £4200. The New Guinea Company was to receive £ 20,000 for transferring proprietorship to government, which took over the administration in 1899. In 1905 imports into Kaiser Wilhelms Land were valued at £33,316, and exports at £7702, and the estimated expenditure for1907-1908of £76,000 included an imperial subvention of £57,696. 'The chief harbours are Friedrich Wilhelmshafen and Konstantinhafen.

xlx. 16 a Dutch New Guinea comprises all the western portion of the island. The boundary on the east, separating it from British New Guinea and German New Guinea, was finally settled in 1895. Starting from the south coast, it follows 141° I' 48" E. up to the Fly river, which is mounts until 141° I' is reached, when it once more follows the meridian up to the north coast. The area of the territory is 151,789 sq. m., and the inhabitants have been conjectured to number some 200,000. A few missionaries have established themselves, but otherwise the Dutch have scarcely occupied their possession, which at present merely forms part of the residency of Ternate in the Moluccas. Dutch New Guinea, however, has better natural advantages than either the British or German possessions in the island, and should eventually prove of real value to the Netherlands. The claims to superiority over New Guinea on the part of the rulers of some of the small neighbouring islands date at least from the spread of Islam to the Moluccas at the beginning of the 15th century, and were maintained by the Malay rulers both of Bachian and of Gebeh and afterwards by the sultan of Tidore. When the Dutch first came to these seas it was their policy to ally themselves with certain chiefs, and support their claims over various islands, so as to extend their own commercial monopoly; and they therefore supported the claims (admitted by Great Britain in 1814) of the sultan of Tidore over both the Raja Ampat (i.e. the four Papuan kingships, Waigeu, Salawatti, Misol and Waigamma on Misol Island) and certain islands or points on the north-west coast of New Guinea. Nominally the sultan of Tidore is still the suzerain of western New Guinea, but his authority is scarcely recognized, except on some few shores and adjacent islands, and practically Dutch New Guinea used to be administered partly from Ternate and partly from Timor, upon more peaceful lines than was the case when the rule of the Dutch in New Guinea largely consisted of the sending of a warship now and again to some distant island or bay to burn a kampong, to punish rebellious villagers, and thus assert or reassert Dutch authority, or that of the sultan, who is their vassal. In 1901, however, a more serious effort was made to establish some kind of government in the southern province of Dutch New Guinea, at Merawkay, where a small Dutch-Indian garrison was stationed with the professed object of preventing raids by bands of savages into the British territory near by. Such raids had been rather frequent, the invaders attacking the natives who live under British protection, burning their huts, murdering the men, carrying off the women and children as slaves, and returning to their own haunts laden with booty. There is an assistant Resident at Merawkay, whose immediate chief is the Dutch Resident at Ternate, and who is the civil administrator of the province of southern Dutch New Guinea. Assistant Residencies have also been established at Manokvary in northern Dutch New Guinea, which has been formed into a province, under Ternate, and at Fakfak, in western Dutch New Guinea, likewise erected into a province, also under Ternate. By 1902, therefore, Dutch New Guinea formed a government, with its headquarters at Ternate, divided into the three provinces named. At regular intervals the steamers of the Dutch Royal Steam Packet Company call at Dorey and other points, while administrative posts have been established elsewhere in lieu of others previously attempted but abandoned.

A curious discussion arose in the Dutch states-general when the government was seeking legislative sanction for the above measures, with a provisional credit to cover the first establishment expenses. It was seriously contended in one part of the house that, as eminent men of geographical and ethnographical science had settled the question whether New Guinea belongs to Asia or Polynesia in favour of the latter, a New Guinea colonization scheme could not properly be proposed and decided upon in a section of the Dutch-Indian budget. This budget concerned only the Asiatic possessions of Holland, not the Polynesian ones, and Dutch New Guinea must, consequently, have its own budget. Finally, the majority of the states-general, backed by government, decided that New Guinea must still be reckoned to belong to Asia.


Narratives of the various explorers mentioned: E. C. Rye, " Bibliography of New Guinea " (complete in 1883), in Supplementary Papers, R.G.S. (1884); H. Haga, Nederlandsch Nieuw Guinea en de Papoesche Eilanden. Historische Bijdrage, I „ co01883 (Batavia, 1884); H. H. Romilly, The Western Pacific and New Guinea (London, 1886); R. Parkinson, Im Bismarck Archipel (Leipzig, 1887); C. Kinloch Cooke, Australian Defences and New Guinea (London, 1887); J. Strachan, Explorations and Adventures in New Guinea (London,, 1888); H. O. Forbes, " British New Guinea as a Colony," in Blackwood's Magazine (July 1892); J. P. Thompson, British New Guinea (London, 1892); L. Karnbach, Die bisherige Erforschung von Kaiser Wilhelmsland (Berlin, 1893) F. S. A. de Clercq and J. D. E. Schmeltz, Ethnographische beschrijving van de Westen Noordkust van Nederlandsch Nieuw-Guinea (Leiden, 1893); A. C. Haddon, Decorative Art of British New Guinea, Royal Irish Academy (Dublin, 1894); " Studies in Anthropogeography of Br. New Guinea," in Geograph. Journ. vols. xvi., xvii.; " Geographische Untersuchungen in der Westhalfte von New Guinea," in Report of Sixth International Geographical Congress (London, 1895); J. Chalmers, Pioneer Life and Work in New Guinea (London, 1895); Sir W. MacGregor, British New Guinea (London, 1897); H. CayleyWebster, Through New Guinea (London, 1898); R. Semon, Im Australischen Busch and an den Kasten des Korallen Meeres (Leipzig, 1899); Nachrichten fiber Kaiser Wilhelmsland (Berlin, 1887-1899); Joachim Graf von Pfeil, Studien and Beobachtungen aus der Siidsee (Brunswick, 1899); M. Krieger, New Guinea (Berlin, 1899); F. Blum, New Guinea and der Bismarck Archipel (Berlin); Stanford's Compendium of Geography and Travel; Malaysia and Pacific Archipelagoes (new issue, edited by Dr F. H. H. Guillemard, London); The Cruise of the " Marchesa " (1894), by the same (second volume); British Empire Series: " Australasia " (London, 1900);'E. Tappenbeck, Deutsch Neuguinea (Berlin, 1901); J. Schmeltz, Beitrdge zur Ethnographie von Neuguinea (Leiden, 1905), sqq.; A. E. Pratt, Two Years among New Guinea Cannibals (London, 1906); Annual Reports on British New Guinea.

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Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


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Proper noun

New Guinea

  1. A large island in the Pacific Ocean, north of Australia, whose territory is divided between Indonesia in the west and Papua New Guinea in the east.
  2. (Formerly) the northern part of what is now called Papua New Guinea, administered as a separate territory to Papua.


Simple English

[[File:|thumb|200px|New Guinea and its place in the world]]

File:New guinea
New Guinea

New Guinea is a big island north of Australia. It is the second largest island in the world.

On the east side of New Guinea is the country Papua New Guinea. On the west side of the island are the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Irian Jaya.

About 6.9 million people live on the island.

New Guinea is also very important for its nature and biology, because there are many different animals.


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