Papua New Guinea consists of the eastern half of the island of New Guinea,
second largest island in the world after Greenland. Spanish navigator
Jorge de Menezes, who landed on the northwest shore in 1527, discovered the
island of New Guinea. The island was claimed, in part or whole, by Spain, the
Netherlands, Great Britain and Germany.
Papua, formerly British New Guinea, is situated in the southeastern quarter
of the island. Queensland in 1883 and the British Crown in 1888 annexed that
part of the island. Germany annexed the area known as German New Guinea,
comprising the northeastern quarter of the island in 1884.
Japan invaded New Guinea and Papua in early 1942, but Australian control was
restored before the end of the year in Papua and in 1945 in New Guinea.
Following Japanese surrender, both territories came under U.N. trusteeship with
Australia as the administering power. Papua New Guinea became self-governing in
1973. Full independence was achieved within the British Commonwealth in 1975.
For a more detailed
country profile, see CIA World Factbook on Papua New Guinea.