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A Brief History

European sea captains and navigators were the first travellers to record their meetings with the people of Papua New Guinea. In 1526 the first European Jorge de Meneses sighted the mainland and named it Ilhas dos Papuas, land of frizzy haired people. In 1545 Inigo Ortiz de Retes followed the coastline band named the island of New Guinea because he thought the people resembled those of the Guinea coast in Africa.

The island was undisturbed by European influence until 1884 when Germany and Great Britain colonised the north and south coastal areas respectively.

The events of 1884 began a ninety year period of foreign investment in the affairs of Papua New Guinea. Five different nations took upon themselves the Government or military occupation of at least part of the country during that time; these were Germany, Britain, Australia (which succeeded Britain in 1906), Japan and the United States.

During World War I the Australian army occupied the German colonies and during World War 2 the Japanese captured the former German colonies before being evicted by United States and Australia armed forces. After World War 2, Australia's mandate to administer the island was approved by the United Nations Organisation in 1946. By various Acts of the Australian Parliament the administration of the Australia territory of Papua and the trust territory of New Guinea were integrated into one administration.

This administration continued until early 1960's when under the United Nations pressure, moves began to provide Papua New Guinean representation in government and the civil service. By a series of steps between 1962-1973 PNG moved from direct rule by appointees from Australia to representative self government.

In 1972 Sir Michael Somare became the Chief Minister of a democratically elected government and led the nation to self government on October 1, 1973. Papua New Guinea became an independent nation on September 16, 1975 and Michael Somare the nation's first Prime Minister.

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