|Papua New Guinea|
|For a discussion of
the history before 1883 of the area of present-day Papua New Guinea, see
In 1883 the government of Queensland, Australia, annexed the southeastern portion of the island of New Guinea to prevent an apparently imminent German annexation. The following year Great Britain established the area as part of the protectorate of British New Guinea. Australia assumed administrative responsibility in 1901, and the formal transfer to Australian jurisdiction was effected in 1906. The territory was then renamed Papua. At the beginning of World War I (1914-1918) Australia also occupied the German-controlled northeastern section of the island, but the two were administered as different entities. The northern portion became a League of Nations mandate. Under Australian administration an educational system was introduced, sanitation was improved, and commercial plantations were established.
In 1942, during World War II, Japanese forces occupied the northern section and penetrated to within 56 km (35 mi) of Port Moresby. A U.S. and Australian counteroffensive drove the invaders from Papua before the end of January 1943.
After the war, Australia, given a United Nations trusteeship over the northern territory, united the administration of the two areas, and subsequently continued its efforts to expand education and develop the economy. In order to prepare the country for eventual autonomy and independence, the Australians sought to encourage democratic institutions. The first village council was established in 1950, and the following year a countrywide legislative council was created. It gave way in 1964 to a House of Assembly.
A Papuan-controlled central government was formed in 1972, and on December 1, 1973, the territories of Papua and New Guinea became the self-governing area of Papua New Guinea. The country became fully independent on September 6, 1975, with Michael T. Somare, head of the Pangu Pati, as its first prime minister. Turned out of office on a vote of no confidence in 1980, he was replaced by Sir Julius Chan, leader of the People's Progress Party. The government subsequently sent troops into neighboring Vanuatu to quell an uprising there. Somare returned to power after elections in 1982. His government fell in 1985 and was replaced by a coalition government led by Paias Wingti. After another vote of no confidence, a new coalition led by Rabbie Namaliu replaced Wingti's government in 1988. Wingti returned to power after the general elections of 1992. New elections were held in August 1994 after Wingti's political decisions were disputed, and Chan became prime minister again. In September the government signed a cease-fire agreement with the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA), a secessionist rebel group that had been carrying out guerrilla warfare on the island of Bougainville since 1988. The conflict started because of concern over revenue distribution from Bougainville's mines. However, it later developed into a secessionist movement for island residents, many of whom identified ethnically with the residents of the Solomon Islands. Fighting resumed in early 1995. Negotiations between the government and the BRA began in Australia in September, but the government halted the talks in November due to increased rebel activity on Bougainville. A crisis emerged in March 1997 over Papua New Guinea's use of a small mercenary military to assist in the country's fight against the Bougainville rebels. The country's own military, underpaid and ill equipped, mutinied and demanded Prime Minister Chan's resignation when they discovered the government had paid $36 million for the mercenary force's services. Papua New Guinea soldiers and civilians blockaded the parliament building in Port Moresby when legislators rejected a motion for Chan's resignation. Chan then resigned, but resumed his prime minister post in May, when he claimed a judiciary inquiry had cleared him of any wrongdoing. The results of the inquiry, however, were not expected to be publicized until June.