from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • A country of the southwest Pacific Ocean comprising the eastern half of the island of New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, the western Solomons, and adjacent islands. Inhabited by a variety of Papuan and Melanesian peoples, the territory was visited by early Spanish and Portuguese explorers, though European settlement did not begin until the establishment of German and British protectorates in 1884. Australia assumed control of the British sector in 1905 and took over the German sector during World War I. The country became self-governing in 1973 and fully independent in 1975. Port Moresby, on New Guinea, is the capital and the largest city. Population: 5,800,000.


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