Bougainville Island

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Bougainville
BougainvilleBukaandNeighbourhood.png
Bougainville and neighbouring islands
Bougainville Island is located in Papua New Guinea
Bougainville Island

Bougainville Island (Papua New Guinea)
Geography
Location Melanesia
Coordinates 6°14′40″S 155°23′02″E / 6.24444°S 155.38389°E / -6.24444; 155.38389
Archipelago Solomon Islands
Area 9,318 km2 (3,598 sq mi)
Highest elevation 2,715 m (8,907 ft)
Highest point Mount Balbi
Country
Papua New Guinea
Province Bougainville Province
Demographics
Population 175,160 (as of 2000)
Density 18.80 /km2 (48.69 /sq mi)

Bougainville Island is the main island of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville of Papua New Guinea. This region is also known as Bougainville Province or the North Solomons. Its land area is 9,300 km2. The population of the province is 175,160 (2000 census), which includes the adjacent island of Buka and assorted outlying islands including the Carterets. Mount Balbi at 2,700m is the highest point. Although Bougainville Island is geographically part of the Solomon Islands archipelago, the state of Solomon Islands is not a part of Papua New Guinea.

History[edit]

Bougainville was first settled some 28,000 years ago from New Ireland. Three to four thousand years ago, Austronesian people arrived, bringing with them domesticated pigs, chickens, dogs and obsidian tools. The first European contact with Bougainville was in 1768, when the French explorer Louis de Bougainville arrived and named the main island for himself. Germany laid claim to Bougainville in 1899, annexing it into German New Guinea. Christian missionaries arrived on the island in 1902.

During World War I, Australia occupied German New Guinea, including Bougainville, taking it over under a League of Nations mandate.

In 1942 during World War II, Japan invaded the island, but allied forces launched the Bougainville campaign to regain control of the island in 1943. Following the war, Bougainville returned to Australian control. Bougainville became part of an independent Papua New Guinea in 1975.

Civil war broke out, and the independence of Bougainville was declared twice, once in 1975 and once in 1990. Peace talks brokered by New Zealand began in 1997, leading to autonomy for the island.

Geography[edit]

Bougainville is the largest island in the Solomon Islands archipelago. It is part of the Solomon Islands rain forests ecoregion. Bougainville and the nearby island of Buka are a single landmass separated by a deep 300-metre-wide strait. The island is 9000 square kilometres, and there are several active, dormant or inactive volcanoes which rise to 2400m. Mount Bagana in the north central part of Bougainville is conspicuously active, spewing out smoke that is visible many kilometres distant. Earthquakes are frequent, but cause little damage.

Climate[edit]

Climate data for Bougainville
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 32
(89)
32
(89)
31
(88)
31
(87)
31
(87)
31
(87)
30
(86)
31
(87)
31
(87)
30
(86)
31
(88)
31
(88)
31
(87.4)
Average low °C (°F) 22
(72)
22
(71)
23
(73)
22
(72)
22
(71)
22
(71)
22
(71)
22
(71)
22
(71)
22
(71)
22
(72)
23
(73)
22.2
(71.6)
Precipitation mm (inches) 564
(22.2)
191
(7.5)
373
(14.7)
290
(11.4)
282
(11.1)
241
(9.5)
505
(19.9)
323
(12.7)
353
(13.9)
582
(22.9)
417
(16.4)
488
(19.2)
4,609
(181.4)
Source: Weatherbase [1]

Demographics[edit]

The majority of people on Bougainville are Christian, an estimated 70% being Roman Catholic and a substantial minority United Church of Papua New Guinea since 1968. Few non-natives remain as most were evacuated following the civil wars.

Languages[edit]

There are many indigenous languages in Bougainville Province, belonging to three language families. The languages of the northern end of the island, and some scattered around the coast, belong to the Austronesian family. The languages of the north-central and southern lobes of Bougainville Island belong to the North and South Bougainville families.

The most widely spoken Austronesian language is Halia and its dialects, spoken in the island of Buka and the Selau peninsula of Northern Bougainville. Other Austronesian languages include Nehan, Petats, Solos, Saposa (Taiof), Hahon and Tinputz, all spoken in the northern quarter of Bougainville, Buka and surrounding islands. These languages are closely related. Bannoni and Torau are Austronesian languages not closely related to the former, which are spoken in the coastal areas of central and south Bougainville. On the nearby Takuu Atoll a Polynesian language is spoken, Takuu.

The Papuan languages are confined to the main island of Bougainville. These include Rotokas, a language with a very small inventory of phonemes, Eivo, Buin (Terei), Keriaka, Nasioi (Kieta), Nagovisi, Siwai (Motuna), Baitsi (sometimes considered a dialect of Siwai), Uisai and several others. These constitute two language families, North Bougainville and South Bougainville.

None of the languages are spoken by more than 20% of the population, and the larger languages such as Nasioi, Korokoro Motuna, Telei, and Halia are split into dialects that are not always mutually understandable. For general communication most Bougainvilleans use Tok Pisin as a lingua franca, and at least in the coastal areas Tok Pisin is often learned by children in a bilingual environment. English and Tok Pisin are the languages of official business and government.

Popular culture[edit]

Bougainville and its 1990s struggle for independence is the setting for the 2006 novel Mister Pip, by New Zealand author Lloyd Jones.

Evergreen Island (2000), a film by Australian documentary filmmakers Amanda King and Fabio Cavadini of Frontyard Films, showed the ingenuity with which the Bougainvillean people survived for almost a decade without trade or contact with the outside world.[2]

A documentary about the struggle of the indigenous population to save their island from environmental destruction and gain independence was made in 1999, called The Coconut Revolution.[3]

Bougainville - Our Island Our Fight was a 1998 film by director Wayne Coles-Janess. It featured footage of the war from behind the blockade.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Robert Young Pelton, Hunter Hammer and Heaven, Journeys to Three Worlds Gone Mad. ISBN 1-58574-416-6

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 6°14′40″S 155°23′02″E / 6.24444°S 155.38389°E / -6.24444; 155.38389