New Guinea

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1526  Portuguese sailor Jorge de Meneses was the first European visitor to the area. He named one of the islands "ilhas dos Papuas" or "land of fuzzy-haired people".

1546  The Spanish explorer Inigo Ortiz de Retes named the other main island New Guinea because the islanders resemble the people of Guinea in Africa.

1768  The French explorer Louis-Antoine de Bougainville landed on the islands during his circumnavigation of the world.

1873  Port Moresby was named after one of several English explorers to lay claim to the island for Great Britain.

1884  Britain established a protectorate over south-east New Guinea, while Germany annexed the northern part of New Guinea.

1906 The control of British New Guinea was transferred to the newly independent Commonwealth of Australia and renamed the Territory of Papua.

1914 Australian forces occupied German New Guinea during World War I.

1921  After the war the League of Nations granted Australia a mandate to run German New Guinea. This new Mandated Territory of New Guinea was governed totally separate from the Territory of Papua.

1933  Gold-prospectors lead expeditions into the highlands. Where they found more than a million people living in fertile mountain valleys, their way of life apparently unchanged since the Stone Age.

1942  Japanese forces occupied parts of both territories.

July 1949  Australia established a joint administration over both territories called the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.

November 1951 A 28-member Legislative Council was established by Australia.

June 1954  An aerial survey revealed several previously undiscovered highland valleys inhabited by up to 100,000 people.

March 1961 Saw the first elections involving the indigenous population.

May 1963  The U.N. transfers control of West New Guinea to Indonesia. Today this region is called Papua.

June 1964  A 64-member House of Assembly replaced the  Legislative Council and for the first time indigenous representatives were elected to the majority of seats in the legislature.

July 1971  The country was renamed Papua New Guinea (PNG).

February 1973 Indonesia and PNG agreed the position of Irian Jaya border.

December 1973  The country was granted self-government. Michael Somare was made the  chief minister of an interim coalition government, and was sworn in as the head of the governing Executive Council.

April 1975  A new currency, the kina, replaces the Australian dollar.

16th September 1975  The country attained full independence from Australia. Sir Michael Somare became the  P.M.

1975 The  Bougainville provincial government voted to secede from P.N.G. Somare's government retaliated by suspending the provincial government and withholding payments to the province.

June-July 1977 The first parliamentary elections took place since independence.

April/May 1989 Separatist rebels on Bougainville began a prolonged armed struggle against the government. Secessionist Francis Ona, proclaimed "a republic of Bougainville". The recently-formed Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA), anxious about environmental destruction and unhappy that profits were leaving the island, forced the closure of the Australian-owned Panguna copper mine.

1994  P.M. Sir Julius Chan signed an agreement with several Bougainville secessionist leaders which provided a transitional administration in Bougainville. The Bougainville Revolutionary Army leaders were not signatories, they continued to fight for full independence.

April  1995 The Bougainville Transitional Government was sworn in under the leadership of Theodore Miriong. The three seats reserved for the B.R.A. remained vacant.

1996  Theodore Miriong was assassinated at his home in south-west Bougainville. He was replaced by Gerard Sinato.

February-March 1997 The Government hired mercenaries from 'Sandline International'  to support government troops in Bougainville, sparking an army mutiny and civil unrest. Prime Minister Chan was forced to resign.

September 1997  The government declared a national state of disaster following a prolonged drought thought to have been caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon. Over 1,000 people were killed and a further 1.2 million are put at risk of starvation.

October 1997 The Burnham Truce marks the end of the decade-old armed struggle by Bougainville separatists.

December 1997  Countries in the region established the Truce Monitoring Group to oversee compliance with the Burnham Truce until 30th April 1998, when a ceasefire was to be signed. The New Zealand led group also comprised of troops from Australia, Fiji and Vanuatu and they were all unarmed.

Apri1998 A permanent ceasefire was signed in Bougainville by the government representatives and secessionist leaders. The Australian Peace Monitoring Group took over from the Truce Monitoring Group.

July 1998  Three tsunamis, (gigantic waves generated by earthquakes) hit the north-west coast obliterating villages and killing 3,000 people.

August 1998 The United Nations established the U.N. Political Office in Bougainville at the request of the PNG government.

1st January  1999 The Bougainville Reconciliation Government replaced the Bougainville Transitional Government. Former rebel leader Joseph Kabui and Gerard Sinato were nominated as co-leaders.

May 1999 Joseph Kabui was elected president of the Bougainville People's Congress.

1999 December  John Momis was sworn in as the governor of Bougainville.

November 2000  The Authorities reported that all 1,000 inhabitants of the Duke of York atoll will have to be relocated because the island is slowly sinking due to global warming.

August 2001  The Bougainville Peace Agreement, guaranteeing a referendum in 10 to 15 years on Bougainville's future political status, was signed in Arawa.

August 2002  Sir Michael Somare was elected as the prime minister for a third time.

August 2004  The  Australian government  deployed its federal police to help fight rampant crime in the country.

December 2004  An Australian study warned that P.N.G. was on course for social and economic collapse.

May 2005 Australia withdrew its police officers after the P.N.G. Supreme Court ruled that their deployment was unconstitutional. Bougainville islanders elected their first autonomous government, and the former separatist rebel Joseph Kabui became the countries president.

May 2007  The Parliament passed a law to allow casinos and online gambling to operate in the country. It was hoped that the activity would boost the country's economy.

August 2007  Sir Michael Somare was elected as premier for second consecutive term.

November 2007  Cyclone Guba causes flooding which killed 163 and left more than 13,000 homeless in the Oro and Milne provinces.

June 2008  The Bougainville President Joseph Kabui died.

December 2008 The former rebel James Tanis was elected the autonomous president of Bougainville.

December 2008  Huge tidal waves left hundreds of people homeless and raised fears of water-borne illness in the northern coastal region.

July 2009  The Police investigated a further series of sorcery-related killings in the remote Highlands. About 50 people were killed in sorcery-related attacks during 2008, and the government promised an inquiry in January 2009.

May 2009  Chinese-owned firms were looted in Port Moresby and the coastal city of Lae in an apparent sign of growing hostility towards Chinese immigrants.

August 2009 The country recorded its first outbreak of cholera, which killed 40 people in the northern province of Morobe.

December 2009 China signs a deal to import liquefied natural gas from Papua New Guinea.

December/January  2010 Prime Minister Michael Somare stepped down to face a tribunal investigating claims of his misconduct, although he returned to work the following month.


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