Historical Melanesia Essay

5349 words - 22 pages

(Historical, Cultural And Spiritual Overviews)Land Of Lost Tribes And LanguagesFew people who follow the torturous exploits of the Portuguese who circumnavigated the globe half a millennium ago ever reach The Molucca Islands tucked away in the Indonesian archipelago. These islands, reached by Jorge de Menses in 1526, are still largely unknown even to geography-literate people in the West.De Menses landed on the shores of Wageo island, which he promptly named Papuwah (later to become Papua) which is a Malay word meaning "fuzzy" or "frizzled Hair."Nueva Guinea was the nickname given the island by Inigo Ortiz de Retes in 1545 because of the striking resemblance of the fuzzy headed natives to ...view middle of the document...

However, apart from this one flatlands region, mountains dominate the landscape throughout Papua New Guinea.Crossing from one ridge to the next by mountain trail is a formidable test. At about 10,000 feet one enters the cold, dreary mist forest where the trees are draped in cloud cover most days of the year. These are jungle covered mountains only passable by hacking through, one step at a time, with machetes. At this altitude, the trails are smooth and slippery from the constant dampness. It is a frequent dilemma to become cemented, waist deep, in rain forest moss and muck, while looking straight up into the teeth of sky scraping steeps. Sturdy jungle boots are often consumed by a single three day trek in mountains such as these.Though Papua New Guinea lies wholly within the tropics, the elevation tells you more about the temperature than latitude. In a one hour flight one can experience the sun scorched dryness of Port Moresby, stand beneath a torrential downpour in the steamy town of Lae and shiver under the chill of Mt. Hagen's cold mountain air.Geologically unstable, Papua new Guinea experiences 5% - 10% of all the worlds earthquakes annually. Similarly, situated within the famed Ring of Fire, numerous active volcanoes continue to threaten the existence of many tribes and several important cities.Papua New Guinea History"New Guinea!" Palms still moisten at the mention of the name. The intrigue and magnetism of this South Pacific island remains forever strong.New Guinea was contacted initially in 1526, but it was not until the 1870's that Europeans built the first permanent settlements in Rabaul and Port Moresby. In the last quarter of the 19th century European traders, gold prospectors and missionaries made consistent contact with the coastal peoples and began pioneering the inland. Only in the past two decades, though, has Western development significantly impacted the interior regions.The history of Papua New Guinea is best understood when divided into three segments: Pre-World War II, Post-World War II and Post-Independence.Pre-World War IIEuropean colonization largely overlooked New Guinea until 1884. The Dutch were the first to assert authority over the island, utilizing her as a protective barrier from encroaching enemies who coveted their treasured Dutch Indes Empire (present day Indonesia).Germany was close behind the Dutch, driven solely by their ambitious trading and commercial interests. In fact, the northern half of New Guinea served as a German colony beginning in 1884 until World War I.The British, motivated by a growing concern over Germany's trading activities so near to Australia, proclaimed a protectorate of their own, also in 1884, in the southern half of New Guinea. To the credit of the British, they displayed an increasingly genuine humanitarian and missionary concern for New Guinea. It was their desire to protect the indigenous people from the perils of European exploitation. In 1901, British New Guinea came under the...

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