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New Guinea




New Guinea
Early morning at Alola, Kokoda Track, Papua New Guinea. Photographed on Day 3 of Trek - 8 September 2008.
Indonesia / Papua New Guinea
Earth's Natural Wonders in Australia & Oceania
Area of New Guinea 178,800 square miles (463,000 sq. km)
Terrain: Mountains with coastal lowlands and rolling foothills
Alola, Kokoda Track, Papua New Guinea[1]
Early morning at Alola, Kokoda Track, Papua New Guinea
New Guinea, located north of Australia, is the world's second largest island. It encompasses the nations of Papua, New Guinea on one side and the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Irian Jaya on the other. It has far-reaching flat landscapes inundated with water [2]
The name Papua has long been associated with the island. The western half of the island contains the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua, while the eastern half forms the mainland of the independent country of Papua New Guinea.[3]
Papua New Guinea[1]



A central east-west mountain range dominates the geography of New Guinea, over 1600 km in total length. The western half of the island of New Guinea contains the highest mountains in Oceania, rising up to 4884 m high, and ensuring a steady supply of rain from the equatorial atmosphere. The tree line is around 4000 m elevation and the tallest peaks contain permanent equatorial glaciers — which are disappearing due to a changing climate. Various other smaller mountain ranges occur both north and west of the central ranges. Except in high elevations, most areas possess a warm humid climate throughout the year, with some seasonal variation associated with the northeast monsoon season.

The Highest Peaks on the Island of New Guinea are:

Puncak Jaya, sometimes known by its former Dutch name Carstensz Pyramid, is a mist covered limestone mountain peak on the Indonesian side of the border. At 4,884 metres (16,023 ft), Puncak Jaya (sometimes called Mount Carstensz) makes New Guinea the world's fourth highest landmass.
Puncak Trikora also in Papua is 4,750 metres (15,584 ft).
Mount Wilhelm is the highest peak on the PNG side of the border at 4,509 meters. Its granite peak is the highest point of the Bismarck Range.
Mount Giluwe 4,368 meters is the second highest summit in PNG it is also the highest volcanic peak in Oceania.
Another major habitat feature is the vast southern and northern lowlands. Stretching for hundreds of kilometers, these include lowland rainforests, extensive wetlands, savanna grasslands, and some of the largest expanses of mangrove forest in the world. The southern lowlands are the site of Lorentz National Park, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Sepik, Mamberamo, Fly, and Digul rivers are the island's major river systems that drain in roughly northeast, northwest, southeast, and southwest directions respectively. Many of these rivers have broad areas of meander and result in large areas of lakes and freshwater swamps.

New Guinea contains many of the world’s ecosystem types: glacial, alpine tundra, savanna, montane and lowland rainforest, mangroves, wetlands, lake and river ecosystems, seagrasses, and some of the richest coral reefs on the planet.



The current population of the island of New Guinea is about 7.1 million people. Many believe human habitation on the island has been dated to as early as approximately 40,000 B.C., and first settlement possibly dated back to 60,000 years ago has been proposed. The island is presently populated by very nearly a thousand different tribal groups and a near-equivalent number of separate languages, which makes New Guinea the most linguistically diverse area in the world. Ethnologue 14th edition lists 826 languages of Papua New Guinea and 257 languages of Irian Jaya, total 1073 languages, with 12 languages overlapping. They fall into one of two groups, the Papuan languages and the Austronesian languages. The separation was not merely linguistic; warfare among societies was a factor in the evolution of the men's house: separate housing of groups of adult men, from the single-family houses of the women and children, for mutual protection against the other groups. Pig-based trade between the groups and pig-based feasts are a common theme with the other peoples of southeast Asia and Oceania. Most societies practice agriculture, supplemented by hunting and gathering.

Current evidence indicates that the Papuans (who constitute the majority of the island's peoples) are descended from the earliest human inhabitants of New Guinea. These original inhabitants first arrived in New Guinea at a time (either side of the Last Glacial Maximum, approx 21,000 years ago) when the island was connected to the Australian continent via a land bridge, forming the landmass known as Sahul. These peoples had made the (shortened) sea-crossing from the islands of Wallacea and Sundaland (the present Malay Archipelago) by at least 40,000 years ago, subsequent to the dispersal of peoples from Africa (circa) 50,000 - 70,000 years ago.

Korowai tribesmanThe ancestral Austronesian peoples are believed to have arrived considerably later, approximately 3,500 years ago, as part of a gradual seafaring migration from Southeast Asia, possibly originating in eastern China. Austronesian-speaking peoples colonized many of the offshore islands to the north and east of New Guinea, such as New Ireland and New Britain, with settlements also on the coastal fringes of the main island in places.

Human habitation of New Guinea over tens of thousands of years has led to a great deal of diversity, which was further increased by the later arrival of the Austronesians and the more recent history of European and Asian colonisation. This process has been accelerated by the transmigration programs and conscious policies enacted by successive Indonesian governments, which over recent decades has encouraged the resettlement of as many as one million immigrants to western New Guinea, predominantly from the islands of Java, Madura, and Bali.

Large swathes of New Guinea are yet to be explored by scientists and anthropologists. The province of Irian Jaya or West Papua is home to an estimated 44 uncontacted tribal groups.


Few areas of the globe can match Papua New Guinea in terms of biodiversity. The country's rugged natural settings are home to a staggering array of wildlife, including more than 21,000 species of higher plants, 200 species of mammals, and 700 species of birds.


November 20, 2006

The World Wonders .Com-visit 1,000 world wonders at www.theworldwonders.com


28 finalists-7 winners will be announced in 2011


1. Flickr-Papua New Guinea-Creative Commons Attribution License
2. 1,001 Natural Wonders You Must See Before You Die 2005-p. 804- Michael Bright-retrieved 6/2/2009
3. Wikipedia-Papua New Guinea-retrieved 7/12/2009
Wikipedia  text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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