The eastern half of the
island of New Guinea - second largest in the world - was divided
(north) and the UK (south)
in 1885. The latter area was transferred to Australia
in 1902, which occupied the northern portion during World War I and
continued to administer the combined areas until independence in 1975.
A nine-year secessionist revolt on the island of Bougainville ended in
1997 after claiming some 20,000 lives. Melanesian Pidgin is the primary
language, but there are 820 indigenous languages that are also
spoken (over one-tenth of the world's total).