Home >> Cyclopedia Of India, Volume 2 >> Number to Or New Guinea >> or New Guinea_P1

or New Guinea

miles, coast, possession, island, feet and cape

Page: 1 2 3

NEW GUINEA, or Tana Papua, is an island on the eastern border of the Eastern Archipelago. Its north coast is generally high ; towards the sea there is low land, but a little way inland a chain of mountains extends parallel to the coast, and elevated in some places 4000 or 5000 feet above the sea, and there are said to be mountains 17,000 feet high, covered with snow; Mount Owen Stanley being 13,000 feet. Near Dori the loftier mountains retire a little backward, and seem to reach their greatest altitude in the Arfak range, which the officers of the Coquille ascertained to have an elevation of 9500 feet. It is 1500 miles long, and 410 in breadth, with an area of 224,000 square miles. It may be said to con sist of a great central mass about the size of the Austrian empire, and two tapering peninsulas,— one at the north-west, or Dutch, the other at the south-east, or British end. Mountain ranges exist in these peninsulas, but little is known of the country inland. Signor D'Albertis, who ascended the Fly river for about 500 miles into the interior, alone has seen anything of it.

The Portuguese (Jorge de Meneses) stumbled on it in 1526, and the Spaniard (Luiz Vaez de Torres), in 1606, formally took possession of it in the name of the king of Spain, and with it 20 natives,: so that, to use his own words, with them we might be able to give a better account to your Majesty.' The Dutch Commissioner Van Delden, in a proclamation dated August 24, 1828, annexed to the crown of Holland that portion of New Guinea and the lands lying therein, begin ning with the 141st degree of longitude east of Greenwich on the S. coast, and from thence W.N.W. and N. as far as the Cape of Good Hope, situated on the north coast. The climate was found to be too unhealthy, and in 1835 the settle ment was abandoned. But in 1848, by resolution of the Governor-General (dated the 30th July), the Netherlands territory was determined \to extend from the Cape Bonplanc in 140° 17' E. the N. coast, along the shores of Geelvinks Bay to the Cape of Good Hope, and, further, towaricle the W., S., and S.E. as far as 140° E. on the S. coast.

On this portion, posts, provided with the Nether land arms, and with the inscription New Guinea, were set up in 1850. The 'surface thus under Netherlands rule, together with that of the island included, amounts to 3210 square geographical miles (Dutch), with a population estimated at about 200,000 souls.

The British connection with it began with Cap tain Bligh, of Bounty fame, who sighted New Guinea in 1792, and he took possession in the King's name of 'everything he saw' on his voyage through Torres Straits. According to a despatch from the Admiralty to the Colonial Office, dated 14th October 1873, New Guinea was formally taken possession of by Lieutenant Yule, of Her Majesty's ship Bramble, in 1846, at a point named by him Cape Possession, about 300 miles west ward of Captain Moresby's subsequent discoveries. Captain Moresby, in the Basilisk, in 1874 circum navigated the island, and found an archipelago of about 60 islands, with many fine harbours. On the 24th April 1874, he landed his ship's com pany on Hayter Island, and, in the Queen's name, took possession of it, as well as of Moresby and Basilisk Islands, together with various groups of detached islets. On the 6th November 1884, Great Britain proclaimed the British Protectorate over all the southern coasts to the eastward of the 141st meridian of east longitude. The area of annexed territory is about 175,000 square miles. The races are untouched by civilisation, and for the most part are perfect strangers to the white man.

The villages are small and scattered, hut all are independent, and recognise no central authority. A large and powerful village is feared by the smaller ones, and will plunder and oppress them, but there is no chieftainship over an entire dis trict. The promulgation of laws and the exercise of justice are alike unknown. They are all pre datory, and given to thieving. The men, when they have killed an enemy, are tattooed. The women wear a kilt, and are all tattooed.

Page: 1 2 3