New Guinea

New Guinea, the largest island in the world (excluding the island continents of Australia and Greenland), lies N. of Australia, from which it is divided by Torres Strait (90 m. wide); is an irregular, mountainous, well-rivered territory, 10 times the size of Scotland, and is held by three European powers—the Dutch (200) in the western and least developed half; the German (100); in the NE., Kaiser Wilhelm's Land, administered by the German New Guinea Company, who export tobacco, areca, bamboo, ebony, &c.; and the British (135), in the SE., administered by the Commonwealth of Australia. Successful encouragement has been given to colonisation, and good exports of gold pearl-shells, copra, &c., are made. Much of the interior is still to explore, and is inhabited by Papuans, Negritoes, and other Melanesian tribes, many of which are still in the cannibal stage, although others are peaceful and industrious. A hot moist climate gives rise to much endemic fever, but encourages a wonderful profusion of tropical growth, giving place in the highlands to the hardier oak and pine, and still higher to a purely alpine flora; as in Australia, the animals are chiefly marsupials; the mountain ranges, which stretch in a more or less continuous line throughout the island, have peaks that touch an altitude of 20,000 ft. and send down many navigable streams. Port Moresby is the capital of the British portion.

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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