PNG: An incredible nation
Papua New Guinea is one of the least explored countries on earth. With a population of just over six million, PNG enjoys incredible cultural diversity via the hundreds of traditional societies living within the country, with their own unique styles of art, dance, weaponry, costumes, singing, music architecture and lifestyles. Only 18% of the population reside in urban centres, whilst the majority of rural-dwelling population live a subsistence-based agricultural lifestyle. Many undiscovered species of plants and animals are thought to exist in the interior of PNG.
From 1884 Papua New Guinea was ruled by colonial powers, until 1975 when the country gained peaceful independence from Australia. Ties remain close to Australia, especially from the close bond forged between the nations in World War II in which hundreds of thousands of PNG civilians, Japanese, Australian and American military personnel lost their lives.
Many people live in extreme poverty, with about one third of the population living on less than US $1.25 per day
At 2.5 degrees south of the equator, PNG experiences ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ seasons, the perfect tropical weather ensuring a perfect ‘Melanesian’ holiday. The wet season occurs from November through to April (best surf season) and the dry season occurs from May to October. Generally the wet season is not as hot and humid as other equatorial regions, with average temperatures ranging between 25-30°C, and water temperatures remaining warm year round at about 26°C.
Aitape-Wewak during WW2
The Australian portion of the Aitape-Wewak campaign took place in northern New Guinea between November 1944 and August 1945. Aitape had been occupied by the Japanese in 1942. Recaptured by an American landing on 22 April 1944, it was developed as a base area to support the continuing drive towards the Philippines. In order to free American troops for the Philippine operations, defence of the area was passed to Australian forces.
Although their primary role was the defence of the base facilities at Aitape, Australian commanders opted to advance to the east of Aitape, towards Wewak, to destroy the remnants of the Japanese 18th Army which had already sustained heavy losses as a result of previous Australian operations.
Operations there were still continuing there when the war in the Pacific ended in August 1945. Australian casualties in the campaign amounted to 442 killed and 1,141 wounded. Over 9,000 Japanese were killed and 269 became prisoners of war.