The Name of Papua New Guinea

The name Papua, comes from Ilhas dos Papuas, the name given to the island by Dom Jorge de Meneses, the Portuguese Governor-elect of the Moluccas, who came upon it accidentally when he was blown off course en route from Malacca to Ternate in 1526. New Guinea comes from Nueva Guinea, the name given to the island by the Spanish explorer Ynigo Ortiz de Retes in 1545. Nueva Guinea first appeared in print on Mercator’s World Map in 1569.

New Guinea, Neuguinea or Nieuw Guinea was the name used by the British, Germans and Dutch for the colonies which they established in New Guinea and nearby islands in the late 19th century. When Britain passed control of British New Guinea to the Commonwealth of Australia in 1906 the colony was renamed the Territory of Papua. In March 1971 the House of Assembly’s select committee on constitutional development recommended that the country be called Niugini. This was strongly opposed by the Papuans and the House accepted a motion from an expatriate, Percy Chatterton, that the name be Papua New Guinea. The country officially became Papua New Guinea on 1 July 1971.

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