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It is also one of the most rural, as only 18 per cent of its people live in urban centres.
Traders from Southeast Asia had visited New Guinea beginning 5,000 years ago to collect bird-of-paradise plumes.
Guinea, in its turn, is etymologically derived from the Portuguese word Guiné.
The name is one of several toponyms sharing similar etymologies, ultimately meaning "land of the blacks" or similar meanings, in reference to the dark skin of the inhabitants.
The western half of New Guinea forms the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua.
It is the world's 3rd largest island country with 462,840 km At the national level, after being ruled by three external powers since 1884, Papua New Guinea established its sovereignty in 1975.
Approximately 216,000 Japanese, Australian, and US servicemen died.
After World War II and the victory of the Allies, the two territories were combined into the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. The natives of Papua appealed to the United Nations for oversight and independence.
These conditions contributed to the complexity of organising the country's post-independence legal system.
During World War II, the New Guinea campaign (1942–1945) was one of the major military campaigns and conflicts between Japan and the Allies.
Portuguese traders had obtained it from South America and introduced it to the Moluccas.
The far higher crop yields from sweet potato gardens radically transformed traditional agriculture and societies.
The nation is an observer state in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN since 1976, and has already filed its application for full membership status.