The Island of Bougainville

By Liceanne Utah

Bougainville is an island named after the explorer Captain Bougainville. It is the largest island in the Solomon Islands. It is also one of the 22 provinces of PNG. It covers an area of about 3,880 square miles and has a population of about 62,500 people. The island’s main products are cocoa and copra.

Arawa is the capital of Bougainville.
French navigator Louis Antoine de Bougainville discovered the island in 1768. In the 1880s, Bougainville was partially occupied by the Germans. Australia gained control in 1914 and Bougainville became part of New Guinea’s territory in 1920. Japan captured Bougainville in 1942 and in November 1943, US marines landed on the island. Since 1975, Bougainville has been called North Solomon and it is still one of the provinces of PNG.

The most spoken languages on the island are English and Tok Pisin. There are total of 23 different dialects spoken on the island.

Regardless of the ethnic group they belong to or the different languages they speak, the pride of its provincial colours certainly receives respect in the province. Colour red, black, white, green and blue are the official colours of the province.

These colours are common among paintings that the majority of citizens prefer to use during its provincial or cultural day celebrations. Therefore, in order to show the pride of the province, these colours are design into the provincial flag. Besides other additional features such as the special upe or the large shell that men wear after leaving their homes.

This unique object is worn by men during special events. The red and white upe headdress is superimposed on the cobalt blue field of green and white kapkap.
The flag of Bougainville is a symbol of Autonomous Region of Bougainville. It was first adopted in 1975 by the secessionist Republic of North Solomon. Blue represents Pacific Ocean, white represents beautiful sandy beaches and green signifies the Bougainville’s rainforest. The white inside also represent the sunrise, black signifies the skin colour of the Bougainvilleans, the upe signifies the manhood, while the two designs on the upe represents a mother holding her child.

The island is covered with tropical rainforest and it is enshrined with flowers, trees and various spices from the forest. The island is boasting with 26 spices of hibiscus flowers and the black orchid found only in Bougainville. The mountain ranges are located in the centre of the island and rivers flow from these mountains to the South Pacific Ocean. A long stretch of white sandy beaches surrounds the island. The mainland of Bougainville is surrounded by many small islands and atolls such as Nissan, Mortlock, Nuguria and Carterets Islands. The southern part of the island has numerous rivers flowing down to the Pacific Ocean. Hundreds of caves have also been discovered on the island, which is very exciting for tourists.

Today, Bougainville has two airports, the first and the larger one is in the town of Arawa and the smaller one is in Buka town. There is another town located in the South Bougainville called Buin. The small town is where our Solomon Island friends come to sell their valuable items such as necklaces, Solomon laplaps or lavalava, sea foods and many more. Bougainville is open to anyone who wants to travel to the island. It’s free if you want to discover a beautiful island or get a vocation on the island’s white sandy beaches. To track beyond the mountains and discover a large waterfall or check out the area where the previous Bougainville crisis occurred, take a PMV ride to the mainland of Bougainville. Here you can find a lot of interesting objects, ancient artefacts and island stories.

Bougainville is said to have its own currency, but it has not yet been confirmed. Whether that is true or not, some people have confirmed that the new Bougainville currency are fake. It is made of paper, not real paper. To be sure, PNG currencies are used throughout Bougainville. The island has experienced many things in the past, and now the province is trying to become a country on its own. I think that Bougainville citizens living in Port Moresby and other parts of the country will have a passport to travel to the island and will create its own currency at that time. Many people complain about the province and its development tends. The process is still in progress, and every Bougainville is waiting for good news. The vote has been completed, and most people want the island to gain independence.

This means that the island will soon be declared its own country. Our ancestors fought for this and now the greatest news is about to be announced soon. May we look forward to the best and God bless the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

Liceanne is from Bougainville and she’s in grade 8 (purple).

Published by Ples Singsing

Ples Singsing is envisioned to be a new platform for Papua Niuginian expressions of creativity, ingenuity and originality in art and culture. We deliberately highlight these two very broad themes as they can encompass the diverse subjects, from technology, medicine and architecture to linguistics, music, fishing, gardening et cetera. Papua Niuginian ways of thinking, living, believing, communicating, dying and so on can cover the gamut of academic, journalistic or opinionated writing and we believe that unless we give ourselves a platform to talk about and discuss these things in an open, free and non-exclusively academic space that they may remain the fodder for academics, journalists and other types of writers alone. New social media platforms have given every individual a personal space to share their feelings and ideas openly, sometimes without immediate censure. The Ples Singsing writer’s blog would like to provide another more structured platform for Papua Niuginian expressions in written, visual and audio formats while also providing some regulation of the type and content of materials to be shared publicly.

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