The world's second largest island after Greenland, New Guinea is separated from Australia by the Torres Straits. In 1914 the western half formed part of the Dutch East Indies (since 1818), while the eastern half was divided between Britain and Germany in 1884. After 1920 the two eastern territories became a League of Nations Mandate of Australia. Under Murray's enlightened government, relations with the native peoples were relatively harmonious, though they were excluded from the country's government and administration. It was the scene of some of the heaviest jungle warfare in World War II. The presence of over one million US and Australian troops during this time did perhaps more to disrupt the traditional way of life of the native peoples than seven decades of European rule. The western half of the island joined Indonesia as West Irian in 1963, while the eastern half gained independence as Papua New Guinea on 16 September 1975.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).