Bismarck Archipelago

The Bismarck Archipelago ( until 1884: New Britain Archipelago or New Britain Archipelago ) is located in the western Pacific Ocean and is now part of State of Papua New Guinea.

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The archipelago consists of more than 200 islands that are culturally associated with Melanesia. The total area is 49,658 km ². The main islands of the archipelago are:

Topography and Fauna

The archipelago extends between 2 ° and 6 ° 30 ' south latitude and 148 ° and 155 ° east longitude. It covers a total area of ​​approximately 49,500 km ². The land masses are partly volcanic, partly korallogenen origin and have elevations up to 1200 meters. The main islands are semi-circular in the northeast of New Guinea, from which they are separated by about 90 kilometers wide Dampierstraße. Between New Britain and New Ireland runs from southeast to northwest of St. George's Channel, at whose output the west borders the Bismarck Sea.

The fauna is related to that of New Guinea. In addition, the Bismarck - ring Python ( Bothrochilus boa ) and Finsch pigeon occur which are located exclusively in the Bismarck Archipelago.


European discovery and early contacts

From the European side, islands of the archipelago have been sighted in 1616 by the Dutch navigators Jacob Le Maire and Willem Schouten. The current name " New Britain ", " New Ireland ", " New Hanover " and " Duke of York Islands " go back to a later visit of the English privateer and explorer William Dampier with HMS Roebuck in 1700.

In mid- 1791, the Duke of York Group, the British captain John Hunter went to the Dutch Waaksamheyd and measured the natural harbor in the far north. The occasion of his so called " Hunter harbor " in the following decade was increasingly frequented by whaling ships from the United States and Hawaii, which drove there for provisioning barter. From 1830 such transactions occurred in front of other coasts along the St. Georg channel instead, and at the latest around 1870 there was a first port in the Hunter established Europeans, who represented the indigenous upper class as an agent. Feed contributed to these developments, a group of deserters from Sydney ( New South Wales convict colony, Australia), which settled in 1840 on the southwestern tip of New Ireland.

In the second half of 1875, the English Reverend George Brown founded on the Duke of York Island, a first mission station and headed from here the conversion of the Gazelle Peninsula. Around the same time built the later Hamburg businessman Eduard Hernsheim Hunter harbor and opened a branch through his agent J. T. Blohm the outpatient barter on the northern beaches of the Gazelle Peninsula and in the southeast, Blanche Bay. Previously, the trading firm Godeffroy & Sohn had already tried to make using two stations in the bay permanent relationships with the locals, but that was failed in April 1873.

In the early 1880s, the trading house Hernsheim established themselves as the most important representatives of European trade in the Bismarck Archipelago & Co with main offices in the Blanche Bay ( Matupi ) and on New Ireland ( Nusa and Kapsu ), as well as the successor of Godeffroy & Sohn, the German trade and plantation society ( DHPG ) on the Duke of York group ( " Mioko agency " ) and the northern Gazelle Peninsula ( Stn. Weberhafen ). The DHPG used the archipelago from 1882/83 also for forced recruitment of labor for their plantations in Samoa. Furthermore represented was the Australian- New Zealand company Farrell & Co ( from 1888/89 EE Forsayth ), the systematic operation since November 1882 in the district Birara ( Gazelle Peninsula ) plantations.

German reserve

After an " acquisition " of the ports of Mioko and Makada ( Duke of York Islands) by Lieutenant Commander Bartholomew by Werner in December 1878 was formed in September 1884, the Neubritannienarchipel the starting point for the seizure of the later Kaiser Wilhelm Lands ( northeast coast of New Guinea ) by the German Reich. With Flaggenhissungen on Matupi and Mioko ( 3rd and 4th of November), the archipelago itself was declared a protected area and renamed in September 1885 at the suggestion of Commissioner Gustav von Oertzens in " Bismarck Archipelago ". Administratively, he formed until 1899 the "Eastern District jurisdiction " of the protected area of New Guinea 's Company, with administrative headquarters initially on Kerawara ( Duke of York Group, 1886-1890 ) and Matupi ( 1886-87, 1888-89 ). Final headquarters, which was maintained even after the takeover of management by the German Empire ( 1899) and incorporation into the imperial sanctuary German New Guinea, was Herbertshöh ( 1890-1918).

First World War and recent developments

During the First World War, the few Germans contributed only short-term resistance in the Bismarck Archipelago. In contrast to the larger African colonies of Germany was in the South Pacific no protection force, but merely a native Melanesian police. Height of the fighting was the occupation of the radio station Bita Paka at Rabaul by Australian units in September 1914. The German garrison surrendered on 17 September 1914, an Australian- French fleet. On September 21 1914 the passing of Herbert height was.


In 1899, the Melanesian population of the archipelago has been estimated at 180000-200000 inhabitants. Today there are approximately 470,000 people in the area.

Trade and Economy

Your local currency was in 1900 still Diwarra, the shell money. They led from the natural products copra, cotton, trepang, mother of pearl and tortoiseshell. The value was 1896/97 about 700,000 cord.