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British New Guinea

BRITISH NEW GUINEA The British Territory of Papua has an area of about 90,540 sq. m. and a population estimated at 400,000, of whom about 600 are Europeans. The Protectorate, as declared in 1884, with its seat of government at Port Moresby, was subsidized by the three Australian colonies of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, and lasted, under the administration of two successive special commissioners (Major-General Sir Peter Scratchley and the Hon. John Douglas), till the 4th of September 1888, when it was proclaimed by the first Administrator afterwards Lieutenant-Governor Sir William MacGregor, a possession of Queen Victoria. Its constitution was that of a crown colony in association with Queensland; but in 1901 the federal government took control of the territory and in 1906 a proclamation by the governor-general of the commonwealth gave it the name of the Territory of Papua. The lieutenant-governor is aided by an executive and a legislative council, and advised by a native regulation board. Justice is administered by petty sessions in the six magisterial districts into which the possession is divided, with a central court at Port Moresby (which, however, sits elsewhere as necessary) having the jurisdiction of a supreme court, from which in certain cases an appeal lies to the supreme court of Queensland.

Order is maintained by an armed constabulary force, under a European officer, of about 180, almost all natives from different districts, whose members are found to be very efficient and trustworthy. The expenditure is about 38,000 annually, and the revenue, mainly derived from customs duties, is rapidly increasing. Only 5110 in 1895, it was 11,683 in 1899 and 19,197 in 1905.

Commerce and Trade. The making of mats, fishing-nets, shell ornaments, decorated gourds, and stone implements, and the manufacture of pottery, canoes and sago, constitute the chief native industries, which are the subject of barter between different regions. European industries include gold mining, in which 500 miners, besides natives, are engaged (chiefly in the Louisiade Archipelago), and the be'che de mer and pearl-shell fisheries, which were formerly more productive than at present. Copra is naturally largely prepared, as coco-nut palms are very numerous, and are extensively planted every year. A small amount of tortoise-shell is collected. The rubber industry is, according to Sir W. MacGregor, " important and promising." Species of Palaquium, the genus from which, in the Indian Archipelago, the best gutta-percha is obtained, occur on the hills, and from their cultivation there might in time be obtained a large revenue independently of European labour. Timber of economic value is scarce. Red cedar (CedrHia) abounds in the riverine flats, but the quality is poor and commercially valueless; and oaks are plentiful, but the wood is coarse. Small quantities of ebony and sandal- wood are exported. " There can be no reasonable doubt that the sugar-cane, which is native and present in a great many varieties, sago, cotton, probably also indigenous and of exceptionally fine quality, will eventually be valuable " (MacGregor). The trade of British New Guinea is exclusively with the Australian colonies. Imports were valued at 72,286 in 1890^-1900 (an increase of over 20,110 in the year), and exports (including the gold mines) at 56,167, while in 1905 the figures were 67,188 for imports and 73,669 for exports, and in 1906 79,671 and 80,290 respectively.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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