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Bismarck Archipelago

Bismarck Archipelago
Map of the Bismarck Archipelago
Location Papua New Guinea
Major islands New Britain, New Ireland
Area 49,700 km2 (19,200 sq mi)
Papua New Guinea
Region Islands Region

The Bismarck Archipelago is a group of islands off the northeastern coast of New Guinea in the western Pacific Ocean and is part of the Islands Region of Papua New Guinea. Its area is about 50,000 square km.


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
  • Notes 3
  • Bibliography 4
  • External links 5


The first inhabitants of the archipelago arrived around 33,000 years ago from New Guinea, either by boats across the Bismarck Sea or via a temporary land bridge, created by an uplift in the Earth's crust. Later arrivals included the Lapita people.

The first European to visit these islands was Dutch explorer Willem Schouten in 1616.[1][2] The islands remained unsettled by western Europeans until they were annexed as part of the German protectorate of German New Guinea in 1884. The area was named in honour of the Chancellor Otto von Bismarck.

On 13 March 1888, a volcano erupted on Ritter Island causing a megatsunami. Almost the entire volcano fell into the ocean, leaving a small crater lake.[3]

The first wave of U.S. troops lands on Los Negros, Admiralty Islands, 29 February 1944

Following the outbreak of World War I, the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force seized the islands in 1914 and Australia later received a League of Nations mandate for the islands. They remained under Australian administration—interrupted only by Japanese occupation during World War II—until Papua New Guinea became independent in 1975.


The Bismarck Archipelago includes mostly volcanic islands with a total land area of 49,700 km2 (19,189 sq mi). The archipelago encompasses the Bismarck Sea and sits upon the North Bismarck Plate, the Manus Plate and the South Bismarck Plate.

Islands are grouped here according to administrative province:

Provinces of Papua New Guinea.
Rabaul caldera, New Britain

The passage of water between the islands of New Britain and New Ireland is called St. George's Channel after

  •  "Bismarck Archipelago". The New Student's Reference Work. 1914. 
  • about the provinces

External links

  • Firth, Stewart (1983). New Guinea Under the Germans. Carlton, Australia: Melbourne University Press. ISBN 0-522-84220-8.
  • Howe, K. R., Robert C. Kiste, Brij V. Lal, eds. (1994). Tides of History: The Pacific Islands in the Twentieth Century. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0-8248-1597-1.
  • King, David et al. (1982). Papua New Guinea Atlas: A Nation in Transition. Bathurst, Australia: R. Brown and the University of Papua New Guinea. ISBN 0-909197-14-8.
  • Moore, Clive (2003). New Guinea: Crossing Boundaries and History. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0-8248-2485-7.
  • Ryan, Peter, ed. (1972). Encyclopedia of Papua New Guinea. 3 volumes; Vol I: A - K, maps, black and white illustrations, xv + 588pp. Vol II: l - Z, maps, black and white illustrations, 589-1231pp. Vol III: Index, folding colour map in rear pocket, map, colour illustration, v + 83pp. Carlton, Australia: Melbourne University Press. ISBN 978-0-522-84025-4.


  1. ^ Sigmond, J. P. and Zuiderbann, L. H. (1976) Dutch Discoveries of Australia, Rigby, Australia. ISBN 0-7270-0800-5
  2. ^ Spate, O. H. K. (1979) The Spanish Lake, Australian National University, Second Edition, 2004. ISBN 1-920942-17-3
  3. ^ Ward, Steven N.; Day, Simon (September 2003). "Ritter Island Volcano —Lateral Collapse and the Tsunami of 1888".  
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