Human remains have been found in Papua New Guinea that date back to about 50,000 years ago.
These ancient inhabitants of Papua New Guinea probably had their origins in Southeast Asia, themselves originating in Africa 50,000 to 70,000 years ago. New Guinea (as it used to be known), one of the first landmasses after Africa and Eurasia to be populated by modern humans, had its first migration at about the same time as Australia. Agriculture was independently developed in the New Guinea highlands around 7,000 BC, making it one of the few areas of original plant domestication in the world. A major migration of Austronesia speaking peoples came to coastal regions roughly 2,500 years ago, along with the introduction of pottery, pigs, and certain fishing techniques.
Some 300 years ago, the sweet potato entered New Guinea with its far higher crop yields transforming traditional agriculturre. It largely supplanted the previous staple, taro, and gave rise to a significant increase in population in the highlands. In the past, headhunting and cannibalism occurred in many parts of what is now named Papua New Guinea.
By the early 1950s, through administration and mission pressures, open cannibalism had almost entirely ceased. Europeans to sight Papua New Guinea first were probably Portuguese and Spanish navigators sailing in the South Pacific in the early 16th century. The principal island of Papua New Guinea was discovered around 1526-27 by Don Jorge de Meneses. Although European navigators visited and explored the Papua New Guinea islands for the next 170 years, little was known of the Papua New Guinea inhabitants until the late 19th century.
Source: PNG Tourism. Continue reading