History in Papua New Guinea
This diverse land was settled more than 30,000 years ago, although the first European sighting was not made until 1512 when Portuguese explorer D'Abreu sailed by the mainland. The Dutch explorers who followed christened it New Guinea, named after Guinea in Africa. In the years that followed, missionaries and traders exerted a strong influence over the local culture, and today Papua New Guinea's cultural heritage has largely been preserved by small, independent villages.
World War II
When World War II broke out, parts of the country were occupied by the Japanese and fierce fighting took place with the Allied forces. Today, there are relics dating from these battles throughout the country, including sunken battleships and aircraft in the waters around Madang and Rabaul. Papua New Guinea became independent in 1975 but retains strong ties to Australia.