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Description[edit | edit source]
The Papuans are the indigenous inhabitants of the island of New Guinea. They are the descendants of the people who first settled the island 40,000 years ago. Agriculture was developed in the New Guinean Highlands about 6,000 years ago, though many Papuan tribes, especially those on the coast, continue to live as hunter-gatherers. Some Papuan tribes are still uncontacted. The various Papua groups are highly diverse culturally, ethnically and linguistically; New Guinea harbors no less than a quarter of the world's languages. The western part of the island was colonised by the Dutch, the eastern part by the Germans, the British, the Japanese and finally the Australians. The eastern part has been independent as Papua New Guinea since 1975. West Papua was occupied by Indonesia upon the withdrawal of the Dutch in 1963, though indigenous activists have been struggling for independence ever since.