Bismarck Archipelago

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Bismarck Archipelago,

volcanic island group, 19,200 sq mi (49,730 sq km), SW Pacific, a part of Papua New Guinea. The group includes New BritainNew Britain,
volcanic island (1990 pop. 315,649), c.14,600 sq mi (37,810 sq km), SW Pacific, largest island of the Bismarck Archipelago and part of Papua New Guinea, in which it forms two provinces (East and West New Britain). Rabaul is the chief town and port.
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 (the largest island), New IrelandNew Ireland,
volcanic island (1990 pop. 64,615), c.3,340 sq mi (8,650 sq km), SW Pacific, in the Bismarck Archipelago, part of Papua New Guinea. New Ireland is largely mountainous, rising to c.4,000 ft (1,220 m). Much of the island is under cultivation, especially the east coast.
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, the Admiralty IslandsAdmiralty Islands,
group of 40 volcanic islands, c.800 sq mi (2,070 sq km), SW Pacific, in the Bismarck Archipelago and part of Papua New Guinea. Lorengau, the chief port and administrative center of the group, is on Manus, the largest island.
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, the Mussau Islands, New HanoverNew Hanover
or Lavongai
, volcanic island, c.460 sq mi (1,190 sq km), in the Bismarck Archipelago, part of Papua New Guinea. New Hanover is mountainous and densely forested. Coconuts, fishing, and timber are economically important.
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, the Vitu IslandsVitu Islands
, volcanic group, 37 sq mi (96 sq km), in the Bismarck Archipelago, part of Papua New Guinea. Garove and Unea are the largest islands. The group is the chief copra center of Papua New Guinea. Formerly called the French Islands, the group is sometimes known as the Witu Islands.
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, and the Duke of York IslandsDuke of York Islands,
group of 13 coral islands, 23 sq mi (60 sq km), SW Pacific, in the Bismarck Archipelago, part of Papua New Guinea. There are several coconut plantations. Duke of York Island is the largest of the group, which was formerly called Neu Lauenburg.
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. The islands are generally mountainous and have several active volcanoes. The chief agricultural products are copra, cacao, coffee, tea, and rubber. Some copper and gold are mined. The inhabitants are mainly Melanesians.

Visited in 1616 by the Dutch explorer Willem SchoutenSchouten, Willem Cornelis
, 1567?–1625, Dutch navigator. In 1615 he sailed from Texel island, Holland, in command of an expedition whose objective was to evade the trade restrictions of the Dutch East India Company by finding a new route to the Pacific.
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, the group became a German protectorate in 1884. Seized by Australian forces in World War I, the islands were mandated to Australia by the League of Nations in 1920. Japan operated several naval and air bases in the islands during World War II. In 1947, Australia received trusteeship over the group from the United Nations, which were administered as part of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. The archipelago was included in Papua New GuineaPapua New Guinea
, officially Independent State of Papua New Guinea, independent Commonwealth nation (2005 est. pop. 5,545,000), 183,540 sq mi (475,369 sq km), SW Pacific.
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 when it established as a self-governing country in 1973.

Bismarck Archipelago

a group of over 200 islands in the SW Pacific, northeast of New Guinea: part of Papua New Guinea. Main islands: New Britain, New Ireland, Lavongai, and the Admiralty Islands. Chief town: Rabaul, on New Britain. Pop.: 424 000 (1995 est.). Area: 49 658 sq. km (19 173 sq. miles)