Melanesians


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Melanesians

 

a group of kindred peoples constituting the indigenous population of Melanesia and numbering about 1.1 million (1970, estimate). They speak various Melanesian languages, and anthropologically they belong to the Melanesian race. Nominally the Melanesians are Christians, but traditional beliefs are still strong.

By the beginning of the 19th century the Melanesians had reached different stages of the disintegration of the primitive communal system and were skilled shipbuilders and navigators. The colonialists brought the slave trade, expropriation of land, and forced labor on plantations and in mines, and many Melanesian groups completely or partially died out. Only in the 1920’s and 1930’s did the Melanesian population begin to increase. The main occupations are tropical farming and fishing. After World War II the Melanesians began a national liberation struggle against the colonialists. A working class is arising in the major cities, and the amalgamation of previously separate tribes has intensified.

REFERENCES

Narody Avstralii i Okeanii. Moscow, 1956.
Puchkov, P. I. Naselenie Okeanii. Moscow, 1967.
Puchkov, P. I. Formirovanie naseleniia Melanezii. Moscow, 1968.
Worsley, P. Kogda vostrubit truba. Moscow, 1963. (Translated from English.)

V. M. BAKHTA

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