Bougainville is the newest country yet?
There may be a new country on the world map, and its name is Bougainville. The Autonomous Region of Bougainville, a chain of islands that lie 959 kilometres northwest of Papua New Guinea’s capital, Port Moresby, has voted for independence.
After the voting, it was found that 97.7% of voters chose independence from Papua New Guinea.
The referendum, however, is non-binding. The ultimate outcome will be determined by a vote in Papua New Guinea’s National Parliament following negotiations between the Papua New Guinean government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government.
When Papua New Guinea was granted independence in 1975, Bougainville became a province. But the residents were not happy about it.
The new country – should it happen – would be small, with a land mass of less than 10,000 square kilometres (slightly larger than Cyprus, and slightly smaller than Lebanon). The population of the country is just over 2 lacs.
The country is rich in natural resources – especially copper, which has been extracted on a large scale since the 1960s under Australian administration.
Major towns on Bougainville include Arawa and Kieta.