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What is Bougainville?

Bougainville is a small province within Papua New Guinea. It has held its special status as an autonomous region of the country since 2001 following a decade long civil war. Bougainville consists of a small cluster of islands, the two biggest of which are Bougainville Island and Buka Island.

Bougainville is a stunning tropical island and is part of the Solomon Islands rain forests ecoregion. It is mostly forested with a diverse tropical ecosystem. The island has a number of active, dormant, or inactive volcanoes with the tallest rising to 2,715 m (8907 feet). The main economy on the island has been copper mining.

An independence referendum in Bougainville in 2019 saw 98 percent of voters favor independence from Papua New Guinea. While the referendum is non binding, Papua New Guinea is expected to eventually approve Bougainville’s independene.

In July 2021, an agreement was reached between the governments of Papua New Guinea and Bougainville, in which Bougainville will gain independence by 2027 if it is ratified by Papua New Guinea’s parliament.

Bougainville is widely seen as a strong contender as the newest independent and universally recognized country.

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