Bougainville

Bougainville

[boo-gan-veel for 1; boo-guhn-vil, boh-, Fr. boo-gan-veel for 2]
Bougainville, Louis Antoine de, 1729-1811, French navigator. He accompanied Montcalm to Canada as aide-de-camp, and he later (c.1764) established a colony on the Falkland Islands but had to surrender the settlement to Spain (1766). Accompanied by naturalists and astronomers, he made a voyage around the world (1767-69), visiting Tahiti in the Society Islands, the Samoan group, and the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu), and rediscovering the Solomon Islands, the largest of which (Bougainville, now a part of Papua New Guinea) is named for him. In the American Revolution he fought Admiral Hood at Martinique. His name is also given to the strait between Bougainville and Choiseul Island, to a strait in Vanuatu, and to the bougainvillaea vine. Bougainville's Description d'un voyage autour du monde (2 vol., 1771-72; tr. 1772) helped to popularize Rousseau's theories on the morality of humanity in its natural state and inspired Diderot to write (1772) his Supplément au voyage de Bougainville, a defense of sexual freedom.
Bougainville, volcanic island (1990 est. pop. 154,000), c.3,880 sq mi (10,050 sq km), SW Pacific, largest in the Solomon Islands chain. With Buka and smaller neighboring islands, it forms an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea. Bougainville is rugged and densely forested. There are several good harbors, with the main port at Kieta. The economy is mainly agricultural; major exports are copra, ivory nuts, green snails, cocoa, tortoise shells, and trepang. Copper mining was important until 1989 when an insurrection closed down the mine. The center of administration is at Sohano, a coral island in the Buka Passage.

The island was explored in 1768 by the French navigator Louis de Bougainville. Unlike the rest of the Solomon Islands, which became British territory, Bougainville and Buka became part of German New Guinea in 1884. Occupied by Australian forces during World War I, Bougainville was mandated to Australia by the League of Nations in 1920. During World War II the island was the last Japanese stronghold in the Solomons. It became part of Papua New Guinea in 1973, despite strong secessionist sentiment. A bloody secessionist uprising, begun in the late 1980s, persisted through much of the 1990s; in 1998 a cease-fire, monitored by Australian-led forces, went into effect. A peace accord granting Bougainville broad autonomy and promising a referendum on independence was signed in 2001. Peacekeeping forces were replaced by a smaller transition team in 2003, a constitution was adopted in 2004, and a government was elected in 2005. The autonomous government has faced challenges from a former militia group that was aligned with the Papua New Guinea government during the uprising and rebels in S Bougainville that have remained outside the peace accord, but some of the rebels signed a peace accord with the autonomous government in 2007.

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