The mountain-rich and volcanically active Bougainville Island is the biggest member island of the Solomon Islands group in Papua New Guinea. The island lies on the northern end of the group that falls just within the terrain of Papua New Guinea, making it part of the Bougainville Province. The protective border of the Islands of Solomon is found just on the southern tip of the island.
With an area of around 9,300 square kilometers that measures 195 kilometers in length and 65 kilometers across, the island is an extremely rugged terrain dominated mostly by the Crown and Emperor Prince mountain ranges that form the island’s central spine. Aside from its hilly interior, the land also gives way to coastal lowlands and plains that edge the entire island. The island is heavily surrounded by coastal vegetations, mangrove forests, freshwater swamps and extensive undisturbed lowlands and rainforests.
People on this island were previously made part of New Guinea due to colonialism. Germany first occupied the island before the First World War. After the war, the island was returned to the Australian Administration as part of a U.N Trust Territory of New Guinea. When New Guinea was granted its independence from Australia, the island became part of the country granting freedom to the land and the people of Bougainville as well.
As part of its fresh autonomy arrangements, its previous name, North Solomon Province, is no longer used. The name Bougainville is now preferred for the island and its regions, without using the word province anymore.
With Bougainville having experienced such a rich history, it may take decades for them to fully take back control of what they lost. The secessionist war may be over but the island has never been back to normal as most locals have forgotten what normal is. The local economy is still largely tattered with destroyed infrastructure and resources to date.
Despite the lack of tourism opportunities, the land still remains an unsoiled piece of vast landscape that possesses the best views and holds the best adventures. The best place to visit in Bougainville is the northern island of Buka, which is the region’s current capital. Buka is generally a safe town where business and government operations run smoothly without any disturbances. Hotels and guests houses are available along with a number of villages and beaches that are a common destination in Buka. Tourists have the option of renting a car to drive themselves around the rough and rocky Buka Ring Road or they can also use taxis and trucks for hire.
Basically the Bougainville is rugged and very much undeveloped. Its topography is full of thick forests, towering volcanoes, tumbling rivers, plunging waterfalls, azure lagoons, giant caves and impenetrable valleys that are tucked into the mountains. Other great places to visit on the island is Tinputs and Wakunai located on the northeast part, Tarlena found on the northwestern area, Nissan Island found just offshore, and the major commercial towns of Araw and Kieta that have a thriving export economy. For now, visitors can have the island entirely to themselves on a do-it-yourself kind of travel experience. Although there is certainly a huge potential for tourism in Bougainville, it may take a huge amount of effort in order to do so.