eastern half of New Guinea, the world’s second-largest island, gained full
independence from Australia in 1975, when the nation of Papua New Guinea was
born. The indigenous population is one of the most heterogeneous in the world. The
harsh terrain and historic inter-tribal warfare has led to village isolation
and the proliferation of distinct
languages. The last Stone Age tribe was discovered as recently as 1980, hidden
in the jungle. The legend of the Asaro Mudmen says that they were defeated by an enemy tribe and forced to flee
into the Asaro River, where they waited until dusk before attempting to escape.
The enemy saw them rise from the banks, covered in mud and thought they were
spirits." -- Before They Pass Away
Logging operations and the recent discovery of oil by Malaysian companies have wiped out large portions of the Papuan forest.
Left: Asaro, Eastern Highlands, 2010