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German New Guinea

German New Guinea (Ger. Deutsch-Neuguinea) was a German protectorate from 1884 to 1914, consisting of the northeastern part of New Guinea and several nearby island groups.

The main part of German New Guinea was formed by Kaiser-Wilhelmsland, the northeastern part of New Guinea, at present part of Papua New Guinea. The islands in the Bismarck Archipelago situated west of Kaiser-Wilhelmsland and nowadays also belonging to Papua New Guinea, were also part of the protectorate.

In addition most other German lands in the Pacific were part of German New Guinea: the German Solomon Islands (Buka , Bougainville and several smaller islands), the Carolines, Palau, the Marianas (except for Guam), the Marshall Islands and Nauru.


Although the western half of New Guinea had been administered by the Netherlands for some time, the eastern half had not yet been annexed by any European power until the 1880s. In 1883, the British colony of Queensland (Australia) annexed the southeastern part of New Guinea against the wishes of the British government. This initiated German interest in the remaining quarter of the island. On 3 November 1884, under the flag of the newly founded Neuguinea-Kompagnie (New Guinea Company), the German flag was flown over Kaiser-Wilhelmsland, the Bismarck Archipelago (formerly New Britain) and the German Solomon Islands.

5-pfennig overprint of 1897 used in 1899, probably at Stephansort
5-pfennig overprint of 1897 used in 1899, probably at Stephansort

On April 1, 1899, the German government formally took control of these lands, and the area became a protectorate. A treaty with Spain, signed later that year on July 30, ensured German control over several island groups in the Pacific, and these were added to the protectorate of German New Guinea. The Marshall Islands were added in 1906.

Following the outbreak of World War I, Australian troops captured Kaiser-Wilhelmsland and the nearby islands in 1914, while Japan occupied most of the remaining Pacific islands. After the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, Germany lost all its colonial possessions, including German New Guinea. It became the Territory of New Guinea under Australian administration until 1949 when it was merged with the Australian territory of Papua to eventually become the northern part of modern Papua New Guinea.

Postage stamps

20-pfennig "Yacht", postmarked Matupi , 11 March 1902
20-pfennig "Yacht", postmarked Matupi , 11 March 1902

The first postage stamps of the colony were issued in 1897, as overprints reading "Deutsch - / Neu-Guinea" on the current stamps of Germany. In 1901, the Yacht Issue included stamps for the colony, inscribed "DEUTSCH-NEU-GUINEA." The 5pf, 10pf, and 5m values were reprinted in 1914 on watermarked paper and inscribed "DEUTSCH-NEUGUINEA," but these did not reach the colony before it was occupied and were never put in use, nor was the reprint of the 3pf value made in 1919.

The stamps are available to collectors today at prices ranging from about $1 US, up to $500 for a validly used 5m stamp. Very few stamps of the higher values were ever used, and their prices are 10-20 times higher than for mint copies. Fake cancellations exist.

After the Australian occupation, stocks of the unwatermarked stamps, along with some registration label s, were overprinted with "G.R.I." and a value in pence or shillings; see New Britain for further details.

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Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45