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|Area||785,753 km2 (303,381 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||4,884 m (16,024 ft)|
|Highest point||Puncak Jaya|
National Capital District
|Largest settlement||Port Moresby|
|Population||~ 11,306,940 (2014)|
|Pop. density||14 /km2 (36 /sq mi)|
|Ethnic groups||Papuan and Austronesian|
The island has been known by various names.
The name Papua was used to refer to parts of the island before contact with the West. Its etymology is unclear; one theory states that it is from Tidore, the language used by the Sultanate of Tidore, which controlled parts of the island's coastal region. The name came from papo (to unite) and ua (negation), which means "not united" or, "territory that geographically is far away (and thus not united)".
Ploeg reports that the word papua is often said to derive from the Malay word papua or pua-pua, meaning "frizzly-haired", referring to the highly curly hair of the inhabitants of these areas. Another possibility, put forward by Sollewijn Gelpke in 1993, is that it comes from the Biak phrase sup i papwa which means 'the land below [the sunset]' and refers to the islands west of the Bird's Head, as far as Halmahera. Whatever the origin of the name Papua, it came to be associated with this area, and more especially with Halmahera, which was known to the Portuguese by this name during the era of their colonization in this part of the world.
When the Portuguese and Spanish explorers arrived in the island via the Spice Islands, they also referred to the island as Papua. However, the name New Guinea would later be used by Westerners starting with the Spanish explorer Yñigo Ortiz de Retez in 1545, referring to the similarities of the indigenous people's appearance with the natives of the Guinea region of Africa. The Dutch, who arrived later under Jacob Le Maire and Willem Schouten, called it Schouten island, but later this name is used only to refer to islands to the north of the coast of Papua proper, the Schouten Islands or Biak Island. When the Dutch colonized it as part of Netherlands East Indies, they called it Nieuw Guinea .
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