One of the 22 provinces of Papua New Guinea and the only province with a special status of the autonomous region. It is located on an island in the Pacific Ocean. Geographically, in cultural and linguistic terms, Bougainville is part of the Solomon Islands chain, and not of the islands that make up Papua New Guinea. The region received broad autonomy in 2000 during the conflict between the separatists and the central government.
The province is considered one of the world's largest copper deposits. Since 1972, the copper shaft of Panguna operated on the island. It was the only major mine in Papua New Guinea until the mid-1980s, and it was crucial for the economies of both Papua New Guinea and Bougainville. In 1989, during the civil war, Panguna was closed, which adversely affected the economy of Bougainville. Currently, the talks about the opening of the mine periodically arise, but the mine itself is in an emergency state and needs a large-scale restoration. In addition, the public is strongly against the resumption of work of the harmful to the environment mine.
In Bougainville, there are about 20 different language groups, and they can be considered collectively "Bouganvilleans". The main distinguishing feature of Bouganvilleans is the darker skin color than the main population of Papua New Guinea has. In addition, the history, economic and environmental problems associated with the mining of copper contributed to the formation of the common identity of the Bouganvilleans. The inhabitants of the island belong to the Melanesians, and the peoples related to them inhabit the neighboring Bougainville Solomon Islands.
The current ethnopolitical situation in the region is characterized by relative stability. This is due to the fact that the region has a fairly wide autonomy. At the same time, the province lives in anticipation of a referendum on the full independence of Bougainville, which, in accordance with the agreement of 2000, is to be held in 2019.