Manus Island

Manus Island is part of Manus Province in northern Papua New Guinea and is the largest of the Admiralty Islands. It is the fifth-largest island in Papua New Guinea, with an area of 2,100 km2 (810 sq mi), measuring around 100 km × 30 km (60 mi × 20 mi). According to the 2000 census, the whole Manus Province had a population of 43,387, rising to 50,321 as of 2011 Census.[1] Lorengau, the capital of Manus Province, is located on the island. Momote Airport, the terminal for Manus Province, is located on nearby Los Negros Island. A bridge connects Los Negros Island to Manus Island and the province capital of Lorengau. In addition to its resident population, asylum seekers have been relocated here from Australia between 2001 and 2004 and since 2012.[2][3]

Manus Island is covered in rugged jungles which can be broadly described as lowland tropical rain forest. The highest point on Manus Island is Mt. Dremsel 718 metres (2,356 ft) above sea level at the centre of the south coast. Manus Island is volcanic in origin and probably broke through the ocean's surface in the late Miocene, 8 to 10 million years ago. The substrate of the island is either directly volcanic or from uplifted coral limestone.

Manus Island is home to the emerald green snail, whose shells were harvested to be sold as jewellery; this continues, albeit at a lesser scale, as due to the snail's status as a threatened species, its sale for this purpose is now illegal in many jurisdictions.

Admiralty Islands Topography with labels
Admiralty Islands
Manus is located in Papua New Guinea
Coordinates2°5′37.28″S 146°58′17.33″E / 2.0936889°S 146.9714806°ECoordinates: 2°5′37.28″S 146°58′17.33″E / 2.0936889°S 146.9714806°E
ArchipelagoAdmiralty Islands
Area2,100 km2 (810 sq mi)
Length100 km (60 mi)
Width30 km (19 mi)
Highest elevation718 m (2,356 ft)
Highest pointMt. Dremsel
Papua New Guinea (PNG)
ProvinceManus Province
Largest settlementLorengau (pop. 5,829)


The first recorded sighting of Manus Island by Europeans was by Spanish explorer Álvaro de Saavedra on board the carrack Florida on 15 August 1528, while trying to return to New Spain from the Maluku Islands. Saavedra circled Manus Island, and landed possibly on Murai islet to the south west. Murai was found to be inhabited and some natives came out in canoes, attacking with bows and arrows. Three of these men were captured by the Spaniards, and were returned by Saavedra to the same island, on his second attempt to return to North America the following year. Manus Island was charted as Urays la Grande or Big Urays, which is probably a projection of Murai to signify "big Murai".[4]

In World War II Manus Island was the site of an observation post manned by No. 4 Section, 'B' Platoon, 1st Independent Company, Australian Imperial Force,[5] who also provided medical treatment to the inhabitants.[6] Manus was first bombed by the Japanese on 25 January 1942, the radio mast being the main target.[5] On 8 April 1942 an Imperial Japanese force consisting of the light cruiser Tatsuta, destroyer Mutsuki and a troop transport ship Mishima Maru entered Lorengau harbour and several hundred Japanese soldiers of the 8th Special Base Force swarmed ashore onto the Australian-mandated island. The vastly outnumbered Australians withdrew into the jungle.[5]

Later in 1942, Japan established a military base on Manus Island. This was attacked by United States forces in the Admiralty Islands campaign of February – March 1944.[7] An Allied naval base was established at Seeadler Harbor on the island and it later supported the British Pacific Fleet.

In 1950–51 the Australian government conducted the last trials against Japanese war criminals on the island.[8] One case heard was that of Takuma Nishimura, who faced an Australian military court. He had already been tried by a British military court in relation to the Sook Ching massacre in Singapore and sentenced to life imprisonment. While on a stopover in Hong Kong he was intercepted by Australian Military Police. Evidence was presented stating that Nishimura had ordered the shootings of wounded Australian and Indian soldiers at Parit Sulong and the disposal of bodies so that there was no trace of evidence. In this trial he was found guilty and was hanged on 11 June 1951.

American anthropologist Margaret Mead lived on Manus Island before and after the war, and gave detailed accounts in Growing up in New Guinea and New Lives for Old.

Detention centre

Australia set up the Manus Regional Processing Centre on Manus Island in 2001 as part of its Pacific Solution. The last inmate in that period was Aladdin Sisalem, who was kept as a lone inmate from July 2003 until he was finally granted asylum in Australia in June 2004. In August 2012, the Australian Government controversially[9] announced it would resume offshore processing; in November 2012 the relocation of asylum-seekers to Manus Island resumed.[10]

The Australian government's decision to resume offshore processing has met with domestic political opposition from the Greens,[11] and a controversial decision by the Australian government in July 2015 to make reporting of abuse within the centre illegal prompted staff at those centres to begin a campaign of civil disobedience.[12]

On 26 April 2016, the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea ruled that the detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island was illegal.[13] Prime Minister Peter O'Neill announced that the centre would be closed.[14]

Australia's immigration minister, Peter Dutton, confirmed on 17 August 2016 that the centre was to be closed, but no timescale was given.[15] The Centre was formally closed on 31 October 2017.[16] However, nearly 600 men refused to leave the centre claiming ".., to fear for their safety...", according to Minister Dutton.[17] A notice posted during the night by PNG Immigration authorities said "The Manus RPC will close at 5 pm today" (31 October), and that all power, water and food supply would cease.[18] The PNG military took control of the area.[19] On 22 November 2017, Papua New Guinea Police moved in to try to get the more than 350 men remaining in the centre to leave.[20]

Alternative accommodation was provided at the East Lorengau Refugee Transit Centre, Hillside Haus and West Lorengau Haus.[21] On 23 November 2017, all remaining men were removed to their new accommodations.[22][23]

Naval bases

On September 20, 2018, The Australian reported that Australia and Papua New Guinea were discussing providing port facilities to the Royal Australian Navy and US Navy on Manus Island.[24] Australia and the United States would help expand Lombrum Naval Base, so there would be facilities for Australian naval vessels there.[25] The newspaper reported that Australia was countering interest China had placed in expanding Papua New Guinea's port facilities at Wewak, Kikori, Vanimo and Manus Island. Manus Island is the most important of these four ports, as it is a deep-water port near important shipping lanes. The RAN operated a naval base on Manus Island from the 1950s until transferred to the Papua New Guinea Defence Force in 1974. [26]

See also


  1. ^ "Papua New Guinea".
  2. ^ Matt Siegel: "Australia Adopts Tough Measures to Curb Asylum Seekers", in The New York Times, 19 July 2013
  3. ^ Refuge prisons in Manus Roger Cohen, NYTimes, December 9, 2016
  4. ^ Sharp, Andrew (1960). The discovery of the Pacific Islands. Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. 19, 20.
  5. ^ a b c Klemen, L (1999–2000). "Manus Island, experience of No. 4 Section, 'B' Platoon, First Independent Company, Australian Imperial Force". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942.
  6. ^ Klemen, L (1999–2000). "Medical Patrol on Manus Island, 1941". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942.
  7. ^ Video: Americans Win New Airbases In South Pacific Etc. (1944). Universal Newsreel. 1944. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
  8. ^ Piccigallo, Philip; The Japanese on Trial; Austin 1979; ISBN 0-292-78033-8, ch.: "Australia".
  9. ^ "United Nations rejects Australia's off-shore processing plans - Asia Pacific".
  10. ^ "Subscribe - theaustralian".
  11. ^ "End Cruel Refugee Detention". Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  12. ^ Farrell, Paul. "Detention centre staff speak out in defiance of new asylum secrecy laws". the Guardian. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  13. ^ "Papua New Guinea's Supreme Court rules detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island is illegal". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  14. ^ Stephanie Anderson (27 April 2016). "Manus Island detention centre to be shut, Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill says". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  15. ^ Doherty, Ben (17 August 2016). "Manus Island detention centre to close, Australia and Papua New Guinea agree". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
  16. ^ Manus refugees given ultimatum as Turnbull government comes under pressure
  17. ^ "Refugees 'scared' to leave Australia camp". 31 October 2017.
  18. ^ Fox, Liam (31 October 2017). "Manus Island detention centre to permanently close today, 600 men refusing to leave". ABC News. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  19. ^ Riordan, Primrose; Brown, Greg. "Manus Island detention centre closure sets off 'looting' and protests". The Australian. News Corp Australia. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  20. ^ "PNG police move in to Manus Island detention centre". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 23 November 2017. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  21. ^ Fox, Liam; Yaxley, Louise (1 November 2017). "PNG army prepares to enter Manus Island centre, 600 men still inside". ABC News. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  22. ^ Baxendale, Rachel. "Manus Island: last of asylum seekers removed from detention centre". News Limited. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  23. ^ Davidson, Helen; Wahlquist, Calla (31 October 2017). "Power shut off to final Manus compounds as 600 men refuse to leave". British Broadcasting Corporation – via
  24. ^ "Move to head off China with Australian base in PNG". The Australian. 20 September 2018. Retrieved 20 September 2018. Australian officials have expressed concerns over Chinese interest in the redevelopment of four PNG ports, at Wewak, Kikori, Vanimo and Manus Island, fearing the Asian superpower is working towards gaining a military foothold in the region.
  25. ^ Dziedzic, Stephen (17 November 2018). "US to partner with Australia and PNG on Manus Island naval base". ABC News. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  26. ^ Moore, John, ed. (1977). Jane's Fighting Ships 1977–78. Jane's Fighting Ships (80th ed.). London: Jane's Yearbooks. p. 20. ISBN 0531032779. OCLC 18207174.

External links

Admiralty Island cuscus

The Admiralty Island cuscus or Manus Island spotted cuscus (Spilocuscus kraemeri) is a species of marsupial in the family Phalangeridae. It is endemic to the Admiralty Islands of Papua New Guinea. It is the smallest member of the genus Spilocuscus, and the female has a black back, while the male has blackish spots on a white background. Both genders have rufous heads.

Listed as Near Threatened because, although it is common within its small range (its extent of occurrence is less than 2,000 km2), there is continuing decline in both quality of habitat and numbers of individuals, thus making the species close to qualifying for Vulnerable under criterion B. The increasing human population pressures and the low fecundity of this relatively long-lived animal are cause for concern. Populations of this species should be closely monitored.

Behrouz Boochani

Behrouz Boochani (born 23 July 1983) is an Iranian-Kurdish journalist, human rights defender, poet and film producer. He was born in western Iran. He was held in the Australian-run Manus Island detention centre from 2013 until its closure in 2017, and has remained on the island since then.

Boochani is the co-director, along with Iranian film maker Arash Kamali Sarvestani, of the documentary Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time, has published numerous articles in leading media internationally about the plight of refugees held by the Australian government on Manus Island, and has won several awards.

His memoir, No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison, won the Victorian Prize for Literature and the Victorian Premier's Prize for Nonfiction in January 2019. The book was tapped out on a mobile phone in a series of single messages over time and translated from Persian into English by Omid Tofighian.

Bismarck trumpet-eared bat

The Bismarck trumpet-eared bat (Kerivoula myrella), also known as the Manus Island woolly bat, is a species of vesper bat in the family Vespertilionidae.

It is found in subtropical or tropical dry forests.

Kurti language

Kurti is an Austronesian language spoken on the north coast of Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.

Leipon language

Leipon, or Pityilu, is an Austronesian language spoken on Hauwai, Ndrilo, and Pityilu islands, just off Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.

Likum language

The Likum language is a West Manus language spoken by approximately 80 people in western Manus Island, Manus Province of Papua New Guinea. Its speakers also use Nyindrou. Likum is classified as "definitely endangered" by UNESCO's Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger. It has SVO word order.

Lombrum Naval Base

Lombrum Naval Base or HMPNGS Tarangau is a naval military base operated by the Maritime Operations Element of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF). It is located on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. Lombrum is the home port of the PNGDF's Pacific-class patrol boat force.The Manus Regional Processing Centre was established at Lombrum in 2001.


Lorengau is the major town in Manus Province, Papua New Guinea. The town is located on the edge of Seeadler Harbour on Manus Island, in the Admiralty Islands, and in 2000 Lorengau was recorded to have a population of 5,829.

Los Negros Island

Los Negros Island is the third largest of the Admiralty Islands. It is significant because it contains the main airport of Manus Province on its eastern coastline, at Momote. It is connected to Lorengau, the capital of the province, on Manus Island via a highway and bridge across the Lonui Passage, which separates Los Negros from the larger Manus Island.

One of Australia's regional centres for asylum seekers caught in Australian waters, the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre, was situated on the island until it closed in November 2017. Remaining asylum seekers were as of February 2019 housed in accommodation in Lorengau.

Manus Island mosaic-tailed rat

The Manus Island mosaic-tailed rat or Manus melomys (Melomys matambuai) is a species of rodent in the family Muridae.

It is endemic to the island of Manus in Papua New Guinea where it occurs in forest habitats and is largely arboreal.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed its conservation status as being "endangered" because the natural forest on the island is progressively being cleared and the total area of occurrence of this species is less than 1,800 km2 (690 sq mi).

Manus Province

Manus Province is the smallest province in Papua New Guinea with a land area of 2,100 km², but with more than 220,000 km² of water. The provincial town of Manus is Lorengau and the total population is 60,485 (2011 census).

The province is made up of the Admiralty Islands (a group of 18 islands in the Bismarck Archipelago), as well as Wuvulu Island and nearby atolls in the west, which collectively are referred to as the Western Islands. The largest island in the group is Manus Island where Lorengau and an Australian immigration detention centre are located.

Manus Regional Processing Centre

The Manus Regional Processing Centre, or Manus Island Regional Processing Centre (MIRCP), was one of a number of offshore Australian immigration detention facilities. The centre was operated by Broadspectrum (formerly known as Transfield Services) on behalf of the Government of Australia, until Ferrovial bought out the company and its contract in April 2016. The Centre was located on the PNG Navy Base Lombrum (previously a Royal Australian Navy base called HMAS Tarangau) on Los Negros Island in Manus Province, Papua New Guinea.

It was formally closed on 31 October 2017; however hundreds of detainees refused to leave the centre. On 23 November 2017, all remaining men were removed, hundreds by force, to new accommodation on the island. A small number of refugees since been resettled in the United States as part of a refugee swap deal.

Twelve Australians of the Year protested the government's handling of the problem in November 2017. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has cited the centre as an "indictment of a policy meant to avoid Australia's international obligations."As of February 2019, controversy continues about the health, living conditions and future of the remaining men on the island as well as issues relating to the maintenance of the accommodation facilities.

Mondropolon language

The Mondropolon language is a West Manus language spoken by approximately 300 people on north-central Manus Island, Manus Province of Papua New Guinea. Its speakers also use Kurti. It has SVO word order.

Nyindrou language

The Nyindrou language is a West Manus language spoken by approximately 4200 people in the westernmost part of Manus Island, Manus Province of Papua New Guinea. It has SVO word order.

Pam Islands

The Pam Islands are an island group of the Admiralty Islands archipelago in the Bismarck Sea, within Papua New Guinea.

They are located to the south of Manus Island, to the south-west of Lou Island. The main island is Baluan Island, heavily forested, which has a settlement called Mouk on its northern coast.

The Baluan-Pam language is spoken here.

Ponam language

Ponam is an Austronesian language spoken on Ponam Island, just off Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.

Reza Barati

Reza Barati was a 23-year-old asylum seeker who was killed during rioting at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre (MIRPC), Papua New Guinea, on 17 February 2014. An Iranian Kurd, he had arrived in Australia on 24 July 2013 – just five days after the PNG solution was announced – and was sent to Manus Island in August.It was first reported that the cause of death was "severe head trauma", with the Cornall Review later concluding that the actual cause was cardiac arrest as a consequence of "severe brain injury", caused by being beaten by several assailants. Two Manusian men were convicted of murder in 2016, but others involved, said to be expats, have never been brought to justice.

Seeadler Harbor

Seeadler Harbor, also known as Port Seeadler, is located on Manus Island, Admiralty Islands, Papua New Guinea and played an important role in World War II. In German, "Seeadler" means sea eagle, pointing to German colonial activity between 1884 and 1919 in that area. The bay was named in 1900 after the German cruiser SMS Seeadler.

Sori-Harengan language

The Sori-Harengan language is a West Manus language spoken by approximately 570 people on the Sori and Harengan Islands, northwest off the coast of Manus Island, and on the northwestern coast Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. It has SVO word order.

Islands of Papua New Guinea


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