Karkar Island
For the location in Syria, see Karkar.

Karkar Island is an oval-shaped volcanic island located in the Bismarck Sea
Bismarck Sea
The Bismarck Sea lies in the southwestern Pacific Ocean to the north of the island of Papua New Guinea and to the south of the Bismarck Archipelago and Admiralty Islands. Like the Bismarck archipelago, it is named in honour of the German chancellor Otto von Bismarck...

, about 30 kilometres off the north coast of mainland Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea , officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands...

 in Madang Province
Madang Province
Madang is a province on the northern coast of mainland Papua New Guinea. The province has many of the country's highest peaks, active volcanoes and its biggest mix of languages...

. The island is about 25 km in length and 19 km in width. In the centre is an active volcano with two nested caldera
A caldera is a cauldron-like volcanic feature usually formed by the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption, such as the one at Yellowstone National Park in the US. They are sometimes confused with volcanic craters...

s. Google Maps hosts a satellite image of the island.

The latest eruptions on this island occurred in the 1970s. The 1974-1975 eruption produced a large volume of lava which covered almost 70 percent of the inner caldera's floor, while 1979 produced no lava flow.

The population of approximately 50,000 is mostly Lutheran and Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

 and speaks the two languages Waskia
Waskia language
Waskia is a Papuan language of Papua New Guinea. It is spoken on half of Karkar Island, and a small part of the shore on the mainland, by 20,000 people; language use is vigorous. The Waskia share their island with speakers of Takia, and Oceanic language which has been restructured under the...

 and Takia
Takia language
Takia is an Austronesian language spoken by about 20,000 people on Karkar Island, Bagabag Island, and coastal villages Megiar and Serang, Madang Province, Papua New Guinea. Children are being discouraged from using Takia, and it is being supplanted by Tok Pisin and English...

. Most people also speak Tok Pisin, and English is taught in the schools. Neighboring islands are Bagabag (Papua New Guinea)
Bagabag (Papua New Guinea)
Bagabag is in the Madang Province of Papua New Guinea and it is a dormant volcano.Bagabag is the closest island to Karkar island. People from the last Karkar normally paddle to Bagabag to visit and come by the course of the ocean tide and current. The island is rich in betel-nut, local pigs and...

 and Manam
Manam, known locally as Manam Motu, is an island located in the Bismarck Sea across the Stephan Strait from the northeast coast of mainland Papua New Guinea. The island is 10 kilometers wide, and was created by the activity of the Manam Volcano, one of the country’s most active...


A single road runs around the entire length of the island. Karkar Secondary School is the only high school. There is one hospital, Gaubin Hospital, known formally as the Edwin & Tabitha Tscharke Memorial Hospital, which is run by the Lutheran Health Service and staffed by several rotating German doctors. The hospital includes a training center for Community Health Workers.

The two main exports from the island are Cacao and Coconuts
COcOnuts is the second album released by Jane, comprising Animal Collective member Panda Bear, and Scott Mou. It was originally self-released on CD-R's, but later became the first album released by Psych-o-path Records in 2005. The Psych-o-path version was remastered by Rusty Santos and Edik Kleyner....

, which can grow in the same soil due to vast height differences. Large plantations are generally family owned.

The coastal villages on the west part of the island: Kargos (population 150), Mom (800) and Marangis (600) have long been experiencing difficulties with water supply, with women needed to walk up the steep rocky slopes at least 45 min to the nearest spring. In 2009, a construction of the piped water supply is planned in this area, with estimated 1,730 people affected. OceansWatch
OceansWatch is an international not-for-profit NGO that works with sailors, divers and scientists worldwide to help coastal communities conserve their marine environments, develop sustainable livelihoods and ensure access to primary schools. OceansWatch was established in 2007...

 organized a water engineer from Auckland, NZ to work closely with local tradesmen and a volunteers from the Baha'i Faith.

During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the Imperial Japanese occupied the island. The Australian 37th/52nd Battalion
37th/52nd Battalion (Australia)
The 37th/52nd Battalion was an infantry battalion of the Australian Army. Formed in 1930 from two previously existing Militia battalions, the battalion remained on the Australian order of battle until 1937. During World War II it was revived in 1942 and subsequently saw active service with the 4th...

 landed on 2 June 1944, to find that the Japanese had evacuated the island and Australian 5th Division troops land on the island at Biu Bay and Kavilo Bay on 6 June 1944.

See also

  • List of volcanoes in Papua New Guinea

The island was first discovered by Willem Schouten
Willem Schouten
Willem Cornelisz Schouten was a Dutch navigator for the Dutch East India Company. He was the first to sail the Cape Horn route to the Pacific Ocean.- Biography :Willem Cornelisz Schouten was born in c...

 and Jacob le Maire
Jacob Le Maire
Jacob Le Maire was a Dutch mariner who circumnavigated the earth in 1615-16. The strait between Tierra del Fuego and Isla de los Estados was named the Le Maire Strait in his honor, though not without controversy...

 and called "High island". In 1643 Abel Tasman
Abel Tasman
Abel Janszoon Tasman was a Dutch seafarer, explorer, and merchant, best known for his voyages of 1642 and 1644 in the service of the VOC . His was the first known European expedition to reach the islands of Van Diemen's Land and New Zealand and to sight the Fiji islands...

 passed the island. William Dampier
William Dampier
William Dampier was an English buccaneer, sea captain, author and scientific observer...

 visited the island, probably in 1699. The vulcano erupted in 1895. The land was covered with the volcanic andesitic lava
Lava refers both to molten rock expelled by a volcano during an eruption and the resulting rock after solidification and cooling. This molten rock is formed in the interior of some planets, including Earth, and some of their satellites. When first erupted from a volcanic vent, lava is a liquid at...

. The soil
Soil is a natural body consisting of layers of mineral constituents of variable thicknesses, which differ from the parent materials in their morphological, physical, chemical, and mineralogical characteristics...

 is very fertile and used for growing food crop and cash crop
Cash crop
In agriculture, a cash crop is a crop which is grown for profit.The term is used to differentiate from subsistence crops, which are those fed to the producer's own livestock or grown as food for the producer's family...

. The island is full of betel-nut, mustard plant
Mustard plant
Mustards are several plant species in the genera Brassica and Sinapis whose small mustard seeds are used as a spice and, by grinding and mixing them with water, vinegar or other liquids, are turned into the condiment known as mustard or prepared mustard...

 and lime
Lime (fruit)
Lime is a term referring to a number of different citrus fruits, both species and hybrids, which are typically round, green to yellow in color, 3–6 cm in diameter, and containing sour and acidic pulp. Limes are a good source of vitamin C. Limes are often used to accent the flavors of foods and...

. The island is known for breath taking and eye capturing view from the mountain looking down to the beautiful Madang
Madang is the capital of Madang Province and is a town with a population of 27,420 on the north coast of Papua New Guinea. It was first settled by the Germans in the 19th century....

 town. The volcanic island is a place you can't forget once you enter into its virgin rainforest
Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with definitions based on a minimum normal annual rainfall of 1750-2000 mm...

. It is just another heaven on earth
Heaven on Earth
Heaven on Earth are a husband and wife duo formed in England in 1983 by members Joe Ortiz and Pauly Ortiz ....

. Many things which you have not seen and experienced in your life will happen at the volcanic site. But mind you, this is a sacred site for the islanders. Tourist and those who are not from the island are advised to seek advice from any islander and must be escorted by the locals to that sacred place. The consequences this can be very heartbreaking and many outsiders have lost their life through out the history even when most people on the island are very friendly and kind.
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