January 22, 2008

The Least Favorite Floor Puzzle In Free & Independent Papua New Guinea


The kid's been something of a puzzle fanatic for a while now, which gives the grandparents just the in they need to shower her with unbidden gifts. Making the most of it, we've been explaining what states, countries, and continents are as we do these giant floor puzzle maps published by Mudpuppy.

See, because on this Our World Floor Map illustrated by Kaori Watanabe, the continents are all color-coded: there's Africa, which is tan; and Asia's green; Australia's yellow; Antarc--


Uh, no, that island is actually two countries: Papua New Guinea, and part of Indonesia. Did you know Indonesia's a country made of hundreds of isl--

No, I know it's the same color as Australia, but it's not part of Austr--

No, they just needed a way to show that the island is two different countries.

That's true, but Melanesia's not a separate continent. It's--you know what, let's just look it up on the computer:

After being colonised by three external powers since 1884, Papua New Guinea gained its independence from Australia in 1975.
See, honey, in the Japanese edition of the puzzle, all these countries are red because they're part of the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere.

Celebrate old school colonialism with Mudpuppy's Our World Floor Puzzle, $16 [mudpuppy.com]

Papua New Guinea [wikipedia]


Note that New Zealand is also yellow (it's those two islands down by the lobster and it is also not part of Australia). In some views of the world, which are admittedly odd from a geology perspective, there is this "continent" called Oceania. (Australians on the whole are capable of simultaneously believing in this continent *and* believing that Australia is the largest island and the smallest continent. It's like light being a wave and a particle or something. By the way, some fraction of them also believe the Americas are one continent. But I digress.)

Anyway, Papua New Guinea is part of Oceania; Indonesia is part of Asia. New Zealand is also in Oceania. But not part of Australia.

[wait, NZ is a separate country from AUS? Also, Oceania was definitely not in our US geography curriculum. Wait, but geologically speaking, Australia-New Guinea is a continent, a single tectonic landmass, and Zealandia is another. Another continent. It all seems very in flux, and subject to new naming conventions at the whim of pointy-headed outsiders. A lot to explain to a 3yo. How about, "Perky New Zealand has own laws, continental shelf." -ed.]

How are Europe and Asia differentiated?

Is Russia all one color or is it divided between Europe and Asia? What about Turkey?

[europe and asia are different colors. Turkey looks like it's in Asia, at least the Hagia Sofia is. -ed.]

Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia. Eastasia is our ally.

[personally, I blame the Submariner. -ed.]

I was momentarily afraid our map puzzle had the same issue (but less curious kids) but as it turns out, PNG is orange. A very similar orange to Australia though..

I was going to explain that PNG is actually part of Oceania, but it seems someone beat me to it.

No, you've all been mislead.

The Australian continent (not the Commonwealth) consists of the mainland & the islands of New Guinea and Tasmania. New Zealand is not on the Australian continental shelf.

Likewise England is part of Europe & Japan is part of Asia because they are on those continental shelfs. The reason there is a line in the middle of New Guinea is because it has the world's largest gold mine; which the Rockefellers wanted since 1936. The only way to mine it was to get John F Kennedy to trade West New Guinea to Indonesia in 1963 whose military then sold the mining rights to the Freeport company.

[d'oh, I should've read down this far before commenting about Zealandia. And you're quite right, the difficulty now becomes, not explaining to a 3yo why PNG is part of Australia-PNG, but why Indonesia isn't. Also, she thinks JFK is an airport. -ed.]

You seriously need to send your kid to a Montessori :)

(My kid has gone to the same academy for the last four years and her geography skills ROCK! There is nothing like your 3 year-old explaining what an "isthmus" is while drawing one across your tummy... LOVE IT)

No no no. See, the color change represents Wallace's Line, see, because you've got marsupials and other endemic Australian animals on Australia and not on...the western half of...Papua New Guinea...? Ah, they'll be under water eventually, anyway. Except for those 17,000-foot peaks on New Zealand, of course.

[thank you, this is now the officially nerdiest comment thread on DT. -ed.]

You seriously need to send your kid to a Montessori :)

(My kid has gone to the same academy for the last four years and her geography skills ROCK! There is nothing like your 3 year-old explaining what an "isthmus" is while drawing one across your tummy... LOVE IT)
posted by: dylandog at January 22, 2008 11:32 PM


ROFL! I think your kid know more about geography than most adults! You live in Papua New Guinea?!?! What? Where? I've heard it all! :) Rock on Daddytypes, rock on!

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