By Andrea Romano
January 04, 2020
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There’s a real chance the world will have to update their maps very soon.

Citizens of Bougainville, an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea, overwhelmingly voted for independence on Dec. 11, which means it may become the world’s newest country, CNN reported.

A whopping 98 percent of people in the region voted in favor of the historic referendum, according to CNN. However, there are still a number of things that need to happen before Bougainville can officially become its own country.

But what, exactly, is Bougainville? According to Public Radio International (PRI), it’s a small province within Papua New Guinea. It has held its special status as an autonomous region of the country since 2001 following a long war. Bougainville consists of a small cluster of islands, the two biggest of which are Bougainville Island and Buka Island.

According to PRI, the government of Papua New Guinea would have to ratify the outcome of the vote in order for Bougainville to become its own country. This is fairly likely to happen, though Bougainvilleans may have some challenges if it does, especially in terms of sustaining its economy, PRI reported.

Bougainville is an incredibly beautiful place to visit, though the journey can be quite difficult, according to CNN. Unfortunately, there are no direct flights to Bougainville. Instead, travelers can hop over from the nearby Solomon Islands, or go through Papua New Guinea, which has a visa upon arrival program for travelers from certain countries, including the U.S., Canada, Japan, and New Zealand. This means that residents from these countries don’t have to organize a visa in advance.

From there, travelers can hire a local boat, though it will cost a small fee. Since tourism in Bougainville is a relatively new industry, there are no official ferry companies, according to CNN. Most places on the island are also not equipped with regular Wi-Fi access, so it’s best to bring cash and get ready to unplug.

Travelers willing and able to embark on a particularly long trip, especially those coming from the U.S., Canada, and Europe, will be rewarded with gorgeous, unspoiled beaches, plus plenty of opportunities for swimming, kayaking, and surfing.