About Papua New Guinea

PNG Flag

Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands (the western portion of the island is occupied by the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua). It is located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, in a region defined since the early 19th century as Melanesia.  

Papua New Guineans, most of whom are Melanesians, vary widely in their physical, ethnic and cultural characteristics. Papua New Guinea is, in fact, the most heterogeneous country in the world.

The centuries old heritage of Melanesian society maintains a strong influence over most of the population. Long before the concept of democracy was established in Europe, Papua New Guinea communities were reaching decisions by consensus and not by the dictates of the most powerful member of the village. This concept of democratic consensus in decision-making is evident in most aspects of today's society.

The Papua New Guinean attitude to the land is also very different from many other countries. Land is not a commodity that can be bought and sold by individuals - it is a permanent and integral part of a village community. Land is owned and maintained by generations of clans. Although they cannot sell the land, individuals can hand over their own usage rights.

PNG Facts:

Prime Minister: Sir Peter Paire O'Neill (August 2011)

Area: 178,704 sq mi. (461,690 sq km)

Population (2012 est.): 6,310,129 (average annual rate of natural increase: 1.936%); birth rate: 26 births per 1000 population; infant mortality rate: 42 dearths per 1000 live births; life expectancy at birth: 66.46 years.

Capital and largest city (1009 est.): Port Moresby, 314,000

Monetary unit: Kina

Languages: English, Tok Pisin (a Melanesian Creole English), Hiri Motu, and 830 distinct native languages

Ethnicity/Race: Papuan, Melanesian, Negrito, Micronesian, Polynesian

Religions: Indigenous beliefs (Animism), Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, Assembly of God, Baptist & Evangelical

Literacy rate (15 and over): 57%

Economic summary:

GDP/PPP (2011 est.): $17.08 billion; $2,600 per capita.

Real growth rate: 8.9%.

Inflation: 8.4%.

Unemployment: 1.9% (2008 est.).

Labor force: 3.896 million; agriculture, 85%.

Agriculture: coffee, copra, palm oil, cocoa, tea, coconuts, vanilla.

Industry: coconut oil, plywood, wood chips, gold, silver.

Natural resources: copper, gold, silver, timber, natural gas.

Exports: $6.791 billion: gold, copper, coffee, palm oil, copra, timber, vanilla, lobster.

Imports: $4.07 billion: food, machinery, transport equipment, fuels, chemicals, consumer goods.

Major trading partners: Australia, U.K., Japan, Singapore, New Zealand, U.S., South Korea, Germany.

Member of Commonwealth of Nations

(Source: www.postcourier.com.pg/20070919/wehome.htm; https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/pp.html)