Coordinates: 6°S 147°E / 6°S 147°E / -6; 147
Independent State of Papua New Guinea
Independen Stet bilong Papua Niugini
Papua Niu Gini
Motto: "Unity in diversity"
Anthem: O Arise, All You Sons 
Location of Papua New Guinea (green)
and largest city
9°30′S 147°07′E / 9.500°S 147.117°E / -9.500; 147.117
PNG Sign Language
Papua New Guinean
• Prime Minister
Independence from Australia
• Papua and
New Guinea Act 1949
1 July 1949
• Declared and recognised
16 September 1975
462,840 km2 (178,700 sq mi) (54th)
• Water (%)
• 2016 census preliminary estimate
8,084,999  (101st)
• 2000 census
15/km2 (38.8/sq mi) (201st)
$29.481 billion (139th)
• Per capita
$21.189 billion (115th)
• Per capita
low · 154th
Papua New Guinean kina
Papua New Guinean kina (PGK)
AEST (UTC+10, +11)
Drives on the
ISO 3166 code
New Guinea (PNG; /ˈpæpuə njuː ˈɡɪniː, ˈpɑː-, -pju-/,
US: /ˈpæpjuə, pɑːˈpuːə/; Tok Pisin: Papua Niugini; Hiri
Motu: Papua Niu Gini), officially the Independent State of Papua New
Guinea, is an Oceanian country that occupies the eastern half of the
New Guinea and its offshore islands in Melanesia, a region
of the southwestern
Pacific Ocean north of Australia. Its capital,
located along its southeastern coast, is Port Moresby. The western
New Guinea forms the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West
At the national level, after being ruled by three external powers
since 1884, Papua
New Guinea established its sovereignty in 1975. This
followed nearly 60 years of Australian administration, which started
during World War I. It became an independent
Commonwealth realm in
1975 with Queen
Elizabeth II as its head of state and became a member
Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations in its own right.
New Guinea is one of the most culturally diverse countries in
the world. It is also one of the most rural, as only 18 percent of its
people live in urban centres. There are 852 known languages in the
country, of which 12 now have no known living speakers. Most of
the population of more than 7 million people live in customary
communities, which are as diverse as the languages. The country is
one of the world's least explored, culturally and geographically. It
is known to have numerous groups of uncontacted peoples, and
researchers believe there are many undiscovered species of plants and
animals in the interior.
New Guinea is classified as a developing economy by the
International Monetary Fund. Strong growth in Papua New Guinea's
mining and resource sector led to the country becoming the sixth
fastest-growing economy in the world in 2011. Growth was expected
to slow once major resource projects came on line in 2015. Mining
remains a major economic factor, however. Local and national
governments are discussing the potential of resuming mining operations
in Panguna mine in Bougainville Province, which has been closed since
the civil war in the 1980s–1990s. Nearly 40 percent of the
population lives a self-sustainable natural lifestyle with no access
to global capital.
Most of the people still live in strong traditional social groups
based on farming. Their social lives combine traditional religion with
modern practices, including primary education. These societies and
clans are explicitly acknowledged by the Papua New Guinea
Constitution, which expresses the wish for "traditional villages and
communities to remain as viable units of Papua New Guinean
society" and protects their continuing importance to local and
national community life.
2 Government and politics
2.2 Foreign policy
2.4 Human rights
2.5 Administrative divisions
3.3 Environmental issues
4.1 Land tenure
8 Science and technology
10 See also
12.1 Further reading
12.2 Primary sources
13 External links
Main article: History of Papua New Guinea
Kerepunu women at the marketplace of Kalo, British New Guinea, 1885
Slaked lime holder, late 19th or early 20th century. The holder is
decorated with wood carving of crocodile and bird. Details are
emphasised with a white paint. The central portion, hollow to hold the
slaked lime, is made of bamboo. The joints are covered with basketry
work. The device is used in conjunction with chewing betel nut.
Archaeological evidence indicates that humans first arrived in Papua
New Guinea around 42,000 to 45,000 years ago. They were descendants of
migrants out of Africa, in one of the early waves of human
Agriculture was independently developed in the
New Guinea highlands
around 7000 BC, making it one of the few areas in the world where
people independently domesticated plants. A major migration of
Austronesian-speaking peoples to coastal regions of
New Guinea took
place around 500 BC. This has been correlated with the introduction of
pottery, pigs, and certain fishing techniques.
In the 18th century, traders brought the sweet potato to New Guinea,
where it was adopted and became part of the staples. Portuguese
traders had obtained it from South America and introduced it to the
Moluccas. The far higher crop yields from sweet potato gardens
radically transformed traditional agriculture and societies. Sweet
potato largely supplanted the previous staple, taro, and resulted in a
significant increase in population in the highlands.
Although by the late 20th century headhunting and cannibalism had been
practically eradicated, in the past they were practised in many parts
of the country as part of rituals related to warfare and taking in
enemy spirits or powers. In 1901, on
Goaribari Island in the
Gulf of Papua, missionary Harry Dauncey found 10,000 skulls in the
island's Long Houses, a demonstration of past practices. According
to Marianna Torgovnick, writing in 1991, "The most fully documented
instances of cannibalism as a social institution come from New Guinea,
where head-hunting and ritual cannibalism survived, in certain
isolated areas, into the Fifties, Sixties, and Seventies, and still
leave traces within certain social groups."
Little was known in Europe about the island until the 19th century,
although Portuguese and Spanish explorers, such as Dom Jorge de
Meneses and Yñigo Ortiz de Retez, had encountered it as early as the
16th century. Traders from Southeast Asia had visited New Guinea
beginning 5,000 years ago to collect bird of paradise plumes.
The country's dual name results from its complex administrative
history before independence. The word papua is derived from an old
local term of uncertain origin. "New Guinea" (Nueva Guinea) was
the name coined by the Spanish explorer Yñigo Ortiz de Retez. In
1545, he noted the resemblance of the people to those he had earlier
seen along the Guinea coast of Africa. Guinea, in its turn, is
etymologically derived from Portuguese word Guiné. The name is one of
several toponyms sharing similar etymologies, ultimately meaning "land
of the blacks" or similar meanings, in reference to the dark skin of
New Guinea from 1884 to 1919. Germany and Britain controlled the
eastern half of New Guinea.
In the nineteenth century, Germany ruled the northern half of the
country for some decades, beginning in 1884, as a colony named German
New Guinea. In 1914 after the outbreak of the World War I, Australian
forces landed and captured German
New Guinea in a small military
Australia maintained occupation of the territory with its
forces through the war. After the war, in which Germany and the
Central Powers were defeated, the
League of Nations
League of Nations authorised
Australia to administer this area as a Mandate territory.
The southern half of the country had been colonised in 1884 by the
United Kingdom as British New Guinea. With the Papua Act 1905, the UK
transferred this territory to the newly formed Commonwealth of
Australia, which took on its administration. Additionally, from 1905,
New Guinea was renamed as the Territory of Papua. In contrast
to establishing an Australian mandate in former German New Guinea, the
League of Nations
League of Nations determined that Papua was an External Territory of
the Australian Commonwealth; as a matter of law it remained a British
possession. The difference in legal status meant that until 1949,
New Guinea had entirely separate administrations, both
controlled by Australia. These conditions contributed to the
complexity of organising the country's post-independence legal system.
Australian forces attack Japanese positions during the Battle of
Buna–Gona, 7 January 1943.
During World War II, the
New Guinea campaign (1942–1945) was one of
the major military campaigns and conflicts between
Japan and the
Allies. Approximately 216,000 Japanese, Australian, and US servicemen
World War II
World War II and the victory of the Allies, the two
territories were combined into the
Territory of Papua
Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
This was later referred to as "Papua New Guinea".
Australian patrol officer in 1964
The natives of Papua appealed to the
United Nations for oversight and
independence. The nation established independence from
Australia on 16
September 1975, becoming a Commonwealth realm, continuing to share
Elizabeth II as its head of state. It maintains close ties with
Australia, which continues to be its largest aid donor. Papua New
Guinea was admitted to membership in the
United Nations on 10 October
A secessionist revolt in 1975–76 on
Bougainville Island resulted in
an eleventh-hour modification of the draft Constitution of Papua New
Guinea to allow for Bougainville and the other eighteen districts to
have quasi-federal status as provinces. A renewed uprising on
Bougainville Island started in 1988 and claimed 20,000 lives until it
was resolved in 1997. Bougainville had been the chief mining region of
the country, generating 40% of the national budget. The native peoples
felt they were bearing the adverse environmental effects of the
mining, which poisoned the land, water and air, without gaining a fair
share of the profits.
The government and rebels negotiated a peace agreement that
established the Bougainville Autonomous District and Province. The
autonomous Bougainville elected
Joseph Kabui as president in 2005, who
served until his death in 2008. He was succeeded by his deputy John
Tabinaman as acting president while an election to fill the unexpired
term was organised.
James Tanis won that election in December 2008 and
served until the inauguration of John Momis, the winner of the 2010
elections. As part of the current peace settlement, a referendum on
independence is planned to be held in Bougainville sometime before
mid-2020. Preparations were underway in 2015.
Numerous Chinese have worked and lived in Papua New Guinea,
establishing Chinese-majority communities. Chinese merchants became
established in the islands before European exploration. Anti-Chinese
rioting involving tens of thousands of people broke out in May 2009.
The initial spark was a fight between ethnic Chinese and Papua New
Guinean workers at a nickel factory under construction by a Chinese
company. Native resentment against Chinese ownership of numerous small
businesses and their commercial monopoly in the islands led to the
rioting. The Chinese have long been merchants in Papua New
Government and politics
Main article: Politics of Papua New Guinea
New Guinea is a Commonwealth realm. Queen
Elizabeth II is its
sovereign and head of state. The constitutional convention, which
prepared the draft constitution, and Australia, the outgoing
metropolitan power, had thought that Papua
New Guinea would not remain
a monarchy. The founders, however, considered that imperial honours
had a cachet. The monarch is represented by the Governor-General
of Papua New Guinea, currently Bob Dadae. Papua
New Guinea (and the
Solomon Islands) are unusual among Commonwealth realms in that
governors-general are elected by the legislature, rather than chosen
by the executive branch.
The Prime Minister heads the cabinet, which consists of 31 MPs from
the ruling coalition, which make up the government. The current prime
minister is Peter O'Neill. The unicameral National Parliament has 111
seats, of which 22 are occupied by the governors of the 22 provinces
National Capital District (NCD). Candidates for members of
parliament are voted upon when the prime minister asks the
governor-general to call a national election, a maximum of five years
after the previous national election.
In the early years of independence, the instability of the party
system led to frequent votes of no confidence in parliament, with
resulting changes of the government, but with referral to the
electorate, through national elections only occurring every five
years. In recent years, successive governments have passed legislation
preventing such votes sooner than 18 months after a national election
and within 12-month of the next election. In December 2012, the first
two (of three) readings were passed to prevent votes of no confidence
occurring within the first 30 months. This restriction on votes of no
confidence has arguably resulted in greater stability, although
perhaps at a cost of reducing the accountability of the executive
branch of government.
Elections in PNG attract numerous candidates. After independence in
1975, members were elected by the first past the post system, with
winners frequently gaining less than 15% of the vote. Electoral
reforms in 2001 introduced the Limited Preferential Vote system (LPV),
a version of the Alternative Vote. The 2007 general election was the
first to be conducted using LPV.
Prime Minister Peter O'Neill
This section needs to be updated. Please update this article to
reflect recent events or newly available information. (October 2012)
In 2011 there was a constitutional crisis between the parliament-elect
Peter O'Neill (voted into office by a large majority
of MPs) and Sir Michael Somare, who was deemed by the supreme court
(in a December Opinion, 3:2) to retain office. The stand-off between
parliament and the supreme court continued until the July 2012
national elections, with legislation passed effectively removing the
chief justice and subjecting the supreme court members to greater
control by the legislature, as well as a series of other laws passed,
for example limiting the age for a prime minister. The confrontation
reached a peak, with the Deputy Prime Minister entering the supreme
court during a hearing, escorted by some police, ostensibly to arrest
the Chief Justice. There was strong pressure among some MPs to defer
the national elections for a further six months to one year, although
their powers to do that were highly questionable.
The parliament-elect prime minister and other cooler-headed MPs
carried the votes for the writs for the new election to be issued,
slightly late, but for the election itself to occur on time, thereby
avoiding a continuation of the constitutional crisis. The crisis was
tense at times, but largely restricted to the political and legal
fraternity, plus some police factions. The public and public service
(including most police and military) stood back. It was a period when,
with increased telecommunication access and use of social media
(notably Facebook and mobile phones), the public and students played
some part in helping maintain restraint and demanding the leadership
to adhere to constitutional processes. They insisted on having the
elections so that the people could say who should be their legitimate
representatives for the next five years.
Under an amendment of 2002, the leader of the party winning the
largest number of seats in the election is invited by the
governor-general to form the government, if he can muster the
necessary majority in parliament. The process of forming such a
coalition in PNG, where parties do not have much ideology, involves
considerable horsetrading right up until the last moment. Peter
O'Neill emerged as Papua New Guinea's prime minister after the July
2012 election, and formed a government with Leo Dion, the former
Governor of East
New Britain Province, as deputy prime minister.
The Parliament building of Papua
New Guinea in Port Moresby
Main article: Law of Papua New Guinea
The unicameral Parliament enacts legislation in the same manner as in
other jurisdictions that have "cabinet,"[clarification needed]
"responsible government," or "parliamentary democracy": it is
introduced by the executive government to the legislature, debated
and, if passed, becomes law when it receives royal assent by the
Governor-General. Most legislation is regulation implemented by the
bureaucracy under enabling legislation previously passed by
All ordinary statutes enacted by Parliament must be consistent with
the Constitution. The courts have jurisdiction to rule on the
constitutionality of statutes, both in disputes before them and on a
reference where there is no dispute but only an abstract question of
law. Unusual among developing countries, the judicial branch of
government in Papua
New Guinea has remained remarkably independent,
and successive executive governments have continued to respect its
The "underlying law" (Papua New Guinea's common law) consists of
principles and rules of common law and equity in England common
law as it stood on 16 September 1975 (the date of Independence), and
thereafter the decisions of PNG's own courts. The courts are directed
by the Constitution and, latterly, the Underlying Law Act, to take
note of the "custom" of traditional communities. They are to determine
which customs are common to the whole country and may be declared also
to be part of the underlying law. In practice, this has proved
extremely difficult and has been largely neglected. Statutes are
largely adapted from overseas jurisdictions, primarily
England. Advocacy in the courts follows the adversarial pattern of
other common-law countries.
This national court system, used in towns and cities, is supported by
a village court system in the more remote areas. The law underpinning
the village courts is 'customary law'.
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In foreign policy, Papua
New Guinea is a member of the Commonwealth of
Nations, Pacific Islands Forum, and the Melanesian Spearhead Group
(MSG) of countries. It was accorded Observer status within
1976, followed later by
Special Observer status in 1981. It is also a
APEC and an ACP country, associated with the European Union.
The country has a low-key initiative when it comes to the
Indonesia-sponsored genocide in West Papua due to its application in
ASEAN, where the headquarters is in Jakarta.
New Guinea has positive ties with
Australia and countries in
Oceania. It also has good ties with fellow-Christian country, the
Philippines, especially in the education sector. The country's policy
has been focusing on ties with Southeast Asia in recent years due to
its application in ASEAN, which is supported by the
Main article: Papua
New Guinea Defence Force
New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) is the military
organisation responsible for the defence of Papua New Guinea.
The unity shown by men, women and children on White Ribbon Day is an
important reminder that violence against women impacts on society as a
Main article: Human rights in Papua New Guinea
See also: Sexual violence in Papua New Guinea
New Guinea is often ranked as likely the worst place in the
world for violence against women. A 2013 study in The Lancet
found that 41% of men on Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea,
reported having raped a non-partner, while 14.1% reported having
committed gang rape. According to UNICEF, nearly half of reported
rape victims are under 15 years of age and 13% are under 7 years of
age. A report by
ChildFund Australia, citing former
Parliamentarian Dame Carol Kidu, claimed 50% of those seeking medical
help after rape are under 16, 25% are under 12, and 10% are under
8. Homosexual acts are prohibited by law in Papua New Guinea.
The 1976 Sorcery Act imposed a penalty of up to 2 years in prison for
the practice of "black" magic, until the Act was repealed in 2013.
An estimated 50–150 alleged witches are killed each year in Papua
New Guinea. There are also no protections given to LGBT citizens
in the country. Papua
New Guinea is one of the very few Christian
countries in present time to criminalize homosexuality.
Main articles: Regions of Papua New Guinea, Provinces of Papua New
Guinea, and Districts and LLGs of Papua New Guinea
New Guinea is divided into four regions, which are not the
primary administrative divisions but are quite significant in many
aspects of government, commercial, sporting and other activities.
The nation has 22 province-level divisions: twenty provinces, the
Autonomous Region of Bougainville
Autonomous Region of Bougainville and the National Capital District.
Each province is divided into one or more districts, which in turn are
divided into one or more Local Level Government areas.
Provinces are the primary administrative divisions of the country.
Provincial governments are branches of the national government –
New Guinea is not a federation of provinces. The province-level
divisions are as follows:
East New Britain
Northern (Oro Province)
Bougainville (autonomous region)
Western Province (Fly)
West New Britain
West Sepik (Sandaun)
National Capital District (Port Moresby)
In 2009, Parliament approved the creation of two additional provinces:
Hela Province, consisting of part of the existing Southern Highlands
Province, and Jiwaka Province, formed by dividing Western Highlands
Province. Jiwaka and Hela officially became separate provinces on
17 May 2012.The declaration of Hela and Jiwaka is a result of the
Liquified Natural Gas
Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) project in the country that is
situated in both provinces. The government set 15 June 2019 as the
voting date for an independence referendum in the Bougainville
(autonomous region). The
Australian Strategic Policy Institute
Australian Strategic Policy Institute has
said that there is a wide expectation Bougainville will vote to become
Main article: Geography of Papua New Guinea
Map of Papua New Guinea
At 462,840 km2 (178,704 sq mi), Papua
New Guinea is the
world's fifty-fourth largest country. Including all its islands, it
lies between latitudes 0° and 12°S, and longitudes 140° and 160°E.
Located north of the Australian mainland, the country's geography is
diverse and, in places, extremely rugged. A spine of mountains, the
New Guinea Highlands, runs the length of the island of New Guinea,
forming a populous highlands region mostly covered with tropical
rainforest, and the long Papuan Peninsula, known as the 'Bird's Tail'.
Dense rainforests can be found in the lowland and coastal areas as
well as very large wetland areas surrounding the
Sepik and Fly rivers.
This terrain has made it difficult for the country to develop
transportation infrastructure. Some areas are accessible only on foot
or by aeroplane. The highest peak is
Mount Wilhelm at
4,509 metres (14,793 ft). Papua
New Guinea is surrounded by coral
reefs which are under close watch, in the interests of preservation.
The country is situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire, at the point of
collision of several tectonic plates. There are a number of active
volcanoes, and eruptions are frequent. Earthquakes are relatively
common, sometimes accompanied by tsunamis.
The mainland of the country is the eastern half of
New Guinea island,
where the largest towns are also located, including Port Moresby
(capital) and Lae; other major islands within Papua
New Guinea include
New Ireland, New Britain, Manus and Bougainville.
New Guinea is one of the few regions close to the equator that
experience snowfall, which occurs in the most elevated parts of the
The border between Papua
New Guinea and
Indonesia was confirmed by
Australia before independence in 1974. Maritime
Australia were confirmed by a treaty in 1978.
See also: Conservation in Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea's highlands
New Guinea is part of the Australasia ecozone, which also
includes Australia, New Zealand, eastern Indonesia, and several
Pacific island groups, including the
Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
Geologically, the island of
New Guinea is a northern extension of the
Indo-Australian tectonic plate, forming part of a single land mass
which is Australia-
New Guinea (also called Sahul or Meganesia). It is
connected to the Australian segment by a shallow continental shelf
across the Torres Strait, which in former ages had lain exposed as a
land bridge, particularly during ice ages when sea levels were lower
than at present.
Consequently, many species of birds and mammals found on New Guinea
have close genetic links with corresponding species found in
Australia. One notable feature in common for the two landmasses is the
existence of several species of marsupial mammals, including some
kangaroos and possums, which are not found elsewhere. Papua New Guinea
is a megadiverse country.
Many of the other islands within PNG territory, including New Britain,
New Ireland, Bougainville, the Admiralty Islands, the Trobriand
Islands, and the Louisiade Archipelago, were never linked to New
Guinea by land bridges. As a consequence, they have their own flora
and fauna; in particular, they lack many of the land mammals and
flightless birds that are common to
New Guinea and Australia.
A tree-kangaroo in Papua New Guinea
New Guinea are portions of the ancient supercontinent of
Gondwana, which started to break into smaller continents in the
Cretaceous era, 66–130 million years ago.
Australia finally broke
Antarctica about 45 million years ago. All the Australasian
lands are home to the Antarctic flora, descended from the flora of
southern Gondwana, including the coniferous podocarps and Araucaria
pines, and the broadleafed southern beech (Nothofagus). These plant
families are still present in Papua New Guinea.
Indo-Australian Plate (which includes landmasses of India,
Australia, and the Indian Ocean floor in between) drifts north, it
collides with the Eurasian Plate. The collision of the two plates
pushed up the Himalayas, the Indonesian islands, and New Guinea's
Central Range. The Central Range is much younger and higher than the
mountains of Australia, so high that it is home to rare equatorial
New Guinea is part of the humid tropics, and many
Indomalayan rainforest plants spread across the narrow straits from
Asia, mixing together with the old Australian and Antarctic floras.
PNG includes a number of terrestrial ecoregions:
Admiralty Islands lowland rain forests – forested islands to the
north of the mainland, home to a distinct flora.
Central Range montane rain forests
The green jungle of Papua
New Guinea bears a sharp contrast to the
nearby desert of Australia.
Huon Peninsula montane rain forests
Louisiade Archipelago rain forests
New Britain-New Ireland lowland rain forests
New Britain-New Ireland montane rain forests
New Guinea mangroves
New Guinea lowland rain and freshwater swamp forests
New Guinea montane rain forests
Solomon Islands rain forests (includes
Bougainville Island and Buka)
Southeastern Papuan rain forests
New Guinea freshwater swamp forests
New Guinea lowland rain forests
Trobriand Islands rain forests
Trans Fly savanna and grasslands
Central Range sub-alpine grasslands
Three new species of mammals were discovered in the forests of Papua
New Guinea by an Australian-led expedition. A small wallaby, a
large-eared mouse and shrew-like marsupial were discovered. The
expedition was also successful in capturing photographs and video
footage of some other rare animals such as the
Tenkile tree kangaroo
and the Weimang tree kangaroo.
At current rates of deforestation, more than half of Papua New
Guinea's forests could be lost or seriously degraded by 2021,
according to a new satellite study of the region. Nearly
one-quarter of Papua New Guinea's rainforests were damaged or
destroyed between 1972 and 2002.
On February 25, 2018, an earthquake of magnitude 7.5 and depth of 35
kilometers struck the middle of Papua New Guinea.  The worst of
the damage centered around the Southern Highlands region. As of March
1 there were 31 reported deaths, and that number was expected to rise.
Main article: Economy of Papua New Guinea
Port Moresby's central business district
New Guinea is richly endowed with natural resources, including
mineral and renewable resources, such as forests, marine (including a
large portion of the world's major tuna stocks), and in some parts
agriculture. The rugged terrain — including high mountain ranges and
valleys, swamps and islands — and high cost of developing
infrastructure, combined with other factors (including serious law and
order problems in some centres and the system of customary land title)
makes it difficult for outside developers. Local developers are
handicapped by years of deficient investment in education, health, ICT
and access to finance. Agriculture, for subsistence and cash crops,
provides a livelihood for 85% of the population and continues to
provide some 30% of GDP. Mineral deposits, including gold, oil, and
copper, account for 72% of export earnings. Oil palm production has
grown steadily over recent years (largely from estates and with
extensive outgrower output), with palm oil now the main agricultural
export. In households participating, coffee remains the major export
crop (produced largely in the Highlands provinces), followed by cocoa
and coconut oil/copra from the coastal areas, each largely produced by
smallholders and tea, produced on estates and rubber. The
Iagifu/Hedinia Field was discovered in 1986 in the Papuan fold and
Former Prime Minister Sir
Mekere Morauta tried to restore integrity to
state institutions, stabilise the kina, restore stability to the
national budget, privatise public enterprises where appropriate, and
ensure ongoing peace on Bougainville following the 1997 agreement
which ended Bougainville's secessionist unrest. The Morauta government
had considerable success in attracting international support,
specifically gaining the backing of the
IMF and the
World Bank in
securing development assistance loans. Significant challenges face
Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, including gaining further investor
confidence, continuing efforts to privatise government assets, and
maintaining the support of members of Parliament.
In March 2006, the
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Development Programme Policy called
for Papua New Guinea's designation of developing country to be
downgraded to least-developed country because of protracted economic
and social stagnation. However, an evaluation by the International
Monetary Fund in late 2008 found that "a combination of prudent fiscal
and monetary policies, and high global prices for mineral commodity
exports, have underpinned Papua New Guinea's recent buoyant economic
growth and macroeconomic stability. By 2012 PNG had enjoyed a decade
of positive economic growth, at over 6% since 2007, even during the
Global Financial Crisis
Global Financial Crisis years of 2008/9. PNG's Real GDP growth rate as
at 2011 was 8.9%," and 9.2% for 2012, according to the Asian
This economic growth has been primarily attributed to strong commodity
prices, particularly mineral but also agricultural, with the high
demand for mineral products largely sustained even during the crisis
by the buoyant Asian markets a booming mining sector, and particularly
since 2009 by a buoyant outlook and the construction
phase for natural gas exploration, production, and exportation in
liquefied form (liquefied natural gas or "LNG") by
LNG tankers (LNG
carrier), all of which will require multibillion-dollar investments
(exploration, production wells, pipelines, storage, liquefaction
plants, port terminals,
LNG tanker ships).
The first major gas project was the PNG
LNG joint venture. ExxonMobil
is operator of the joint venture, also comprising Oil Search, Santos,
Petroleum Holdings (Papua New Guinea’s national oil and gas
company), JX Nippon Oil and Gas Exploration, the PNG government's
Mineral Resources Development Company and Petromin PNG Holdings.
The project is an integrated development that includes gas production
and processing facilities in the Hela, Southern Highlands and Western
Provinces of Papua New Guinea, including liquefaction and storage
facilities (located northwest of Port Moresby) with capacity of 6.9
million tonnes per year. There are over 700 kilometres (430 mi)
of pipelines connecting the facilities. It is the largest
private-sector investment in the history of PNG.
A second major project is based on initial rights held by the French
oil and gas major
Total S.A. and the US company
InterOil Corp. (IOC),
which have partly combined their assets after Total agreed in December
2013 to purchase 61.3% of IOC's Antelope and Elk gas fields rights,
with the plan to develop them starting in 2016, including the
construction of a liquefaction plant to allow export of LNG. Total
S.A. has separately another joint operating agreement with the PNG
company Oil Search.
Further gas and mineral projects are proposed (including the large
Wafi-Golpu copper-gold mine), with extensive exploration ongoing
across the country.
Economic 'development' based on the extractive industries carries
difficult consequences for local communities. There has been much
contention[clarification needed] around river tailings in the vast Fly
River, submarine tailings from the new
Ramu-Nickel-cobalt mine, commencing exports in late 2012 (after a
delay from landowner-led court challenges), and from
proposed submarine mining in the Bismarck Sea (by Nautilus
Minerals). One major project conducted through the
PNG Department for Community Development suggested that other pathways
to sustainable development should be considered.
The PNG government's long-term Vision 2050 and shorter-term policy
documents, including the 2013 Budget and the 2014 Responsible
Sustainable Development Strategy, emphasise the need for a more
diverse economy, based upon sustainable industries and avoiding the
Dutch Disease from major resource extraction projects
undermining other industries, as has occurred in many countries
experiencing oil or other mineral booms, notably in Western Africa,
undermining much of their agriculture sector, manufacturing and
tourism, and with them broad-based employment prospects. Measures have
been taken to mitigate these effects, including through the
establishment of a sovereign wealth fund, partly to stabilise revenue
and expenditure flows, but much will depend upon the readiness to make
real reforms to effective use of revenue, tackling rampant corruption
and empowering households and businesses to access markets, services
and develop a more buoyant economy, with lower costs, especially for
small- to medium-size enterprises.
The Institute of National Affairs, a PNG independent policy think
tank, provides a report on the business and investment environment of
New Guinea every five years, based upon a survey of large and
small, local and overseas companies, highlighting law and order
problems and corruption, as the worst impediments, followed by the
poor state of transport, power and communications infrastructure.
Ok Tedi Mine
Ok Tedi Mine in southwestern Papua New Guinea
The PNG legislature has enacted laws in which a type of tenure called
"customary land title" is recognised, meaning that the traditional
lands of the indigenous peoples have some legal basis to inalienable
tenure. This customary land notionally covers most of the usable land
in the country (some 97% of total land area); alienated land is
either held privately under state lease or is government land.
Freehold title (also known as fee simple) can only be held by Papua
New Guinean citizens.
Only some 3% of the land of Papua
New Guinea is in private hands;
it[clarification needed] is privately held under 99-year state lease,
or it is held by the State. There is virtually no freehold title; the
few existing freeholds are automatically converted to state lease when
they are transferred between vendor and purchaser. Unalienated land is
owned under customary title by traditional landowners. The precise
nature of the seisin varies from one culture to another. Many writers
portray land as in the communal ownership of traditional clans;
however, closer studies usually show that the smallest portions of
land whose ownership cannot be further divided are held by the
individual heads of extended families and their descendants or their
descendants alone if they have recently died.
This is a matter of vital importance because a problem of economic
development is identifying the membership of customary landowning
groups and the owners. Disputes between mining and forestry companies
and landowner groups often devolve on the issue of whether the
companies entered into contractual relations for the use of land with
the true owners. Customary property — usually land — cannot be
devised by will. It can only be inherited according to the custom of
the deceased's people. The Lands Act was amended in
2010 along with the Land Group Incorporation Act, intended to improve
the management of state land, mechanisms for dispute resolution over
land, and to enable customary landowners to be better able to access
finance and possible partnerships over portions of their land, if they
seek to develop it for urban or rural economic activities. The Land
Group Incorporation Act requires more specific identification of the
customary landowners than hitherto and their more specific
authorisation before any land arrangements are determined; (a major
issue in recent years has been a land grab, using, or rather misusing,
the Lease-Leaseback provision under the Land Act, notably using
Special Agricultural and Business Leases' (SABLs) to acquire vast
tracts of customary land, purportedly for agricultural projects, but
in an almost all cases as a back-door mechanism for securing tropical
forest resources for logging — circumventing the more exacting
requirements of the Forest Act, for securing Timber Permits (which
must comply with sustainability requirements and be competitively
secured, and with the customary landowners approval). Following a
national outcry, these SABLs have been subject to a Commission of
Inquiry, established in mid-2011, for which the report is still
awaited for initial presentation to the Prime Minister and Parliament.
Main article: Demographics of Papua New Guinea
Huli wigman from the Southern Highlands
New Guinea is one of the most heterogeneous nations in the
world. There are hundreds of ethnic groups indigenous to Papua New
Guinea, the majority being from the group known as Papuans, whose
ancestors arrived in the
New Guinea region tens of thousands of years
ago. The other indigenous peoples are Austronesians, their ancestors
having arrived in the region less than four thousand years ago.
There are also numerous people from other parts of the world now
resident, including Chinese, Europeans, Australians, Indonesians,
Filipinos, Polynesians, and Micronesians (the last four belonging to
the Austronesian family). Around 40,000 expatriates, mostly from
Australia and China, were living in Papua
New Guinea in 1975.
Largest cities and towns in Papua New Guinea
National capital district
East New Britain
West New Britain
Main article: Languages of Papua New Guinea
The language families in Ross's conception of the Trans-New Guinea
New Guinea has more languages than any other country, with
over 820 indigenous languages, representing 12% of the world's total,
but most have fewer than 1,000 speakers. The most widely spoken
indigenous language is Enga, with about 200,000 speakers, followed by
Melpa and Huli. Indigenous languages are classified into two large
Austronesian languages and non-Austronesian, or Papuan,
languages. There are four official languages for Papua New Guinea:
English, "sign language" (which in practice means Papua New Guinean
Tok Pisin and Hiri Motu.
English is the language of government and the education system, but it
is not spoken widely.
The primary lingua franca of the country is
Tok Pisin (commonly known
in English as New Guinean Pidgin or Melanesian Pidgin), in which much
of the debate in Parliament is conducted, many information campaigns
and advertisements are presented, and until recently a national
newspaper, Wantok, was published. The only area where
Tok Pisin is not
prevalent is the southern region of Papua, where people often use the
third official language, Hiri Motu.
Although it lies in the Papua region,
Port Moresby has a highly
diverse population which primarily uses Tok Pisin, and to a lesser
extent English, with Motu spoken as the indigenous language in
outlying villages. With an average of only 7,000 speakers per
New Guinea has a greater density of languages than any
other nation on earth except Vanuatu.
Government expenditure health in 2014 accounted for 9.5% of total
government spending, with total health expenditure equating to 4.3% of
GDP. There were five physicians per 100,000 people in the early
2000s. Malaria is the leading cause of illness and death in New
Guinea. In 2003, the most recently reported year, 70,226 cases of
laboratory confirmed malaria were reported, along with 537 deaths. A
total of 1,729,697 cases were probable.
New Guinea has the highest incidence of HIV and AIDS in the
Pacific region and is the fourth country in the Asia Pacific region to
fit the criteria for a generalised HIV/AIDS epidemic. Lack of
HIV/AIDS awareness is a major problem, especially in rural areas.
The 2010 maternal mortality rate per 100,000 births for Papua New
Guinea is 250. This is compared with 311.9 in 2008 and 476.3 in 1990.
The under 5 mortality rate, per 1,000 births is 69 and the neonatal
mortality as a percentage of under 5's mortality is 37. In Papua New
Guinea the number of midwives per 1,000 live births is 1 and the
lifetime risk of death for pregnant women is 1 in 94.
Main article: Religion in Papua New Guinea
Citizen population in Papua
New Guinea by religion, based on the 2011
Roman Catholic (26%)
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua
New Guinea (18.4%)
Seventh-day Adventist (12.9%)
United Church in Papua
New Guinea and the Solomon Islands
Evangelical Alliance Papua
New Guinea (5.9%)
Anglican Church of Papua
New Guinea (3.2%)
Salvation Army (0.4%)
Kwato Church (0.2%)
Other Christian (5.1%)
Non Christian (1.4%)
Not stated (3.1%)
The courts and government practice uphold the constitutional right to
freedom of speech, thought, and belief, and no legislation to curb
those rights has been adopted. The 2011 census found that 95.6% of
citizens identified themselves as members of a Christian church, 1.4%
were not Christian, 3.1% did not answer this census question. These
who stated no religion accounted for, approximately, 0%. Many citizens
combine their Christian faith with some traditional indigenous
Christianity in Papua
New Guinea is predominantly made up of
Protestants, who collectively constitute roughly 70% of the total
population. They are mostly represented by the Evangelical Lutheran
Church of Papua New Guinea, the
Seventh-day Adventist Church, diverse
Pentecostal denominations, the United Church in Papua
New Guinea and
the Solomon Islands, the
Evangelical Alliance Papua New Guinea, and
the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea. Apart from Protestants, there
is a notable
Roman Catholic minority with approximately 25% of the
Among non Christians, the
Bahai Faith has a strong standing. There are
also approximately 4,000 Muslims in the country. The majority belong
Sunni group, while a small number are Ahmadi.
Non-traditional Christian churches and non-Christian religious groups
are active throughout the country. The Papua
New Guinea Council of
Churches has stated that both Muslim and Confucian missionaries are
active, and foreign missionary activity in general is high.
Traditional religions are often animist. Some also tend to have
elements of Veneration of the dead, though generalisation is suspect
given the extreme heterogeneity of Melanesian societies. Prevalent
among traditional tribes is the belief in masalai, or evil spirits,
which are blamed for "poisoning" people, causing calamity and death,
and the practice of puripuri (sorcery).
Main articles: Culture of Papua New Guinea, Music of Papua New Guinea,
and Papua New Guinean cuisine
Bilum bag from Goroka, Eastern Highlands Province
A resident of Boga-Boga, a village on the southeast coast of mainland
Papua New Guinea
A 20th century wooden
Abelam ancestor figure (nggwalndu)
It is estimated that more than a thousand cultural groups exist in
Papua New Guinea. Because of this diversity, many styles of cultural
expression have emerged. Each group has created its own expressive
forms in art, dance, weaponry, costumes, singing, music, architecture
and much more.
Most of these cultural groups have their own language. People
typically live in villages that rely on subsistence farming. In some
areas people hunt and collect wild plants (such as yam roots) to
supplement their diets. Those who become skilled at hunting, farming
and fishing earn a great deal of respect.
Sepik river, there is a tradition of wood carving, often in the
form of plants or animals, representing ancestor spirits.
Sea shells are no longer the currency of Papua New Guinea, as they
were in some regions — sea shells were abolished as currency in
1933. This tradition is still present in local customs. In some
cultures, to get a bride, a groom must bring a certain number of
golden-edged clam shells as a bride price. In other regions, the
bride price is paid in lengths of shell money, pigs, cassowaries or
cash. Elsewhere, it is brides who traditionally pay a dowry.
People of the highlands engage in colourful local rituals that are
called "sing sings". They paint themselves and dress up with feathers,
pearls and animal skins to represent birds, trees or mountain spirits.
Sometimes an important event, such as a legendary battle, is enacted
at such a musical festival.
Main article: Sport in Papua New Guinea
Sport is an important part of Papua New Guinean culture and rugby
league is by far the most popular sport. In a nation where
communities are far apart and many people live at a minimal
subsistence level, rugby league has been described as a replacement
for tribal warfare as a way of explaining the local enthusiasm for the
game (a matter of life and death). Many Papua New Guineans have become
instant celebrities by representing their country or playing in an
overseas professional league. Even Australian rugby league players who
have played in the annual State of Origin series, which is celebrated
feverishly every year in PNG, are among the most well known people
throughout the nation.
State of Origin is a highlight of the year for most Papua New
Guineans, although the support is so passionate that many people have
died over the years in violent clashes supporting their team. The
New Guinea national rugby league team usually plays against the
Australian Prime Minister's XIII (a selection of NRL players) each
year, normally in Port Moresby.
Although not as popular,
Australian rules football
Australian rules football is more significant
in another way, as the national team is ranked second, only after
Other major sports which have a part in the Papua
New Guinea sporting
landscape are association football, rugby union, basketball and, in
eastern Papua, cricket.
The capital city, Port Moresby, hosted the
Pacific Games in 2015.
Main article: Education in Papua New Guinea
A large proportion of the population is illiterate, with women
predominating in this area. Much of the education in PNG is
provided by church institutions. This includes 500 schools of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea. Papua New Guinea
has six universities apart from other major tertiary institutions. The
two founding universities are the University of Papua
New Guinea based
in the National Capital District, and the Papua New Guinea
University of Technology based outside of Lae, in Morobe Province.
The four other universities which were once colleges were established
recently after gaining government recognition. These are the
Goroka in the Eastern Highlands province, Divine Word
University (run by the Catholic Church's Divine Word Missionaries) in
Madang Province, Vudal University in
East New Britain Province
East New Britain Province and
Pacific Adventist University
Pacific Adventist University (run by the
Seventh-day Adventist Church)
in the National Capital District.
Science and technology
Papua New Guinea's National Vision 2050 was adopted in 2009. This has
led to the establishment of the Research, Science and Technology
Council. At its gathering in November 2014, the Council re-emphasised
the need to focus on sustainable development through science and
Vision 2050’s medium-term priorities are:
emerging industrial technology for downstream processing;
infrastructure technology for the economic corridors;
Science and engineering education; and
to reach the target of investing 5% of GDP in research and development
by 2050. (There is no recent data for this indicator.)
According to Thomson Reuters' Web of Science, Papua
New Guinea had the
largest number of publications (110) among Pacific Island states in
2014, followed by
Fiji (106). Nine out of ten scientific publications
New Guinea focused on immunology, genetics, biotechnology
and microbiology. Nine out of ten were also co-authored by scientists
from other countries, mainly Australia, the
United States of America,
Spain and Switzerland.
Forestry is an important economic resource for Papua
New Guinea but
the industry uses low and semi-intensive technological inputs. As a
result, product ranges are limited to sawed timber, veneer, plywood,
block board, moulding, poles and posts and wood chips. Only a few
limited finished products are exported. Lack of automated machinery,
coupled with inadequately trained local technical personnel, are some
of the obstacles to introducing automated machinery and design.
Policy-makers need to turn their attention to eliminating these
barriers, in order for forestry to make a more efficient and
sustainable contribution to national economic development.
In Papua New Guinea, renewable energy sources represent two-thirds of
the total electricity supply. In 2015, the Secretariat of the
Pacific Community observed that, 'while Fiji, Papua
New Guinea and
Samoa are leading the way with large-scale hydropower projects, there
is enormous potential to expand the deployment of other renewable
energy options such as solar, wind, geothermal and ocean-based energy
European Union has funded the Renewable Energy in
Pacific Island Countries Developing Skills and Capacity programme
(EPIC). Since its inception in 2013, the programme has developed a
master’s programme in renewable energy management at the University
New Guinea and helped to establish a Centre of Renewable
Energy at the same university.
New Guinea is one of the 15 beneficiaries of a programme on
Adapting to Climate Change and Sustainable Energy worth €37.26
million. The programme resulted from the signing of an agreement in
February 2014 between the
European Union and the Pacific Islands Forum
Secretariat. The other beneficiaries are the Cook Islands, Fiji,
Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru,
Niue, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga,
Main article: Transport in Papua New Guinea
Transport in Papua
New Guinea is heavily limited by the country's
mountainous terrain. As a result, air travel is the single most
important form of transport for human and high density/value freight.
Aeroplanes made it possible to open up the country during its early
colonial period. Even today the two largest cities,
Port Moresby and
Lae, are only directly connected by planes.
Port Moresby is not linked
by road to any of the other major towns, and many remote villages can
only be reached by light aircraft or on foot.
Jacksons International Airport
Jacksons International Airport is the major international airport in
Papua New Guinea, located 8 kilometres (5 mi) from Port Moresby.
In addition to two international airfields, Papua
New Guinea has 578
airstrips, most of which are unpaved. Assets are not maintained to
good operating standards and poor transport remains a major impediment
to the development of ties of national unity.
Commonwealth realms portal
New Guinea portal
Communications in Papua New Guinea
Conservation in Papua New Guinea
Foreign relations of Papua New Guinea
Human rights in Papua New Guinea
Military of Papua New Guinea
Outline of Papua New Guinea
New Guinea honours system
Science and technology in Pacific Island countries
Tourism in Papua New Guinea
List of airports in Papua New Guinea
List of cities and towns in Papua New Guinea
List of diplomatic missions in Papua New Guinea
List of Districts and Local Level Governments of Papua New Guinea
List of earthquakes in Papua New Guinea
List of Papua New Guineans
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UNESCO, UNESCO Publishing.
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^ a b "Papua
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Biskup, Peter, B. Jinks and H. Nelson. A Short History of New Guinea
Connell, John. Papua New Guinea: The Struggle for Development (1997)
Gash, Noel. A Pictorial History of
New Guinea (1975)
Golson, Jack. 50,000 years of
New Guinea history (1966)
Griffin, James. Papua New Guinea: A political history (1979)
James, Paul; Nadarajah, Yaso; Haive, Karen; Stead, Victoria (2012).
Sustainable Communities, Sustainable Development: Other Paths for
Papua New Guinea. Honolulu: University of
Knauft, Bruce M. South Coast
New Guinea Cultures: History, Comparison,
Dialectic (1993) excerpt and text search
McCosker, Anne. Masked Eden: A History of the Australians in New
Mckinnon, Rowan, et al. Papua
New Guinea & Solomon Islands
(Country Travel Guide) (2008) excerpt and text search
Swadling, Pamela (1996). Plumes from Paradise. Papua New Guinea
National Museum. ISBN 9980-85-103-1.
Waiko. John. Short History of Papua
New Guinea (1993)
Waiko, John Dademo. Papua New Guinea: A History of Our Times (2003)
Zimmer-Tamakoshi, Laura. Modern Papua
New Guinea (1998) online
Jinks, Brian, ed. Readings in
New Guinea history (1973)
Tim Flannery Throwim' Way Leg: Tree-Kangaroos, Possums, and Penis
Gourds (2000) memoir excerpt and text search
Malinowski, Bronislaw. Argonauts of the Western Pacific: An Account of
Native Enterprise and Adventure in the Archipelagoes of Melanesian New
Guinea (2002) famous anthropological account of the Trobriand
Islanders; based on field work in 1910s online
Visser, Leontine, ed. Governing New Guinea: An Oral History of Papuan
Administrators, 1950–1990 (2012)
Whitaker, J.L. et al. eds. Documents and readings in New Guinea
history: Pre-history to 1889 (1975)
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1 Annexed by
Canada in 1949
Rhodesia unilaterally declared independence in 1965, but this was
not recognised internationally. Declared itself a republic in 1970.
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Papua New Guinea
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