Papua New Guinea (PNG) is
located on the eastern half of the island of New Guinea, 160 kilometres
north of Cape York. The western half of the island is Irian Jaya or West
Papua, a province of Indonesia. PNG consists of both the mainland and some 600
offshore islands. It has a total land area of 462,840 square kilometres
(about twice the size of Victoria).
The country is relatively young in geological terms and
its geography is very diverse. It is characterised by high mountain
ranges, deep valleys and swiftly flowing rivers in the interior and open
plains, tropical forests, swampy inlets in the coastal region and lush blue waters. PNG has
a moderate tropical climate with high levels of seasonal rainfall. In the
highlands temperatures can range from a low of for degrees Celsius to a
high of 32 degrees Celsius. The lowland, coastal and island areas have an
average daily tenperature of 27 degrees Celsius.
PNG has a population of around 7.014 million (2011). The majority
live in the highland valleys, many in isolated villages. Apart from the
National Capital District, population density is relatively low. Around
15% of the population live in the major urban areas. The largest city and
capital of the country is Port Moresby (population about 318,000). Other
large towns and cities include Lae (population 647,000), Madang (487,000),
Wewak (433,000) and Goroka (582,000). Most of the rural population supports
iteself by subsistence farming.
Most Papua New Guineans are Melanesians and vary widely
in their physical, ethnic and cultural characteristics.
PNG has been an independent state since 1975. There are
21 provinces as well as the National Capital District around Port Moresby.
PNG has a federal political structure. Each province has a provincial
government with wide local powers. The country has universal adult
suffrage and freedom of speech and press.
PNG is an active mmber of the Commonwealth. The
ceremonial Head of State is the Governor-General who is elected by the
Parliament and represents the British monarch.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA