Papua New Guinea 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 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 (178, 703 square miles).
Papua New Guinea shares land border with Indonesia and sea borders with Australia, Federated States of Micronesia, and Solomon Islands.
The temperature in the Highlands ranges from 15 – 25 degrees Celsius. The coastal areas as well as the Island have an average daily temperature of 27 degrees Celsius. PNG has a moderate tropical climate with high levels of seasonal rainfall.
Papua New Guinea is one of the few countries endowed with rich biodiversity, accounting for about 5-7% of the world’s biodiversity in less than 1% of the world’s land mass.
Papua New Guinea has the 3rd largest pristine rainforest in the world. Its forest provide habitat for around 250 species of mammals, 20,000 species of plants, 1,500 species of trees and 750 species of birds, half of which are endemic to the Island. Its maritime biodiversity is simply stunning and is characterized by more than 1500 species of coral and 3000 species of reef fish.
People and Society
Papua New Guinea has a population of around 9 million people. Over 85% of the population live in isolated communities. It is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world with the people speaking about 860 different languages, that is about 20% of the world’s languages.
Majority of Papua New Guineans are Melanesians while others from the Polynesian and Micronesian ethnic groups.
The official languages are English, Tok Pisin, and Hiri Motu. English is the business language, Pidgin is mostly spoken in the Highlands, Momase, and New Guinea Islands Regions.
Papua New Guinea is a Christian Country and the main denominations are: Catholic Church, Lutherans, Anglicans, Seventh Day Adventist, and Pentecostals.
The Capital City is Port Moresby with population of a 700,00 people. Other Cities and major towns are: Lae, Mount Hagen, Goroka, Madang, and Rabaul.
The Independent State of Papua New Guinea is a constitutional monarchy and a Commonwealth realm with a parliamentary democracy. The Head of State is HM Queen Elizabeth II, represented in Papua New Guinea by a Governor-General, currently His Excellency Grand Chief Sir Robert Dadae GCL, GCMG, Kst.J. The Governor-General is elected directly by Members of the National Parliament and performs mainly ceremonial functions.
There are three levels of government – national, provincial and local. Its National Parliament is a unicameral legislature elected for five-year terms. The judicial system is based on the British model, with a network of district courts.
Papua New Guinea has 22 Provinces, namely Central, Eastern Highlands, East New Britain, East Sepik, Enga, Gulf, Hela, Jiwaka, Madang, Manus, Milne Bay, Morobe, New Ireland, Oro, Simbu, Southern Highlands, West New Britain, Western, and West Sepik Provinces as well as Port Moresby and Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
The Provinces are represented by the Provincial Governors in the National Parliament.
The National Parliament of Papua New Guinea has 111 Members of parliament serve 5-year term, including the 21 Provincial Governors. The other 89 Members of whom are chosen from single member open electorates, commonly referred to as Districts.
Papua New Guinea’s National Elections are held every five years. The last general election was held in 2017 under a limited preferential voting system that was introduced in 2002 that gives three preferences: first, second, and third preference. The candidate that scores more then 50% of the votes win. If no winner is found on the first count than elimination occurs to decide on the winner.
After the 2012 National Election, Hon Peter O’Neill MP was elected Prime Minister.
However, through a vote of no confidence in May 2019, the Member for Tari Pori, Hon James Marape MP was elected as the eighth Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea. Prime Minister leads a coalition Government comprising many political parties, namely PANGU, National Alliance Party, United Resources Party, People’s Progress Party, People’s Party and many others.
The next National Elections in Papua New Guinea will be held in June 2022.
Papua New Guinea is endowed with rich natural resources such as timber, fisheries, oil, minerals (gold, copper, silver, and natural gas), and agriculture products: coffee, cocoa, copra, palm kernels, tea, sugar, rubber, sweet potatoes, fruit, vegetables, vanilla; shell fish, poultry, and pork.
Much of the population of Papua New Guinea relies on subsistence farming.
The country’s economy remains dominated by two broad sectors: the agricultural, forestry, and fishing sectors; and the minerals and energy extraction sector which accounts for the majority of export earnings and GDP.
Papua New Guinea sits atop vast, untapped reserves of almost 155 billion cubic meters of natural gas, providing for a huge export opportunity for the country, its liquefied natural gas (LNG) project is the largest resource extraction project in the Asia-Pacific region.
Papua New Guinea’s main exports are oil, gold, copper ore, logs, palm oil, coffee, cocoa, crayfish, and prawns.
The major trading partners are Japan, Australia, China, Singapore, Malaysia, USA, and South Korea.