Facts

 

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Papua New Guinea, officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is an Oceanian country that occupies the eastern half of the island of 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 half of New Guinea forms the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua.

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 of the Commonwealth of Nations in its own right.

Papua New Guinea is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. 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. It is also one of the most rural, as only 18 percent of its people live in urban centres. 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.

Papua 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.

CapitalPort Moresby
Capital and largest cityPort Moresby; 9°30′S 147°07′E / 9.500°S 147.117°E
Population8.085 million (2016) World Bank

Official languagesEnglish, Tok Pisin, Hiri Motu

Currency

The Papua New Guinea Kina is the currency in Papua New Guinea (PG, PNG). The symbol for PGK can be written K. The Papua New Guinea Kina is divided into 100 toeas. The exchange rate for the Papua New Guinea Kina was last updated on August 25, 2017 from Bloomberg.

Geography

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.

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.

Papua New Guinea is one of the few regions close to the equator that experience snowfall, which occurs in the most elevated parts of the mainland.

Transport

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 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.[3] Assets are not maintained to good operating standards and poor transport remains a major impediment to the development of ties of national unity.

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