[Country map of Papua New Guinea]

Papua New Guinea


Location: Southeastern Asia, group of islands including the eastern half of the island of New Guinea between the Coral Sea and the South Pacific Ocean, east of Indonesia

Map references: Oceania

total area: 461,690 sq km
land area: 451,710 sq km
comparative area: slightly larger than California

Land boundaries: total 820 km, Indonesia 820 km

Coastline: 5,152 km

Maritime claims: measured from claimed archipelagic baselines
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

International disputes: none

Climate: tropical; northwest monsoon (December to March), southeast monsoon (May to October); slight seasonal temperature variation

Terrain: mostly mountains with coastal lowlands and rolling foothills

Natural resources: gold, copper, silver, natural gas, timber, oil potential

Land use:
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 1%
meadows and pastures: 0%
forest and woodland: 71%
other: 28%

Irrigated land: NA sq km

current issues: rain forest subject to deforestation as a result of growing commercial demand for tropical timber; pollution from mining projects
natural hazards: active volcanism; situated along the Pacific "Rim of Fire"; the country is subject to frequent and sometimes severe earthquakes; mudslides
international agreements: party to - Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Wetlands; signed, but not ratified - Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Law of the Sea

Note: shares island of New Guinea with Indonesia; one of world's largest swamps along southwest coast


Population: 4,294,750 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 41% (female 847,208; male 892,718)
15-64 years: 57% (female 1,161,961; male 1,268,266)
65 years and over: 2% (female 66,759; male 57,838) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.3% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 33.2 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 10.18 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 61.6 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 56.85 years
male: 56.01 years
female: 57.74 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 4.55 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Papua New Guinean(s)
adjective: Papua New Guinean

Ethnic divisions: Melanesian, Papuan, Negrito, Micronesian, Polynesian

Religions: Roman Catholic 22%, Lutheran 16%, Presbyterian/Methodist/London Missionary Society 8%, Anglican 5%, Evangelical Alliance 4%, Seventh-Day Adventist 1%, other Protestant sects 10%, indigenous beliefs 34%

Languages: English spoken by 1%-2%, pidgin English widespread, Motu spoken in Papua region
note: 715 indigenous languages

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1990 est.)
total population: 52%
male: 65%
female: 38%

Labor force: NA


conventional long form: Independent State of Papua New Guinea
conventional short form: Papua New Guinea

Digraph: PP

Type: parliamentary democracy

Capital: Port Moresby

Administrative divisions: 20 provinces; Central, Chimbu, Eastern Highlands, East New Britain, East Sepik, Enga, Gulf, Madang, Manus, Milne Bay, Morobe, National Capital, New Ireland, Northern, North Solomons, Sandaun, Southern Highlands, Western, Western Highlands, West New Britain

Independence: 16 September 1975 (from the Australian-administered UN trusteeship)

National holiday: Independence Day, 16 September (1975)

Constitution: 16 September 1975

Legal system: based on English common law

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952), represented by Governor General Wiwa KOROWI (since NA November 1991)
head of government: Prime Minister Sir Julius CHAN (since 30 August 1994); Deputy Prime Minister Chris HAIVETA (since 7 September 1994)
cabinet: National Executive Council; appointed by the governor on recommendation of the prime minister

Legislative branch: unicameral
National Parliament: (sometimes referred to as the House of Assembly) elections last held 13-26 June 1992 (next to be held NA 1997); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (109 total) Pangu Party 24, PDM 17, PPP 10, PAP 10, independents 30, others 18; note - association with political parties is fluid

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Political parties and leaders: Papua New Guinea United Party (Pangu Party), Jack GENIA; People's Democratic Movement (PDM), Paias WINGTI; People's Action Party (PAP), Akoka DOI; People's Progress Party (PPP), Sir Julius CHAN; United Party (UP), Paul TORATO; Papua Party (PP), Galeva KWARARA; National Party (NP), Paul PORA; Melanesian Alliance (MA), Fr. John MOMIS


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Kepas Isimel WATANGIA
chancery: 3rd floor, 1615 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
telephone: [1] (202) 745-3680
FAX: [1] (202) 745-3679

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador Richard W. TEARE
embassy: Armit Street, Port Moresby
mailing address: P. O. Box 1492, Port Moresby, or APO AE 96553
telephone: [675] 211455, 211594, 211654
FAX: [675] 213423

Flag: divided diagonally from upper hoist-side corner; the upper triangle is red with a soaring yellow bird of paradise centered; the lower triangle is black with five white five-pointed stars of the Southern Cross constellation centered


Overview: Papua New Guinea is richly endowed with natural resources, but exploitation has been hampered by the rugged terrain and the high cost of developing an infrastructure. Agriculture provides a subsistence livelihood for 85% of the population. Mining of numerous deposits, including copper and gold, accounts for about 60% of export earnings. Budgetary support from Australia and development aid under World Bank auspices have helped sustain the economy. Robust growth in 1991-92 was led by the mining sector; the opening of a large new gold mine helped the advance. At the start of 1995, Port Moresby is looking primarily to the exploitation of mineral and petroleum resources to drive economic development but new prospecting in Papua New Guinea has slumped as other mineral-rich countries have stepped up their competition for international investment. Output from current projects will probably begin to taper off in 1996, but no new large ventures are being developed to succeed them.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $9.2 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: 6.1% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $2,200 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1.6% (1994)

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues: $1.33 billion
expenditures: $1.36 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1995 est.)

Exports: $2.4 billion (f.o.b., 1993 est.)
commodities: gold, copper ore, oil, logs, palm oil, coffee, cocoa, lobster
partners: Australia, Japan, US, Singapore, New Zealand

Imports: $1.2 billion (c.i.f., 1993 est.)
commodities: machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, food, fuels, chemicals
partners: Australia, Japan, UK, New Zealand, Netherlands

External debt: $3.2 billion (1992)

Industrial production: accounts for 32% of GDP

capacity: 490,000 kW
production: 1.8 billion kWh
consumption per capita: 390 kWh (1993)

Industries: copra crushing, palm oil processing, plywood production, wood chip production, mining of gold, silver, and copper, construction, tourism

Agriculture: Accounts for 25% of GDP; livelihood for 85% of population; fertile soils and favorable climate permits cultivating a wide variety of crops; cash crops - coffee, cocoa, coconuts, palm kernels; other products - tea, rubber, sweet potatoes, fruit, vegetables, poultry, pork; net importer of food for urban centers

Economic aid:
recipient: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-89), $40.6 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-89), $6.5 billion; OPEC bilateral aid (1979-89), $17 million

Currency: 1 kina (K) = 100 toea

Exchange rates: kina (K) per US$1 - 0.8565 (December 1994), 0.9950 (1994), 1.0221 (1993), 1.0367 (1992), 1.0504 (1991), 1.0467 (1990); note - the government floated the kina on 10 October 1994

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 0 km

total: 19,200 km
paved: 640 km
unpaved: gravel, crushed stone, stabilized earth 10,960 km; unimproved earth 7,600 km

Inland waterways: 10,940 km

Ports: Kieta, Lae, Madang, Port Moresby, Rabaul

Merchant marine:
total: 12 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 22,565 GRT/27,071 DWT
ships by type: bulk 2, cargo 3, combination ore/oil 5, container 1, roll-on/roll-off 1

total: 505
with paved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 13
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 5
with paved runways under 914 m: 411
with unpaved runways 1,524 to 2,438 m: 12
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 63


Telephone system: more than 70,000 telephones (1987); services are adequate and being improved; facilities provide radiobroadcast, radiotelephone and telegraph, coastal radio, aeronautical radio, and international radiocommunication services
local: NA
intercity: mostly radio telephone
international: submarine cables extend to Australia and Guam; 1 INTELSAT (Pacific Ocean) earth station; international radio communication service

broadcast stations: AM 31, FM 2, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 2 (1987)
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: Papua New Guinea Defense Force (includes Army, Navy, and Air Force)

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 1,111,661; males fit for military service 618,696 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: exchange rate conversion - $55 million, 1.8% of GDP (1993 est.)