Papua New Guinea

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Independen Stet bilong Papua Niugini (Tok Pisin)
Independent State of Papua New Guinea (English)

Papua Niu Gini (Hiri Motu)

Independent State of Papua New Guinea
Flag of Papua New Guinea
Coat of arms of Papua New Guinea
flag coat of arms
Official language Hiri Motu , Tok Pisin and English
Capital Port Moresby
Form of government Parliamentary monarchy
Government system Parliamentary democracy
Head of state Queen Elizabeth II

represented by Governor General Bob Dadae

Head of government Prime Minister James Marape
surface 462,840 km²
population 8,251,000 (as of 2017)
Population density 15 inhabitants per km²
Population development   +1.75% per year
gross domestic product
  • Nominal
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nominal)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
  • $ 20.00 billion ( 110th )
  • $ 28.01 billion ( 131st )
  • 2,528 USD ( 132. )
  • 3,541 USD ( 149. )
Human Development Index   0.516 ( 154th ) (2016)
currency Kina (PGK)
independence September 16, 1975
(from Australia )
National anthem O Arise All You Sons of This Land
Time zone UTC + 10 (PGT); Bougainville : UTC + 11
License Plate PNG
ISO 3166 PG , PNG, 598
Internet TLD .pg
Telephone code +675
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Papua New Guinea ([ ˈpaːpu̯a nɔ͜ygiˈneːa ], Tok Pisin Independen Stet bilong Papua Niugini ) is the third largest island nation in the world after Indonesia and Madagascar . It is located in the Pacific , is part of the Australian continent and includes the east of the island of New Guinea ( Western New Guinea belongs to Indonesia) as well as several offshore islands and archipelagos.


About 80% of the country's area is taken up by the eastern part of the mountainous island of New Guinea . There are also a number of islands and archipelagos. Papua New Guinea is part of the Pacific Greater Melanesia , which stretches from New Guinea to the Fiji Islands in the east. Geographically, New Guinea lies on the edge of the deep ocean basin on a severely deformed part of the earth's crust that is still volcanically active today. From the Miocene to the Pleistocene , the surface of the earth folded strongly here and created the country's bays, mountains and island chains.


The whole island is criss-crossed by a mountain range about 200 kilometers wide, which is characterized by steep valleys and inaccessible plains. This country's nature favored the isolated formation of a tribe , as it has taken place in New Guinea. The highest mountain in Papua New Guinea is Mount Wilhelm at 4,509 meters, just below the year-round snow line .

The landscapes are extremely diverse and varied. In the mountains, which are characterized by large differences in altitude, there are pointed mountain peaks, wide valleys, glaciers , rainforests , volcanoes , grassy areas, high mountain forests and alpine plains. Between the mountains and the coast there are mangrove swamps , savannahs and fertile alluvial areas of rivers and rainforests. The longest river in Papua New Guinea is the 1,126-kilometer Sepik . There are extensive coral reefs off the north coast .

After Greenland , New Guinea is the second largest island in the world and is extensively surrounded by numerous archipelagos, which can be geographically divided into four main groups.

and rivers in Papua New Guinea


In New Guinea, one of the five centers of the greatest biodiversity on earth was able to develop in the course of the earth's history . With this particularly large variety of species and biodiversity , an extremely large number of endemic species, genera and families of plants and animals as well as diverse ecosystems , Papua New Guinea is counted among the megadiversity countries on earth. In addition, this diversity is not considered to be endangered internationally, so that the island is not listed as a biodiversity hotspot .


Climate diagram
J F. M. A. M. J J A. S. O N D.
Temperature in ° Cprecipitation in mm
Source: PNG National Weather Service
Average monthly temperatures and rainfall for Madang
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Temperature ( ° C ) 30.8 30.6 30.6 30.6 30.7 30.4 30.2 30.2 30.5 30.9 31.2 30.9 O 30.6
Min. Temperature (° C) 23.9 23.8 23.9 23.8 23.9 23.7 23.4 23.7 23.6 23.8 23.9 23.9 O 23.8
Precipitation ( mm ) 343.8 292.0 329.8 389.4 343.4 186.4 144.2 93.8 82.6 239.2 280.2 382.0 Σ 3,106.8
Rainy days ( d ) 23 21st 23 23 21st 18th 15th 12 11 15th 19th 23 Σ 224
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

In the highlands there can be frost at night, but on the coasts it is around 30 degrees day and night all year round. While it is usually hotter but drier in neighboring Northern Australia, there is often a tropical high humidity on the coasts of New Guinea. In some areas of the coast, the humidity is extremely high. The trade winds and monsoon winds from the mountains regularly bring tropical rain showers to the whole country.


Population development
year population
1950 1,674,000
1960 2,011,000
1970 2,528,000
1980 3,304,000
1990 4,313,000
2000 5,572,000
2010 7,108,000
2017 8,251,000


Population pyramid of Papua New Guinea 2016

The majority of the population consists of Papuans , who are divided into 700 to 1000 ethnic groups, each with their own language and culture and sometimes also their own religion. 90% of them live in the island's inaccessible mountainous region and mostly live traditionally in family groups. The number of the predominantly Melanesian ethnic groups is, however, even greater. Melanesians mainly live near the coast and on the islands. There are also minorities of Micronesians , Polynesians and Europeans (including Germans ).

The member of an ethnic community is called Wantok (from English "one talk"), since belonging to a people is primarily determined by the use of the same language. It can always count on community help, but it also has great commitments to make. The Wantok system runs through all state and private structures.

In 2017, 0.4% of the population was born abroad.


(Status: 2020)

Papua New Guinea is traditionally a country with a very large linguistic diversity. A total of 839 different languages ​​and dialects are spoken among the approximately 8.78 million inhabitants (as of 2020) (depending on the information, between 11% and 25% of the world's living languages). Against this background, the Hiri Motu language spoken by parts of the population , a Creole language based on the Motu language , plays a major role in national unification. This is a mixed Melanesian-Papuan language. However, its importance is dwindling in the face of the growing influence of the pidgin language Tok Pisin , which is developing into a full-blown Creole language. Tok Pisin is mastered by more and more people as their mother tongue and is considered a more important lingua franca . Hiri Motu, on the other hand, is now spoken by less than 2 percent of the population.

The former official language of German has almost disappeared in the country, and the Australian occupation forces largely replaced the German language with the English after the First World War. Only one Creole language based on German, Unserdeutsch , is still spoken by around 100 people. English, on the other hand, is now used as their mother tongue by 1 to 2 percent of the population.


Due to the missionary work of missionaries from the German Empire , the majority of the population belongs to Christian denominations. The information on this varies between 66% and over 90%. According to the 2000 census, a total of 27% of the population are Roman Catholic and 19.5% are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea , the history of which goes back to the Bavarian Neuendettelsauer Missionswerk . 11.5% of the population are members of United churches , 10% are Seventh-day Adventists , 8.6% are Pentecostals , 5.2% are members of other churches of the Evangelical Alliance , 3.2% are Anglicans and 2.5 % are Baptists . Other Protestant denominations make up 8.9% of the total population. In addition, 0.3% of the population are Baha'i .

Officially, only 3% of the total population still belongs to the indigenous faiths. The traditional religions have declined sharply through proselytizing since the beginning of the 20th century; central parts of their cult rituals, which included headhunting , ancestral cult and initiation ceremonies , were banned by the Australian colonial administration. The traditional music of New Guinea was and is an indispensable part of the remaining cults and the village festivals (sing-sing) . The wooden slit drums known as garamut are beaten during ceremonies on the north coast and on offshore islands. There are also cargo cults and the religions of Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist immigrants.


Large parts of the population over the age of 15 are illiterate (35.8% of all men and 37.2% of all women over 15). Many schools are church sponsored. These include around 500 schools sponsored by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of New Guinea. There are several universities in the country, the three largest of which are the following:


Development of life expectancy
Period Life expectancy in
Period Life expectancy in
1950-1955 38.3 1985-1990 58.1
1955-1960 40.9 1990-1995 59.7
1960-1965 43.0 1995-2000 61.1
1965-1970 46.9 2000-2005 62.6
1970-1975 50.1 2005-2010 64.2
1975-1980 53.7 2010-2015 65.0
1980-1985 57.1

In 2004 public health expenditure was 3% of gross domestic product , while private spending was 0.6%. The country had or has the highest rates of HIV and AIDS in the Pacific, at around 2% of the adult population. In the early 2000s, there were 5 doctors for every 100,000 residents.

According to the UN, life expectancy between 2010 and 2015 was 65.0 years (women: 67.5 years, men: 62.6 years).


Pre-colonial period

First contacts with Europeans

The Portuguese Jorge de Meneses , who explored the north coast and offshore islands in 1526/27, is considered the island's European explorer.

In 1545 the Spaniard Íñigo Ortiz de Retez landed and named the island "New Guinea" because the coast reminded him of that of the African Guinea , which he had previously passed.

In 1623 Jan Carstenszoon mapped large parts of the coast on behalf of the Dutch East India Company . Since then, the Dutch East India Company has maintained business and political contacts with the region and the Sultanate of Tidore .

Colonial times

The Dutch took possession of the western part of the island in 1828, while the eastern part remained untouched by colonial aspirations. Soon the German Empire and Great Britain were in a race to determine who would first declare the still free eastern part of the island their own.

After German captains and the ornithologist Otto Finsch had created facts by hoisting flags on the north coast, the two states agreed in 1885 to divide the eastern part in the middle again. The north was christened Kaiser-Wilhelms-Land (KWL) and “ protected area ” of a large German colonial society, the New Guinea Company . The south was declared a Protectorate of British New Guinea on November 6, 1884 and annexed on September 4, 1888. After Australia's independence in 1902, this was transferred to Australia and renamed Papua Territory in 1905 .

In 1914, Australian troops occupied German territory right at the beginning of the First World War . After the war, the lost colony was handed over to Australia by the League of Nations as a mandate to be administered in trust “ Territory of New Guinea ” .

The western part of the island remained Dutch ( Dutch East Indies ) until 1962 when it was annexed by Indonesia (now the provinces of Papua and Papua Barat ).

Second World War

The British flag is hoisted in New Guinea

In December 1941, Japanese troops captured the northern part of the island and the civil administration was suspended. The capital Port Moresby was temporarily the headquarters of the American General Douglas MacArthur . The fighting between the Japanese and the Allies lasted three years and was very bitter in some places. In many coastal towns there are still sunken warships from that time.

Australian administered trust territory

Since 1949, the joint Australian administration of the colony of Papua and the territory of New Guinea transferred to the United Nations trustee system as the territory of Papua and New Guinea took place in Port Moresby.

Active women's suffrage was introduced on February 15, 1964, and passive women's suffrage on February 27, 1963 . These rights were confirmed upon independence in 1975.


In 1972 elections were held and the population voted for independence. In December 1973, Papua New Guinea became autonomous and received full sovereignty on September 16, 1975. The country's national symbol is PNG , which is also used as a common acronym for Papua New Guinea. The country changed its prime ministers frequently - especially Michael Somare and Julius Chan . In 1989, under the Chan's government, a bloody civil war broke out on the island of Bougainville , the longest and most casualty in the South Pacific since World War II. It was not settled until 1997 under the impression of the Sandline Affair - the attempt by the Chan government to resolve the conflict militarily with the help of a mercenary company. On January 26, 2012, with the mutiny of the armed forces of Papua New Guinea, an attempt by former Prime Minister Michael Somare to regain power with a coup failed .

From September 18 to 19, 1994, violent volcanic eruptions occurred on the island of New Britain , which almost completely destroyed the city of Rabaul .

The residents of the autonomous region of Bougainville decided in a referendum from November 23rd to December 7th, 2019 on independence or even wider autonomy . 98% of the participants were in favor of complete independence.


Political system

In the 2019 Democracy Index of the British magazine The Economist, Papua New Guinea ranks 74th out of 167 countries and is therefore considered an "incomplete democracy". In the country report Freedom in the World 2017 by the US non-governmental organization Freedom House , the country's political system is rated as “partially free”.

Papua New Guinea has been a member of the Commonwealth of Nations since independence . The official head of state is Elizabeth II , but not as Queen of Britain, but as Queen of Papua New Guinea . It is represented in the country by a governor general .

The national parliament of Papua New Guinea , which has 111 members and is elected every five years, is located in the capital Port Moresby .

Since 2005, Bougainville has had the status of an "Autonomous Region" with special rights. In an independence referendum at the end of 2019 , its eligible voters voted with a large majority for independence from Papua New Guinea.

Administrative division

Since May 17, 2012 , the country has been divided into 20 provinces , the autonomous region of Bougainville and the capital district National Capital District .

In general, a distinction is made between coastal provinces, highland provinces and island provinces. In addition, the provinces that are in the former mandate of the former German colony of New Guinea can be separated from those of the Australian Papua New Guinea.

Lying on the territory of the original German New Guinea (from west to east)

the highland provinces of Enga , Western Highlands , Jiwaka , Simbu (former name: Chimbu), and Eastern Highlands ;
the island provinces of Bougainville (autonomous region, formerly: North Solomons), West New Britain , East New Britain , New Ireland and Manus ;
the north coast provinces of Sandaun (formerly: West Sepik), East Sepik , Madang and Morobe .

On the territory of the original Australian territory of Papua (from west to east)

the highland provinces of Southern Highlands and Hela ;
the south coast provinces of Fly River (also: Western) , Gulf and Central (with the National Capital District around Port Moresby );
the provinces on the east coast of Oro (formerly: Northern) and Milne Bay (with eastern small islands).

The largest cities are (as of 2011 census):

  1. Port Moresby 364,125 inhabitants
  2. Lae 148,934 inhabitants
  3. Wewak 37,825 inhabitants
  4. Madang 35,971 inhabitants
  5. Mount Hagen population 29,765

Human rights

The human rights situation in Papua New Guinea is considered extremely critical. The organization Amnesty International reported in its 2011 annual report that physical abuse was "the order of the day" in prisons in the country. Women in prison are also often sexually abused. Belief in witches is also widespread. Again and again people - mostly women - are accused of witchcraft and then killed or tortured. Since 2014, Buimo detention center - one of the largest in the country - in the city of Lae has had a major escape attempt every year. On May 12, 2017, 17 prisoners (2016: 12) were shot dead by security forces; over 50 inmates escaped.

After the Corruption Perception Index (Corruption Perceptions Index) of Transparency International Papua New Guinea was in 2017 by 180 countries, together with Mexico , Laos , Honduras , Russia and the Dominican Republic on the 135th place, with 29 of a maximum of 100 points.

Freedom of the press

Traditionally, the media in Papua New Guinea are among the most independent in Oceania, but American observers from Freedom House see this system eroding. This began in 2013 with the withdrawal of the Australian Associated Press (AAP), which has permanently weakened the media system. Since then, bloggers critical of the government have come under pressure, as have human rights groups and journalists who draw attention to the conditions in the Australian-funded refugee camp on Manus Island .

In the 2017 press freedom ranking published by Reporters Without Borders , Papua New Guinea ranks 51st out of 180 countries. This puts the country between Romania (46) and Italy (52) in the press freedom index. The international section, Reporters sans frontières , sees freedom of the press in Papua New Guinea as given, but fragile. It became known that investigative journalists were massively threatened when researching corruption cases. When the police fired at peaceful students demonstrating in 2017, they violently tried to stop the reporting. This fits into the picture that journalists in Papua New Guinea have to fear police violence when reporting critically as soon as the state monopoly on the use of force and the interests of the political and economic elite are threatened. Appeals from the media to politicians to improve the situation are fading.

According to the definition of observers, Papua New Guinea has a so-called deficient media system, as is typical for transition states and which has parallels - intimidation by elites, lack of transparency and self-censorship - to many Eastern European countries.


Since 1973 the country has had its own army with the Papua New Guinea Defense Force .


The gross domestic product in 2016 was an estimated 20.0 billion euros, which corresponds to 2,528 euros per inhabitant.

In 2015, Papua New Guinea had the third highest economic growth in the world after Ethiopia and Palau with 8.97% .

Key figures

All GDP values ​​are given in US dollars ( purchasing power parity ).

year 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
(purchasing power parity)
3.16 billion 4.41 billion 5.49 billion 9.34 billion 10.55 billion 13.18 billion 13.90 billion 15.85 billion 16.11 billion 17.34 billion 19.33 billion 19.95 billion 21.26 billion 22.43 billion 25.69 billion 28.04 billion 29.08 billion 30.33 billion
GDP per capita
(purchasing power parity)
1,067 1,323 1,462 2,067 2,056 2,280 2,348 2,348 2,617 2,600 2,891 2,830 2,861 2,954 3,313 3,540 3,597 3,675
GDP growth
−2.3% 3.6% −3.0% −3.4% −2.5% 3.9% 2.3% 11.1% −0.3% 6.8% 10.1% 1.1% 4.6% 3.8% 12.5% 9.0% 2.4% 2.5%
(in percent)
12.1% 3.7% 7.0% 17.3% 15.6% 1.8% 2.4% 0.9% 10.8% 6.9% 5.1% 4.4% 4.5% 5.0% 5.2% 6.0% 6.7% 5.2%
Public debt
(as a percentage of GDP)
... ... ... 36% 42% 32% 26% 23% 22% 22% 17% 16% 19% 25% 27% 29% 32% 33%


Traditionally, the informal agricultural sector of Papua New Guinea is very strong. 73.7% of the population find their livelihood there, also due to high unemployment. A significant part of agricultural activity is limited to subsistence farming . The share of agriculture in the gross domestic product (GDP) is accordingly only 26%, while industry generates 42% and the service sector 32%.

In the formal sector, the primary sector dominates: mining, plantation economy ( coffee , copra , cocoa and palm oil ) and the timber industry. Papua New Guinea still has vast areas of undeveloped forests. The country is therefore largely dependent on the world market prices, which are often strongly fluctuating in the raw material sector, since processing mostly takes place abroad.


In order to stabilize the internal economic cycles, the use of the traditional shell money of the Tolai as a complementary currency has been officially promoted since 2002 . In February 2002, the world's first mussel bank was opened near Rabaul on the island of New Britain. The Tolai Exchange Bank changes the shell money into hard currency, the kina . The current exchange rate is four kina for a fathom (a necklace with shells). On the Gazelle Peninsula alone, the amount of shell money in circulation is estimated at eight million kina.

Foreign trade

The foreign trade is characterized by a high export surplus: During 2001, 4.655 billion euros were exported goods, the imports amounted to 808 million euros. The main exports are gold (35%), crude oil (31%), copper (11%) and coffee (5%). Mainly machines, transport equipment and industrial goods are imported.

Papua New Guinea is a member of the International Cocoa Organization .

State budget

The state budget in 2016 comprised expenditures equivalent to US $ 4.295 billion , which was offset by income equivalent to US $ 3.169 billion. This results in a budget deficit of 5.6% of GDP .

The national debt in 2016 was $ 6.7 billion, or 33.4% of GDP.

In 2006, the share of government expenditure (as a percentage of GDP) was as follows:

In particular, the former colonial power Australia the state budget of Papua New Guinea supported massively in the context of budget support . These payments made up a significant portion of government revenue. The lack of transparency in budget procedures in the 1990s led to the unbound budget subsidies being converted into pure project aid. The last budget grant came in the Australian fiscal year 1998/99.


Despite numerous sights, such as the Kokoda Track , and an extremely diverse and varied landscape, tourism in Papua New Guinea has so far only been minimal. Every year around 70,000 people visit Papua New Guinea. Traveling to certain areas is considered very dangerous. Due to the very high crime rate, the Federal Foreign Office recommends particular caution when visiting Port Moresby , Lae , in the highlands, in Mount Hagen and on the island of Bougainville .


Road network

The road network only reaches part of the population. In addition to routes in coastal areas, a two-lane road leads from Lae and Madang into the highlands and connects Kainantu, Goroka , and Mount Hagen to the rest of the country. The capital Port Moresby and the Sepik towns of Wewak and Vanimo are not connected to the rest of the country by land. Of the 19,600 kilometers of road, 600 kilometers are paved.

air traffic

As the airplane is an important means of transport, there are other smaller airfields and runways in addition to the modernized Port Moresby International Airport 472. The national airline Air Niugini flies to domestic airports as well as Asian and oceanic countries.


The 16 largest ports include the overseas ports of Port Moresby, Lae , Madang and Rabaul . Goods and people are transported by water. Cruise ships occasionally dock in Papua New Guinea.



It wasn't until 2000 that a literary scene emerged in Port Moresby. Before only single authors appeared, today there are well over 100 writers who are more or less literary. The most important literary prize in the country is the Crocodile Prize , which has been awarded since 2010 and which is linked to publication in an associated anthology. Notable authors are Russell Soaba and Michael Dom .


In the field of music, George Telek as a pop and folk singer and the rapper O-Shen were successful at the national level .


The media landscape has grown rapidly since Papua New Guinea gained independence in 1975. In 1975 a broadcast network (NBC) broadcast and a newspaper appeared; There were no TV channels and there was no journalism training at the universities. In 2002, the two competing English-language daily newspapers Papua New Guinea Post-Courier and The National appeared.

The National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) is Papua New Guinea's state broadcaster with headquarters in Boroko (Port Moresby) and studios across the country. The radio programs NBC Radio and The Tribe as well as the television channel NBC TV (formerly Kundu 2) are produced. In addition, the commercial provider EM TV (Fiji Television) has broadcast terrestrial nationwide since 1987. Other providers are Digicel PNG and Click TV PNG.



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Web links

Wiktionary: Papua New Guinea  - explanations of meanings, origins of words, synonyms, translations
Commons : Papua New Guinea  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
 Wikinews: Papua New Guinea  - in the news
Wikimedia Atlas: Papua New Guinea  - geographical and historical maps

Coordinates: 6 °  S , 146 °  E

Individual evidence

  1. World Statistics Pocketbook 2011, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Statistics Division, United Nations, New York, 2012, ISBN 978-92-1-161558-6 .
  2. UN Statistics Division, World Statistics Pocketbook 2015, p. 154. ( Memento of the original from January 1, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. (PDF) International Monetary Fund
  5. United Nations Development Program ( UNDP ),
  6. ^ Papua New Guinea Time Zones, 2000–2017, accessed on January 22, 2017.
  7. ^ A b World Population Prospects - Population Division - United Nations. Retrieved July 21, 2017 .
  8. The Brockhaus . 5 volumes. FAB, Leipzig / Mannheim 2003, ISBN 3-7653-1608-3 .
  9. a b Meyer's Large Country Lexicon . Meyers Lexikonverlag, Mannheim 2004, ISBN 3-411-07431-0 .
  10. Migration Report 2017. UN, accessed on September 30, 2018 (English).
  11. Origins and Destinations of the World's Migrants, 1990-2017 . In: Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project . February 28, 2018 ( [accessed September 30, 2018]).
  12. Papua New Guinea - Total Population through 2024. Accessed June 14, 2020 .
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  14. ^ CIA World Fact Book Papua New Guinea. Retrieved October 16, 2011 .
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