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Papua New Guinea travel guide - Travel S helper

Papua New Guinea

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Papua New Guinea is an Oceanian nation that occupies the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and its outlying islands in Melanesia, a region of the southwestern Pacific Ocean north of Australia. Port Moresby, on the country’s southern coast, serves as its capital. The Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua comprise the western half of New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea is one of the world’s most culturally varied nations, with 852 languages recorded, 12 of which have no known live speakers. The majority of the nearly 7 million-strong population lives in customary communities, which are as varied as the languages. It is also one of the most rural, with just 18% of its inhabitants living in cities. The nation is one of the least explored in the world, both culturally and geographically; numerous unknown kinds of flora and animals, as well as uncontacted people, are believed to reside in the interior.

The International Monetary Fund classifies Papua New Guinea as a developing economy. Strong development in the mining and resource sectors propelled Papua New Guinea to the world’s sixth fastest-growing economy in 2011, but growth was anticipated to decrease after large resource projects came online in 2015. Mining, on the other hand, remains a significant economic element, with discussions between the local and national governments about restarting mining activities in the previously closed-off Panguna mine. Almost 40% of the population lives a self-sustaining natural lifestyle with no access to global finance.

Locally, the bulk of the population still lives in strong customary communities, and – although social life is layered with traditional religious cosmologies and contemporary activities, such as traditional basic education – customary subsistence agriculture is essential. These groups and clans are officially recognized under the country’s constitutional structure. The Papua New Guinea Constitution states a desire for “traditional villages and communities to survive as viable components of Papua New Guinean society,” as well as for active measures to be made to ensure their continued significance to local and national community life.

On a national level, after being governed by three foreign countries since 1884, Papua New Guinea regained sovereignty in 1975, after almost 60 years of Australian administration. It became a distinct Commonwealth realm with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state, and it joined the Commonwealth of Nations as an independent member.


Papua New Guinea is the world’s 54th largest country, covering 462,840 km2 (178,704 sq mi). It is located between latitudes 0° and 12° S and longitudes 140° and 160° E, including all of its islands.

The country’s terrain is varied and, in parts, very rough. The New Guinea Highlands stretch the length of the island of New Guinea, creating a populated highlands area mainly covered in tropical rainforest, and the long Papuan Peninsula, known as the ‘Bird’s Tail. Dense rainforests may be found in the lowland and coastal regions, as well as extremely extensive wetland areas around the Sepik and Fly rivers. This topography has made it difficult for the nation to build transportation infrastructure. Some places can only be reached by foot or by aircraft. Mount Wilhelm, at 4,509 metres, is the highest point (14,793 ft). Papua New Guinea is bordered by coral reefs, which are being closely monitored in the interest of preservation.

The nation is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, near the meeting point of multiple tectonic plates. There are many active volcanoes in the area, and eruptions are common. Earthquakes are quite frequent, and they are occasionally followed by tsunamis.

The country’s mainland is the eastern half of New Guinea island, which also contains the country’s biggest cities, including Port Moresby (capital) and Lae; other significant islands within Papua New Guinea are New Ireland, New Britain, Manus, and Bougainville.

Snowfall occurs in the most elevated areas of the mainland of Papua New Guinea, making it one of the few places near the equator to experience it.


Papua New Guinea has a tropical climate and is located just south of the equator. Temperatures in the highlands, on the other hand, are noticeably cooler. The (very) wet season lasts from about December to March. The months of June through September are ideal for hiking.


Papua New Guinea is one of the world’s most diverse countries. There are hundreds of indigenous ethnic groups in Papua New Guinea, the majority of them being Papuans, whose ancestors arrived in the New Guinea area tens of thousands of years ago. The region’s other indigenous peoples are Austronesians, whose ancestors arrived fewer than four thousand years ago.

Chinese, Europeans, Australians, Indonesians, Filipinos, Polynesians, and Micronesians are among those who have moved here from various areas of the globe (the last four belonging to the Austronesian family). In 1975, there were about 40,000 expatriates in Papua New Guinea, the majority of them were from Australia and China.


The courts and government practice support the constitutional right to free expression, opinion, and belief, and no legislation to restrict such rights has been enacted. According to the 2011 census, 95.6 percent of residents identified as members of a Christian church, 1.4 percent were not Christian, and 3.1 percent did not respond to this census question. Those who said they had no religion accounted for about 0% of the total. Many people blend their Christian religion with local religious traditions.

Protestants make up the majority of Christians in Papua New Guinea, accounting for approximately 70% of the overall population. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, several Pentecostal groups, the United Church of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, the Evangelical Alliance Papua New Guinea, and the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea are the most prominent. Aside from Protestants, there is a significant Roman Catholic minority, accounting for about 25% of the population.

The Bahai Faith has a significant following among non-Christians. In addition, there are about 4,000 Muslims in the nation. The majority are Sunnis, with a minor proportion being Ahmadis. Throughout the nation, non-traditional Christian churches and non-Christian religious organizations are active. According to the Papua New Guinea Council of Churches, Muslim and Confucian missionaries are active, and international missionary activity in general is high.

Animism is common in traditional faiths. Some also practice Veneration of the Dead, but generalization is dangerous given the great variety of Melanesian cultures. The belief in masalai, or bad spirits, who are blamed for “poisoning” humans, bringing disaster and death, is widespread among traditional tribes, as is the practice of puripuri (sorcery).


Papua New Guinea is blessed with abundant natural resources, including mineral and renewable resources such as forests, marine (containing a significant percentage of the world’s main tuna stocks), and agricultural in certain areas. The rugged terrain, which includes high mountain ranges and valleys, swamps, and islands, as well as the high cost of developing infrastructure, combined with other factors (including serious law and order problems in some centers and the customary land title system), makes it difficult for outside developers. Years of inadequate investment in education, health, ICT, and access to financing have hampered local developers. Agriculture, both for subsistence and commercial crops, employs 85 percent of the people and accounts for 30 percent of GDP. Mineral resources, such as gold, oil, and copper, contribute for 72% of total export profits. Oil palm production has increased significantly in recent years (mostly from estates and with considerable outgrower output), and palm oil is now the primary agricultural export. Coffee is the primary export crop among participating households (produced mostly in the Highlands regions), followed by cocoa and coconut oil/copra from the coastal areas, both primarily produced by smallholders, and tea produced on estates and rubber. In the Papuan fold and thrust belt, the Iagifu/Hedinia Field was found in 1986.

Following the 1997 agreement that ended Bougainville’s secessionist unrest, former Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta attempted to restore integrity to state institutions, stabilize the kina, restore stability to the national budget, privatize public enterprises where appropriate, and ensure ongoing peace on Bougainville. The Morauta administration was quite successful in getting international help, especially from the IMF and the World Bank in obtaining development assistance loans. Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare has significant difficulties, including restoring investor confidence, continuing attempts to privatize government assets, and retaining the support of members of Parliament.

Because to prolonged economic and social stagnation, the United Nations Development Programme Policy recommended for Papua New Guinea’s classification as a developing country to be demoted to least-developed country in March 2006. The International Monetary Fund, on the other hand, concluded in late 2008 that “a combination of conservative fiscal and monetary policies, as well as strong global prices for mineral commodity exports, have supported Papua New Guinea’s recent robust economic development and macroeconomic stability.” By 2012, PNG has had a decade of solid economic development, with annual growth rates of more than 6% since 2007, even throughout the Global Financial Crisis years of 2008/9. According to the Asian Development Bank, PNG’s real GDP growth rate in 2011 was 8.9 percent, and 9.2 percent in 2012.

This economic growth has been primarily attributed to strong commodity prices, particularly mineral but also agricultural, with the high demand for mineral products largely sustained even during the crisis by buoyant Asian markets, a thriving mining sector, and especially since 2009 by a buoyant outlook and the construction phase for natural gas exploration, production, and exportation in liquid form (exploration, production wells, pipelines, storage, liquefaction plants, port terminals, LNG tanker ships).

The first significant gas project is the PNG LNG project, headed by ExxonMobil, which is set to begin production in late 2014, primarily for export to China, Japan, South Korea, and other Asian nations. This ExxonMobil-led partnership comprises Oil Search, a PNG firm headquartered in Port Moresby, with a 29 percent stake.

A second major project is based on initial rights held by Total S.A., the French oil and gas major, and InterOil Corp. (IOC), which have partly combined their assets after Total agreed in December 2013 to purchase 61.3 percent of IOC’s Antelope and Elk gas field rights, with the plan to develop them beginning in 2016, including the construction of a liquefaction plant to allow export. Total S.A. has a separate joint operating agreement with the PNG firm Oil Search.

Royal Dutch Shell, an Anglo-Dutch conglomerate, said in 2011 that it is contemplating investing in gas exploration and production in Papua New Guinea.

More gas and mineral projects are being considered (including the massive Wafi-Golpu copper-gold mine), and significant exploration is taking place throughout the nation.

Economic ‘growth’ based on extractive industries has a negative impact on local populations. River tailings in the huge Fly River, underwater tailings from the new Ramu-Nickel-Cobalt mine, which began exports in late 2012 (after a delay due to landowner-led legal challenges), and planned submarine mining in the Bismarck Sea have all sparked controversy (by Nautilus Minerals). Other paths to sustainable development should be explored, according to one significant initiative carried out by the PNG Department of Community Development.

The PNG government’s long-term Vision 2050 and shorter-term policy documents, such as the 2013 Budget and the 2014 Responsible Sustainable Development Strategy, emphasize the need for a more diverse economy based on sustainable industries and avoiding the effects of Dutch Disease from major resource extraction projects undermining other industries, as has happened in many other countries. Measures have been taken to mitigate these effects, including the establishment of a sovereign wealth fund, in part to stabilize revenue and expenditure flows, but much will depend on the willingness to make real reforms to effectively use revenue, combat rampant corruption, and empower households and businesses to access markets and services, as well as develop a more buoyant economy with lower unemployment.

Every five years, the Institute of National Affairs, a PNG independent policy think tank, publishes a report on the business and investment environment of Papua New Guinea based on a survey of large and small, local and foreign companies, highlighting law and order issues and corruption as the most significant impediments, followed by poor transportation, power, and communications infrastructure.

How To Travel To Papua New Guinea

By planeThe country's international airport is Jackson International Airport in Port Moresby.Air Niugini serves Cairns, Sydney, and Brisbane in Australia; Honiara in the Solomon Islands; Manila in the Philippines; Tokyo (Narita) in Japan; and Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Hong Kong.Papua New Guinea Airlines travels to and from Cairns and...

How To Travel Around Papua New Guinea

By carWhen it comes to travel, Papua New Guinea is a weird country. Because of the country's tropical climate, harsh terrain, and lack of government capability, there are relatively few paved roadways.There are no major highways connecting Port Moresby to anyplace else, with the exception of a short stretch...

Visa & Passport Requirements for Papua New...

Everyone requires a visa to visit Papua New Guinea, however all EU/EFTA nationals may get a 60-day visa on arrival and to citizens of Andorra, Argentina, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Fiji, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kiribati, Macau, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Monaco, Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand,...

Destinations in Papua New Guinea

Regions in Papua New GuineaThe nation is split into nine regions:Southern Papua New GuineaThis area includes the Port Moresby National Capital District, as well as the Central and Northern provinces. The starting location for all Papua New Guinea trips.Western Papua New GuineaThe provinces of the West and the Gulf....

Accommodation & Hotels in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea has a broad range of lodging options for visitors on a tight budget.Hotels are very costly (at least USD100 per night, and often considerably more). Guesthouses are the most affordable choice in the towns, although they are still costly (about USD40/night). The cheapest alternative is to...

Things To See in Papua New Guinea

South New GuineaThe Kokoda Route is a 60-mile trail that starts in Port Moresby and leads up into the Owen Stanley Range. This route was originally used by gold miners in the 1890s and is best known as a World War II historical location where the Japanese attempted to...

Things To Do in Papua New Guinea

Scuba DivingScuba dive with one of the more than a dozen local scuba diving companies. A excellent place to start is the national Scuba Diving industry organization. Papua New Guinea offers some of the finest tropical reef diving on the planet.BirdwatchingWith over 700 kinds of birds, including numerous birds...

Food & Drinks in Papua New Guinea

Spices are generally absent from the cuisine. A Mumu, a subterranean oven in which meat and vegetables such as Kaukau (sweet potatoes) are cooked, is a common method of cooking. Rice and another kind of carbohydrate are included in almost every meal.There is typically a mix of this kind...

Money & Shopping in Papua New Guinea

There isn't much shopping in the traditional sense. There are a few malls and supermarkets in the main cities. Otherwise, the majority of shopping is done at tiny markets that are conducted on an irregular basis. The artisan fair, which is hosted once a month in Port Moresby opposite...

Language & Phrasebook in Papua New Guinea

With over 800 languages, it was impossible to get everyone to communicate with one another. Tok Pisin and Hiri Motu grew up in this region, and when the Anglophones married the Hulis and their children learnt the one language they had in common, Tok Pisin became a creole. Tok...

Culture Of Papua New Guinea

It is believed that Papua New Guinea has over a thousand cultural groupings. Many forms of cultural expression have developed as a result of this variety. Each tribe developed its own expressive forms in painting, dancing, weapons, clothing, singing, music, building, and other fields.The majority of these cultural groups...

History Of Papua New Guinea

There is evidence of human habitation in what is now Papua New Guinea dating back 35,000 years. This is from an ancient site near Namatanai in New Ireland province called Matenkupkum. Other archaeological investigations in New Ireland have unearthed artifacts and food remains going back 20,000 years.In more recent...

Stay Safe & Healthy in Papua New...

Stay Safe in Papua New GuineaIn certain circles (mainly Australian ones), the country is regarded as a hazardous destination, owing to the operations of criminal gangs (called in Tok Pisin as raskols) in major towns, particularly Port Moresby and Lae.This is usually due to increasing internal migration from subsistence...



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