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 speak their own language. People usually reside in communities where subsistence farming is practiced. To supplement their meals, some people hunt and gather wild foods (such as yam roots). Those who become adept at hunting, farming, and fishing are held in high regard.
There is a history of wood carving on the Sepik river, typically in the shape of flora or animals symbolizing ancestral spirits.
Sea shells are no longer used as money in Papua New Guinea, as they were in certain areas – sea shells were demonetized in 1933. This practice is still alive and well in local traditions. In certain cultures, a man must deliver a specific number of golden-edged clam shells as a bride price in order to get a wife. In other parts of the world, the bride price is paid in shell money, pigs, cassowaries, or cash. Brides are typically the ones who pay a dowry in other parts of the world.
Highlanders participate in colorful native rites known as “sing songs.” They paint themselves and dress themselves like birds, trees, or mountain spirits, complete with feathers, pearls, and animal skins. At such a musical festival, a significant event, such as a famous war, is often recreated.
Sport is a significant element of Papua New Guinean culture, with rugby league being by far the most popular. Rugby league has been characterized as a substitute for tribal warfare in a country where communities are widely apart and many people live on a subsistence level to explain local passion for the game (a matter of life and death). By representing their nation or playing in a foreign professional league, several Papua New Guineans have become overnight superstars. Even Australian rugby league players who have competed in the annual State of Origin series, which is fervently celebrated in PNG every year, are among the most well-known individuals in the country.
State of Origin is a highlight of the year for most Papua New Guineans, yet the support is so intense that many people have died in violent confrontations in support of their side throughout the years. Every year, the Papua New Guinea national rugby league team plays the Australian Prime Minister’s XIII (a selection of NRL players) in Port Moresby.
Other prominent sports in Papua New Guinea include Australian rules football, association football, rugby union, basketball, and, in eastern Papua, cricket.
Port Moresby, the capital city, held the Pacific Games in 2015.