Papua New Guinea (PNG; Tok Pisin: Papua Niugini), officially named the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania that occupies the eastern half of the island of New Guinea (the western portion of the island is a part of the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua) and numerous offshore islands. It is located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, in a region described since the early 19th century as Melanesia. The capital is Port Moresby.
Human remains have been found which have been dated to about 50,000 BC although this is an estimate. These ancient inhabitants probably migrated from Southeast Asia, from people whose ancestors had originated in Africa 50,000 to 70,000 years ago. New Guinea was first populated by modern humans at approximately the same time as Australia.
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. In some areas, airplanes are the only mode of transport. 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.
Papua New Guinea is richly endowed with natural resources, including mineral and renewable resources, such as forests, marine (including a large portion of the world's major remaining tuna stocks), and in some parts for agriculture. The rugged terrain, including high mountain ranges and valleys, swamps and islands, and high cost of developing infrastructure, combined with other factors, including serious law and order problems in some centres, and the system of customary land title makes it difficult for outside developers, whilst local developers are also handicapped by years of deficient investment in education, health, ICT and access to finance. Agriculture, both for subsistence and cash crops provides a livelihood for 85% of the population and continues to provide some 30% of GDP. Mineral deposits, including gold, oil, and copper, account for 72% of export earnings. Oil palm production has grown steadily over recent years (largely from estates, but with extensive outgrower output), with palm oil now the main agricultural export, but in terms of households participating coffee remains the major export crop (produced largely in the Highlands provinces), followed by cocoa and coconut oil/copra from the coastal areas, each largely produced by smallholders and tea, produced on estates and rubber.
The courts and government practice uphold the constitutional right to freedom of speech, thought, and belief, and no legislation to curb those rights has been adopted. The 2000 census found that 96% of citizens identified themselves as members of a Christian church; however, many citizens combine their Christian faith with some traditional indigenous religious practices.
Popular Places in Papua New Guinea
Visit Goroka, the Highlands
Visit Madang Province, the Coast
Visit Milne Bay, the Coast
Visit Mount Hagen, the Highlands
Visit New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea