OFFICIAL NAME: Independent State of Papua New Guinea
CAPITAL: Port Moresby
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Constitutional Monarchy
AREA: 461,691 Sq Km (178,260 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION: 4,481,600
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Papua New Guinea is located in the
South West Pacific Ocean on the eastern half of the island
of New Guinea. The territory includes the Bismarck and Louisiade
Archipelagoes as well as the Trobriand and D'Entrecasteaux
Islands and other offshore islands including New Britain,
New Ireland and Bougainville. It is bound by the Gulf of
Guinea and the Coral Sea to the south, Indonesia to the
west, the Solomon Sea to the east and the Bismarck Sea to
the northeast. The main island which accounts for around
85% of the land area, has a complex chain of ranges that
make the central mountain core of the country. The mountain
core is interspersed by broad upland valleys while the central
depression that includes the valleys of the Sepik, Ramu
and Markham Rivers, lies between the north and central ranges.
Along the Daru coast, a great delta plain of swamps exists
and large areas of the country are also covered by swamps.
In general, the offshore islands are characterized by a
similar pattern of mountain ranges with swampy coastal plains.
The principal rivers are the Fly, Purari, Kikori, Sepik
and Ramu. Major Cities (pop. est.); Port Moresby 193,200,
Lae 80,700, Madang 27,100, Wewak 23,200, Goroka 17,900 (1990).
Land Use; forested 84%, pastures 0.5%, agricultural-cultivated
1%, other 14.5% (1993).
CLIMATE: Papua New Guinea has a monsoonal climate characterized
by high temperatures and humidity throughout the year. The NW Monsoon season
is from December to March while the SW Monsoon season is from May to October.
Rainfall is at its heaviest in the highlands with average annual precipitation
varying between 2,000 and 5,000 mm (79 to 197 inches). Average temperature
ranges in Port Moresby are from 26 degrees Celsius (79 degrees Fahrenheit)
to 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit) all year.
PEOPLE: The country's population is broadly divided into two
groups. The Papuans and the Melanesians. The Papuans who are concentrated
in the interior of the country have Australoid and Negroid characteristics,
while the Melanesians are mainly located along the coasts and on the offshore
islands. The principal ethnic minority are the Chinese.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 8.1 persons per sq km
(21.0 persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 15.2% urban, 84.8% rural
(1990). Sex Distribution; 52.1% male, 47.9% female (1990). Life Expectancy
at Birth; 54.0 years male, 56.0 years female (1990). Age Breakdown; 40%
under 15, 29% 15 to 29, 17% 30 to 44, 9% 45 to 59, 4% 60 to 74, 1% 75 and
over (1990). Birth Rate; 34.0 per 1,000 (1990). Death Rate; 11.0 per 1,000
(1990). Increase Rate; 23.0 per 1,000 (1990). Infant Mortality Rate; 68.0
per 1,000 live births (1990).
RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians with around 58% of the population
Protestant while 33% are Roman Catholic and 5% are Anglican. The remainder
follow local native tribal beliefs.
LANGUAGES: The official language is English, although a Pidgin
form is more widely used. Over 750 languages and dialects are also spoken
throughout the territory.
EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: no formal schooling
82.6%, incomplete primary 8.2%, primary 5.0%, higher 4.2% (1980). Literacy;
literate population aged 15 or over 757,500 or 42.3% (1980).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: In Dec. 1973 Papua New Guinea
(PNG) gained internal self-government and on Sept. 16, 1975 gained full
independence from Australia. In 1976 ethnic secessionist threats increased,
although they were initially quelled by the establishment of a system of
decentralized provincial governments. In 1979 a State of Emergency was
declared after ethnic unrest escalated and in 1980 PNG armed forces assisted
the newly independent Vanuatu in putting down a secessionist movement.
In 1985 another State of Emergency was declared and in 1988 ethnic unrest
resurfaced on Bougainville Island. In 1989 military presence was increased
on Bougainville which resulted in fighting between the government forces
and the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA). In April 1988 Prime Minister
Paias Wingti suspended the Parliament in an attempt to halt a pending vote
of no confidence, however, in July he was finally deposed. Prime Minister
Wingti was replaced by Rabbie Namaliu who embarked on a program of political
and economic reforms. In May 1989 the Bougainville Copper Mine was forced
to close which resulted in PNG being deprived of 40% of its export earnings.
In Jan. 1991 the government signed a peace treaty with the Bouganville
rebels that established a South Bougainville Interim Authority, although
fighting continued throughout the year. In July 1991 legislation was passed
which limited the number no-confidence motions against an incoming government
for its first 12 months in office. In Sept. 1991 an anti-corruption Leadership
Tribunal found the Deputy Prime Minister Ted Diro, guilty of 81 out of
86 charges of misconduct and corruption. Following which the government
and opposition called on Sir Serei Eri, the Governor-General to dismiss
Diro which he declined to do. In Oct. 1991 both Diro and Sir Eri resigned
after Prime Minister Namaliu sent an emissary to Queen Elizabeth II requesting
her to dismiss the Governor-General. In Nov. 1991 the Parliament elected
Wiwa Korowi as Sir Eri's successor. In April 1992 the BRA leader, Tony
Anugu was murdered. In June 1992 Prime Minister Namaliu was defeated in
general elections and was succeeded on July 17, 1992 by former Prime Minister
Wingti upon the casting vote of the speaker of Parliament. In Oct. 1992
the government launched a major offensive into BRA strongholds on Bougainville
that resulted in the capture of the town of Arawa. In Dec. 1992 former
Prime Minister Namaliu was charged with the misappropriation of government
funds. In 1993 due to escalating crime from "rascal gangs" and
the difficulties for law enforcement in protecting foreign nationals and
local citizens, the government announced plans to introduce a national
registration system for citizens where every person would be required to
carry identification. On Sept. 23, 1993 Prime Minister Wingti resigned
and was reelected almost immediately thereby outmaneuvering his opposition
and minimizing the possibility of a vote of no confidence. Also in 1993
Prime Minister Wingti visited Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia to build
on trade and economic relations with Asia.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Kina (K) divided into
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $4,646,000,000 (1993). Public
Debt; USD $1,516,000,000 (1993). Imports; K 1,336,000,000 (1994). Exports;
K 2,662,000,000 (1994). Tourism Receipts; USD $45,000,000 (1993). Balance
of Trade; K 1,322,800,000 (1994). Economically Active Population; 732,800
or 24.6% of total population (1980). Unemployed; 12.8% (1980).
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are Japan, Germany,
Australia, the UK, the Netherlands and Spain.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Bananas, Cassava, Cocoa, Coconuts, Coffee,
Copper, Gold, Rubber, Sago, Silver, Sugar, Sweet Potatoes, Tea, Timber,
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Food Processing, Forestry, Mining,
MAIN EXPORTS: Cocoa, Coconut Oil, Coffee, Copper, Copra, Fish, Gold,
Palm Oil, Timber.
TRANSPORT: Railroads; nil. Roads; length 19,736 km (12,263 mi)
(1986). Vehicles; cars 17,121 (1987), trucks and buses 26,061 (1987). Merchant
Marine; vessels 84 (1990), deadweight tonnage 35,354 (1990). Air Transport;
passenger-km 708,000,000 (439,931,000 passenger-mi) (1989), cargo ton-km
16,104,000 (11,030,000 short ton-mi) (1989).
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 2 with a total circulation
of 64,000 (1992). Radio; receivers 260,000 (1994). Television; receivers
10,000 (1994). Telephones; units 39,800 (1993).
MILITARY: 3,800 (1995) total active duty personnel with 84.2%
army, 13.2% navy and 2.6% air force while military expenditure accounts
for 1.8% (1993) of the Gross National Product (GNP).
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