Papua New Guinea

Reference work entry


  • Capital: Port Moresby

  • Population estimate, 2015: 7.62 m.

  • GNI per capita, 2014: (PPP$) 2,463

  • HDI/world rank, 2014: 0.505/158

  • Internet domain extension: .pg

Civil Aviation

Jacksons International Airport is at Port Moresby. The state-owned national carrier is Air Niugini, which carried 1.5 m. passengers in 2013 (1.1 m. on domestic flights). In 2010 there were scheduled international flights to Brisbane, Cairns, Hong Kong, Honiara, Manila, Nadi, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo.


There is a monsoon climate, with high temperatures and humidity the year round. Port Moresby is in a rain shadow and is not typical of the rest of Papua New Guinea. Jan. 82 °F (27.8 °C), July 78 °F (25.6 °C). Annual rainfall 40″ (1,011 mm).

Constitution and Government

The constitution took effect on 16 Sept. 1975. The head of state is the British sovereign, who is represented by a Governor-General, nominated by parliament for 6-year terms. A single legislative house, known as the National Parliament, is made up of 111 members: 89 district representatives and 22 provincial representatives (MPs). The members are elected by universal suffrage; elections are held every 5 years. All citizens over the age of 18 are eligible to vote and stand for election. Voting is by secret ballot and follows the limited preferential system. The Prime Minister, nominated by parliament and appointed by the Governor-General, selects ministers for the National Executive Council. The government cannot be subjected to a vote of no confidence in the first 18 months of office. The 20 provincial assemblies, comprising elected national MPs, appointed members and elected local government representatives, are headed by a Governor, normally the provincial representative in the National Parliament.


The unit of currency is the Nepalese rupee (NPR) of 100 paisas. 50 paisas = 1 mohur.


The Papua New Guinea Defence Force had a total estimated strength of 3,100 in 2011 consisting of land, maritime and air elements. The Land Element, the senior of the three services, had around 2,500 personnel in 2011. The Maritime Operations Element, with around 400 personnel in 2011, has four patrol boats and two landing craft. There is an Air Operations Element, 200 strong in 2011, but it does not possess any combat capable aircraft. Defence expenditure in 2013 totalled US$84 m. (US$13 per capita), representing 0.5% of GDP.


Agriculture, forestry and fishing contributed 34.8% to GDP in 2008; followed by mining and quarrying, 25.1%; construction, 10.4%; and public administration, defence and services, 8.4%.


In 2012 the economically active population numbered 3.19 m. persons. The rate of unemployment was 2.3%.


In 2008 there were two daily newspapers (the Papua New Guinea Post-Courier and the National) and a number of weeklies and monthlies. The Papua New Guinea Post-Courier is the oldest (1969) and most widely read, with a daily circulation of 30,000 (2007).


The Constitution provides for freedom of religion. In 2010 there were an estimated 4.69 m. Protestants and 2.06 m. Catholics according to the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life.


The national road system comprises some 8,800 km and there are about 8,100 km of provincial roads, as well as district, local and other roads. However, much of the network is in poor condition. There were 38,200 passenger cars in use in 2007 and 11,300 lorries and vans.


There are 12 entry and four other main ports served by five major shipping lines; the Papua New Guinea Shipping Corporation is state-owned. In Jan. 2009 there were 55 ships of 300 GT or over registered, totalling 44,000 GT.

Social Statistics

Estimates, 2008: births, 207,000; deaths, 52,000. Rates, 2008 estimates (per 1,000 population): births, 31.4; deaths, 7.9. Expectation of life at birth in 2013 was 60.4 years for males and 64.6 years for females. Annual population growth rate, 2000–08, 2.5%. Infant mortality, 2010, 47 per 1,000 live births; fertility rate, 2008, 4.1 births per woman.


In 2009 there were 133.7 mobile phone subscriptions for every 1,000 inhabitants and 8.9 fixed telephone lines per 1,000 inhabitants. In the same year there were an estimated 18.6 internet users per 1,000 inhabitants. In 2004 the government rejected a bid by a South African joint venture to acquire a 51% stake in the state-owned telecommunications company Telikom PNG.

Territory and Population

Papua New Guinea extends from the equator to Cape Baganowa in the Louisiade Archipelago to 11.40′ S. lat. and from the border of West Irian to 160° E. long. with a total area of 462,840 km2. According to the 2011 census the population was 7,275,324 (3,772,864 males); density, 15.7 per km2. In 2011, 12.6% of the population lived in urban areas (the second lowest percentage in the world). In 2011 population of Port Moresby (National Capital District) was 364,125. Other main towns are Lae, Madang, Mount Hagen, Wewak, Goroka and Kimbe. Tok Pisin (or Pidgin, a creole of English), Hiri Motu and English are all official languages.


In 2008 there were 114,000 non-resident tourists (excluding same-day visitors), up from 104,000 in 2007 and 78,000 in 2006.

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© Springer Nature Limited 2019

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