Papua New Guinea [Country Flag of Papua New Guinea]
Transnational Issues
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Papua New Guinea


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Location: Southeastern Asia, group of islands including the eastern half of the island of New Guinea between the Coral Sea and the South Pacific Ocean, east of Indonesia

Geographic coordinates: 6 00 S, 147 00 E

Map references: Oceania

total: 462,840 sq km
land: 452,860 sq km
water: 9,980 sq km

Area—comparative: slightly larger than California

Land boundaries:
total: 820 km
border countries: Indonesia 820 km

Coastline: 5,152 km

Maritime claims: measured from claimed archipelagic baselines
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: tropical; northwest monsoon (December to March), southeast monsoon (May to October); slight seasonal temperature variation

Terrain: mostly mountains with coastal lowlands and rolling foothills

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Wilhelm 4,509 m

Natural resources: gold, copper, silver, natural gas, timber, oil, fisheries

Land use:
arable land: 0.1%
permanent crops: 1%
permanent pastures: 0%
forests and woodland: 92.9%
other: 6% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: NA sq km

Natural hazards: active volcanism; situated along the Pacific "Rim of Fire"; the country is subject to frequent and sometimes severe earthquakes; mud slides

Environment—current issues: rain forest subject to deforestation as a result of growing commercial demand for tropical timber; pollution from mining projects; severe drought

Environment—international agreements:
party to: Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol

Geography—note: shares island of New Guinea with Indonesia; one of world's largest swamps along southwest coast


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Population: 4,599,785 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 40% (male 936,206; female 888,427)
15-64 years: 57% (male 1,374,471; female 1,263,750)
65 years and over: 3% (male 62,593; female 74,338) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.27% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 32.37 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 9.65 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.09 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.84 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 57.09 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 58.06 years
male: 57.18 years
female: 58.98 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 4.26 children born/woman (1998 est.)

noun: Papua New Guinean(s)
adjective: Papua New Guinean

Ethnic groups: Melanesian, Papuan, Negrito, Micronesian, Polynesian

Religions: Roman Catholic 22%, Lutheran 16%, Presbyterian/Methodist/London Missionary Society 8%, Anglican 5%, Evangelical Alliance 4%, Seventh-Day Adventist 1%, other Protestant sects 10%, indigenous beliefs 34%

Languages: English spoken by 1%-2%, pidgin English widespread, Motu spoken in Papua region
note: 715 indigenous languages

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 72.2%
male: 81%
female: 62.7% (1995 est.)


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Country name:
conventional long form: Independent State of Papua New Guinea
conventional short form: Papua New Guinea
abbreviation: PNG

Data code: PP

Government type: parliamentary democracy

National capital: Port Moresby

Administrative divisions: 20 provinces; Bougainville, Central, Chimbu, Eastern Highlands, East New Britain, East Sepik, Enga, Gulf, Madang, Manus, Milne Bay, Morobe, National Capital, New Ireland, Northern, Sandaun, Southern Highlands, Western, Western Highlands, West New Britain

Independence: 16 September 1975 (from the Australian-administered UN trusteeship)

National holiday: Independence Day, 16 September (1975)

Constitution: 16 September 1975

Legal system: based on English common law

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II of the UK (since 6 February 1952), represented by Governor General Silas ATOPARE (since 13 November 1997)
head of government: Prime Minister Bill SKATE (since 22 July 1997); Deputy Prime Minister Michael NALI (since 16 December 1997); note—NALI replaces Deputy Prime Minister Chris HAIVETA (since 7 September 1994) who Prime Minister SKATE fired on 12 December 1997 for his alleged role in trying to discredit SKATE
cabinet: National Executive Council appointed by the governor general on the recommendation of the prime minister
elections: none; the queen is a hereditary monarch; governor general appointed by the National Executive Council; prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the governor general for up to five years on the basis of majority support in National Parliament

Legislative branch: unicameral National Parliament—sometimes referred to as the House of Assembly (109 seats—89 elected from open electorates and 20 from provincial electorates; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 14-28 June 1997 (next to be held NA June 2002)
election results: percent of vote by party—PPP 15%, Pangu Pati 14%, NA 14%, PDM 8%, PNC 6%, PAP 5%, UP 3%, NP 1%, PUP 1%, independents 33%; seats by party—PPP 16, Pangu Pati 15, NA 15, PDM 9, PNC 7, PAP 5, UP 3, NP 1, PUP 1, independents 37; note—association with political parties is very fluid

Judicial branch: Supreme Court, the chief justice is appointed by the governor general on the proposal of the National Executive Council after consultation with the minister responsible for justice, other judges are appointed by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission

Political parties and leaders: Bougainville Unity Alliance (BUA), Samuel AKOITAI; People's Progress Party (PPP), Michael NALI; Papua New Guinea United Party (Pangu Pati), Chris HAIVETA; National Alliance (NA), Michael SOMARE; People's Democratic Movement (PDM), Iario LASARO; People's Action Party (PAP), Ted DIRO; United Party (UP), Rimbiuk PATO; National Party (NP), Paul PORA; People's Unity Party (PUP), Alfred KAIABE; Melanesian Alliance (MA), Fr. John MOMIS; Movement for Greater Autonomy, Stephen POKAWIN; Christian Democratic Party, Dilu GOMA; Papua New Guinea First Party (includes People's National Congress or PNC, Bill SKATE, and Christian Country Party, Avusi TANO) leader NA; People's Resources Awareness Party, leader NA; Liberal Party, Rabbie SAMAI; People's Solidarity Party, Kala SWOKIM; Melanesian Labour Party, Paul MONDIA; Black Action Party, Paul WANJIK; League for National Advancement (LNA), leader NA; United Resource Party, Masket IANGALIO; Hausman Party, Waim TOKAM; Milne Bay Party, Simon MUMURIK

International organization participation: ACP, APEC, AsDB, ASEAN (observer), C, CP, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITU, NAM, Sparteca, SPC, SPF, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WMO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Nagora Y. BOGAN
chancery: 3rd floor, 1615 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
telephone: [1] (202) 745-3680
FAX: [1] (202) 745-3679

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Arma Jane KARAER
embassy: Douglas Street, Port Moresby
mailing address: P. O. Box 1492, Port Moresby
telephone: [675] 321-1455
FAX: [675] 321-3423

Flag description: divided diagonally from upper hoist-side corner; the upper triangle is red with a soaring yellow bird of paradise centered; the lower triangle is black with five white five-pointed stars of the Southern Cross constellation centered


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Economy—overview: Papua New Guinea is richly endowed with natural resources, but exploitation has been hampered by the rugged terrain and the high cost of developing an infrastructure. Agriculture provides a subsistence livelihood for the bulk of the population. Mineral deposits, including oil, copper, and gold, account for 72% of export earnings. Budgetary support from Australia and development aid under World Bank auspices have helped sustain the economy. In 1995, Port Moresby reached agreement with the IMF and World Bank on a structural adjustment program, of which the first phase was successfully completed in 1996. Droughts caused by the El Nino weather pattern wreaked havoc on Papua New Guinea's coffee, cocoa, and coconut production, the mainstays of the agricultural-based economy and major sources of export earnings. The coffee crop was slashed by up to 50% in 1997. Moreover, droughts could bite into growth in 1998.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$11.6 billion (1996 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 2.3% (1996 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$2,650 (1996 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 26.4%
industry: 41%
services: 32.6% (1996 est.)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 11.6% (1996)

Labor force:
total: 1.941 million
by occupation: agriculture 64% (1993 est.)

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues: $1.5 billion
expenditures: $1.35 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1997 est.)

Industries: copra crushing, palm oil processing, plywood production, wood chip production; mining of gold, silver, and copper; crude oil production; construction, tourism

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity—capacity: 490,000 kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 1.76 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 410 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: coffee, cocoa, coconuts, palm kernels, tea, rubber, sweet potatoes, fruit, vegetables; poultry, pork

total value: $2.5 billion (f.o.b., 1996)
commodities: gold, copper ore, oil, logs, coffee, palm oil, cocoa, lobster
partners: Australia, Japan, Germany, UK, South Korea

total value: $1.7 billion (c.i.f., 1996)
commodities: machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, food, fuels, chemicals
partners: Australia, US, Singapore, Japan, UK

Debt—external: $3.2 billion (1995)

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $291 million (1993); $240 million bilateral aid from Australia (FY96/97 est.); $4.1 million ODA from NZ (FY95/96)

Currency: 1 kina (K) = 100 toea

Exchange rates: kina (K) per US$1—0.6299 (November 1997), 0.7588 (1996), 0.7835 (1995), 0.9950 (1994), 1.0221 (1993); note—the government floated the kina on 10 October 1994

Fiscal year: calendar year


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Telephones: 63,212 (1986 est.)

Telephone system: services are adequate and being improved; facilities provide radiotelephone and telegraph, coastal radio, aeronautical radio, and international radio communication services
domestic: mostly radiotelephone
international: submarine cables to Australia and Guam; satellite earth station—1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean); international radio communication service

Radio broadcast stations: AM 31, FM 2, shortwave 0

Radios: 298,000 (1992 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 1

Televisions: 10,000 (1992 est.)


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Railways: 0 km

total: 19,600 km
paved: 686 km
unpaved: 18,914 km (1996 est.)

Waterways: 10,940 km

Ports and harbors: Kieta, Lae, Madang, Port Moresby, Rabaul

Merchant marine:
total: 17 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 32,859 GRT/45,270 DWT
ships by type: bulk 2, cargo 4, chemical tanker 1, combination ore/oil 5, container 1, oil tanker 2, roll-on/roll-off 2 (1997 est.)

Airports: 495 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 19
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 13
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 1 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 476
1,524 to 2,437 m: 13
914 to 1,523 m: 59
under 914 m: 404 (1997 est.)

Heliports: 2 (1997 est.)


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Military branches: Papua New Guinea Defense Force (includes Ground, Naval, and Air Forces, and Special Forces Unit)

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 1,206,458 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 670,510 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $63 million (1997); note—includes $12 million to cover leftover 1996 expenditures

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: NA

Transnational Issues

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Disputes—international: none