About Papua New Guinea


PRIME MINISTER of Papua New Guinea
Hon Mr Peter O'Neill
Governor-General of Papua New Guinea
H.E. Mr Michael Ogio
The representative of Queen Elizabeth II,
known in Tok Pisin as 'Missis Kwin'





Country Profile

Capital : Port Moresby (population: 254,000).

Languages : English (language of education and business), Tok Pisin, Motu and over 700 indigenous languages

Government : Constitutional monarchy Head of State : Queen Elizabeth II (represented by the Governor General, His Excellency Mr Michael Ogio; Prime Minister : Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare

Land area
: 461,691 square kilometres

Population : 5.8 million (July 2007 estimate) of which 16% live in urban areas. Population growth rate is 2.2% (2006 estimate). Life expectancy: female 68 years; male 63

GDP : US$4.1 billion (2006 estimate)

Currency : Kina, divided into 100 toea. K1.00 = A$ 0.39

Climate : Tropical; consistently high temperatures and humidity, growing more temperate at higher altitudes. Rainfall mostly between December - March. Mean maximum and minimum temperatures are 33° and 22°C respectively.


Papua New Guinea (PNG) is located east of Indonesia and north of the north-eastern tip of Australia. It comprises of the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and approximately 600 other smaller islands. Nearly three quarters of the country is covered by dense tropical rainforests. The country has an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 3.12 million square km.


Human remains found in the country have been dated back to about 50,000 years ago. These remains are from inhabitants who probably had their origins in South East Asia. New Guinea was one of the first land masses after Africa and Eurasia to be populated by human beings.

Spanish and Portuguese explorers encountered New Guinea as early as the 16th Century. However, it was not until the late 1800s when the Germans claimed the northern half of the country as a German colony (German New Guinea) while the southern half (Papua) became a British colony. In 1906, Papua (also known then as British New Guinea) became the Territory of Papua as control was formally transferred to the newly independent Australia. With the outbreak of World War 1, Australia also took control of German New Guinea which in 1920 became a League of Nations mandated trust territory under Australian trusteeship.

The Japanese invaded the Territory in 1942 (during World War 2) and occupied Rabaul and went on to establish themselves on the northern part of mainland New Guinea. The whole of the Trust Territory of New Guinea and the Territory of Papua New Guinea became a theatre of war. The Japanese advance to Port Moresby was halted by the Allied Forces in September 1942.

After the war, the Territory of Papua and New Guinea reverted to Australian control as a single colony. The first Legislative Council for the combined Territories was inaugurated in 1951. The first major constitutional step came in 1964 when a House of Assembly with 64 members came into being.

Self-government was declared on 1 December 1973 and Papua New Guinea achieved independence on 16 September 1975.

Politics & Government

The country has a unicameral Parliament comprising of 109 elected Members. Elections are held every five years. The last elections were held in 2007 after which the current coalition government under Prime Minister Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare was formed.

The Prime Minister’s National Alliance Party is the major political party in government. Other coalition partners include the People’s Action Party, United Resources Party, National Party, Melanesian Alliance Party and Independents.

Political parties in Papua New Guinea are formed and exist more on personalities than on ideology. The National Alliance is the largest party in the coalition government with over thirty members in Parliament, while the rest at the most six or less.


Papua New Guinea has a dual economy. This comprises a subsistence (or non-cash) economy characterized by the majority of the people in rural areas who live off the land through agriculture, fisheries, hunting and related activities.

The cash economy in terms of exports value is dominated by the mining and petroleum sector. Other major exports include fisheries & marine products, forests and agriculture commodities including cocoa, coffee, copra, palm oil, tea and rubber.

In 2008, total exports valued K15.7 billion while imports valued K8.5 billion. The country’s major exports for the period were minerals and crude oil (accounting for 76% of export earnings) followed by agriculture commodities (19%) and others.

The major trading partners in terms of export include Australia, Japan, the Philippines, Korea and Germany. Australia remains as the major source of imports followed by USA, Singapore and Japan.

Foreign Relations

Papua New Guinea became a member of the United Nations soon after independence in 1975. It is a member of various international organizations including among others the Commonwealth, Asia Pacific Economic Forum (APEC), the African, Caribbean & Pacific (ACP) Group of States, the developing countries group (G77) within the UN system, the Pacific Islands Forum and the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).

Papua New Guinea has established diplomatic relations with about eighty seven countries. There are fifteen foreign resident diplomatic missions[1] in the country including from Australia, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Japan, Korea, China, India, the United Kingdom, France, USA and the European Union.

The country has resident Missions in Australia, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, India, Japan, Korea, China, United Kingdom, Belgium (for the EU) and the USA (including the Permanent Mission to the UN in New York).


October 2009


1. World Guide (15th Edition), Hardie Grant Books, 2007

2. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 2007

3. Bank of PNG Quarterly Economic Bulletin, March 2009




The Hiri Moale Festival is celebrated in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. This is a celebration of the traditional Hiri trade that existed from pre-colonial times until some 60 or 70 years ago, where the Motu/Koita people near Port Moresby would create the large multi-hull lagatoi canoes with their crab-claw sails, and sail westwards into the Gulf of Papua to trade clay pots for sago.

It is now a major festival in Port Moresby, commemorating trading and cultural links, and friendship between people and is held in September every year.