PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Papua New Guinea is made up
from the eastern side of the large island of New Guinea and over 600
surrounding islands. The
total land area is 474,000 square kilometres. The main body is formed by
rugged mountains wrapped by rolling foothills and coastal lowlands.
Averaging 3000 metres above sea level, a complex of high mountain ranges
run as a spine from east to west across the country.
The capital is Port Moresby
with other major towns at Lae, Madang and Rabaul.
Water routes are vital to PNG
as they provide the only access to many towns for large supplies and
materials. A small shipping fleet carries supplies along a 5,000
kilometre coastline and 11,000 kilometres of rivers. There are no trains
and only 700 kilometres of sealed highway. Air travel remains the only
reliable way of getting to most regions so there are almost 500
airstrips, nearly all unsealed.
Papua New Guinea is rich in
natural resources, but the rugged terrain and the high cost of
developing infrastructure hamper exploration and mining. Over 90% of the
land is covered by forest and there are active volcanoes in some regions
with many areas subject to severe earthquakes and landslides. Three main
natural resources, gold, copper and oil, account for over 70% of export
earnings whilst silver and timber are becoming increasingly important.
Agriculture provides a
subsistence livelihood for most of the population. The main agricultural
products are grown in plantations and include coffee, cocoa, coconuts,
Port Moresby is a busy
cosmopolitan city today located on rising ground around a big bay.
The people are well supplied with shopping centres, schools and
Fisheries are also important
both at the village and the commercial level. Environmental damage has
occurred by excess deforestation from timber felling and pollution from
the mining industry. Government and other agencies have monitored these
environmental issues more closely in recent years.
climate of PNG is tropical. The northwest monsoons bring rain from about
December to April. The southwest monsoons result in a drier climate from
May to October. Average rainfall is approximately 250 cm annually. The
mountains are cold and wet, the flatlands are hot and steamy, however
PNG also experiences periods of severe drought.
The PNG population is
approximately 5 million. English is the official language although the
most commonly spoken languages are Pidgin and Motu. There are as many as
715 indigenous languages. The
religious beliefs of the people vary with approximately 44% being
Protestant and 22% Roman Catholic. Indigenous traditional beliefs and
ritual practices remain part of life for 34% of the people.
The PNG Parliament House,
After the Second World War,
Australia continued to administer the territories of Papua in the south
and New Guinea to the north, jointly and under a United Nations
trusteeship. On 16 September 1975 Papua New Guinea became independent.
The government and legal systems are based on the British model and are
similar to those of Australia. The British monarch is the Head of State
and represented in PNG by their Governor-General.
The National Parliament meets in Parliament House, Port Moresby
and the members of Parliament serve for five-year terms. Adults over 18
years of age are eligible to vote.