Papua New Guinea, the Independent State of Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea , full name The Independent State of Papua New Guinea [ˈpæpæpuːə njuː ˈɡɪni] (ˈpɑːə , Papua New Guinea. ˈpɑːpuːə , ˈpæpjuːə ), tok-pisin Papua Niugini , hiri-motu Papua Niu Gini ) is a state in Oceania, in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, occupying the eastern part of New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, the northern part of the Solomon Islands (Bougainville Islands, Buka Islands), the D’Antrusto Islands, etc. The area is 462 840 sq. km. Population: about 6 million (2009), mainly Papuans and Melanesians. Urban population: 15.2 per cent (1991). Official languages are English, Tok Pisin, and Hiri-Motu. Most of the population is Christian, while others hold to local traditional beliefs. The administrative divisions are divided into 20 provinces. The capital is Port Moresby. It is a member of the Commonwealth. The head of state is the queen, represented by the governor general. The legislative body is the national parliament.



The name “Papua” is derived from the Malay word “Papuwa” The name “Papua” comes from the Malay word “Papuwa”, which in Russian means “curly” (according to another version from “orang Papua” – “curly black-headed man” [1]). This name for the island of New Guinea was given by the Portuguese Menezes in 1526, noting the shape of the hair of the local inhabitants [2]. In 1545 Ortiz de Retes visited the island and gave it the name “New Guinea”, because, in his opinion, the locals were similar to the natives of Guinea in Africa [2] (he may have seen similarities between the shores of the new island and African Guinea [1] ).

From the beginning of European colonization until independence the country changed its official name several times. The southeastern part was called British New Guinea[3] from 1884 to 1906, and Papua[2] from 1906 to 1949 (under Australian control). The northeastern part was first a German colony and from 1884 to 1920 was called German New Guinea (under Australian control from 1914) [2] [4], and from 1920 to 1949 was renamed the Territory of New Guinea under Australian mandate by decision of the League of Nations [2] [5]. In 1949 the two Australian colonies were merged into one, the Territory of Papua and New Guinea [2] [6]. In 1972, the province was named the Territory of Papua New Guinea [7] . Since 1975 the name Papua New Guinea became the official name for the new independent state [2] .

Physical and geographical characteristics

Geographic position and topography

The state of Papua New Guinea is located in the western part of the Pacific Ocean, north of Australia and near the equator. The country occupies the eastern part of the island of New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago to the northeast of it (which includes the large islands of New Britain, New Ireland, and the islands of Admiralty, Tabar, Lihir, Tanga, Feni, St. Matthias and others), located to the east the northern part of the Solomon Islands (with the largest islands with Bougainville and Bouca), located to the southeast of the main island D’Antrusto, Murua (Woodlark), Trobrian, the archipelago Louisiana, as well as other nearby islands and reefs (more than 600 in total [8] ).

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Papua New Guinea is washed by the Arafura, Coral, Solomon, and New Guinea Seas, as well as the Pacific Ocean. The country is separated from Australia by the Torres Strait, about 160 km wide. The country has a land border only with Indonesia (in the west), which runs along the 141 meridian and only deviates westward in a small section along the Fly River. By sea it borders Australia (to the south), the Solomon Islands (southeast), Nauru (east) and the Federated States of Micronesia (north).

New Guinea and most of the other islands in the country are mountainous. The altitude of a large part of the territory is more than 1,000 m above sea level, and some peaks of New Guinea reach 4,500 m, that is, the belt of eternal snow. Many of the mountain ranges are chains of volcanoes. Papua New Guinea has 18 active volcanoes. Most of them are located in the north of the country. Violent, sometimes catastrophic earthquakes are associated with volcanic activity.

The main ranges in the eastern part of the island of New Guinea begin in a band of 50 km right from the border with Indonesia (the Star Mountains, an extension of the Snowy Mountains), gradually increasing to 250 km in the central part (the Central Range, the Bismarck Range with the highest point of the country – Mount William – 4,509 m high, the Schroeder Ridge, the Mueller Ridge and others). Further to the southeast, the mountains become narrower and lower (becoming the Owen-Stanley Ranges, with a maximum height of 4,072 meters – Mount Victoria), and at the southeastern tip of the island they become submerged. Some peaks rise above the water to form the Louisada Archipelago [9] . The northern slopes of these mountains are steep and the southern slopes are gentle. The southern foothill area of the Central Range is commonly referred to as the Papua Plateau. The closer to the sea, the lower is the plateau, gradually becoming a marshy lowland.

Parallel to the central mountains, the low spurs of the North Shore Mountains come into Papua New Guinea from Indonesia: the Bevani Mountains (up to 1960 m high), the Torricelli Mountains (the highest point – Mount Sulen, height of 1650 m), the Prince Alexander Mountains (the highest point – Mount Turu, height of 1240 m) [10]. The coastal mountains end in lowlands (the Sepik and Ramu river valleys). As part of these mountains are often considered Mount Adelbert (the highest point – Mount Mengam, height 1718 m), lying on the right bank of the Ramu River near the mouth, as well as Mount Finisterre and Saruvaged, located on the Huon Peninsula, with a maximum height of 4121 m (Mount Bangeta). In addition to the main island there are significant ridges on the islands of New Britain (Whiteman Ridge, Mount Nakani and Mount Baining, with a maximum height of 2334 m – Ulawun Volcano) and New Ireland (Sheinitz and Warron Ranges, with heights up to 2340 m).


Papua New Guinea is located in the geologically active region at the junction of the Australian (moving northward with a speed of 7 cm/year) and Pacific (moving westward with a speed of 10 cm/year) lithospheric plates [11]. The island of New Guinea is located on the northern tip of the Australian plate and is part of the prehistoric supercontinent Sahul (Meganesia). Geologically, the country is divided into two main geological provinces: the Fly platform, located on the Australian plate, and the New Guinea orogenic zone, located at the junction of the plates [12].

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The Fly Plateau, is a lowland area composed of sedimentary deposits accumulated from the Mesozoic Era through the Quaternary Period. The New Guinea orogenic zone consists of various deformed sedimentary, metamorphic, and volcanic rocks (including intrusive rocks). This zone includes areas of folding (the Papuan, New Guinean thrust belt, and the Oeun-Stanley thrust belt), island arcs (Melanesian arcs), and inland small marine basins [12] .

The Papuan folded region with the Central Range and the Papua Plateau was formed by horizontal compression of rocks and is covered by a thick layer of sedimentary carbonate sediments of Miocene time. The New Guinean thrust belt is located north of the Papuan folding and is represented in relief by the Coast Mountains. It is composed mainly of gneisses formed at moderate pressures by metamorphism of sedimentary and volcanic rocks. Less common are gneisses formed at high pressures. The thrust belt was formed in two stages: the southern part was active during the Late Cretaceous and the northern part during the Eocene-Oligocene (with the formation of gabbro and basalt intrusive minerals in the Torricelli Mountains) [12]. The Owen-Stanley thrust belt was formed southwest of the Papuan folded region as a result of shear, little noticeable in the modern relief. The belt is composed of sedimentary rocks accumulated from the Cretaceous to Miocene, with inclusions of high-pressure metamorphic rocks [12] .



The islands that make up Papua New Guinea have a fairly dense river network. Rivers originate in the mountains and flow into the ocean. During heavy rains, rivers overflow and flood large areas, turning many areas into swamps. There are especially many swamps on the island of New Guinea. The widespread presence of wetlands is also associated with the spread of malaria.


The country has a tropical climate, which is humid in most areas. Fluctuations of temperature during the year are insignificant. Average daily temperature is near 26 °С. Seasons differ only in the amount of precipitation – the dry season and the rainy season. In different places, these seasons occur in different months.

However, only the climate of the coastal areas can be considered hot. Mountainous areas differ significantly in their climate from the plains. The temperature there is lower, and there is more precipitation. Above 2500-3000 m average daily temperature is not more than 10 ° C. It is almost all the time there is small drizzling rain, sometimes falling hail. These areas are not inhabited.

Flora and Fauna

Papua New Guinea has rich and diverse flora and fauna. More than 20,000 plant species can be found there. A vast (in some places up to 35 km) strip of mangrove vegetation stretches along the shores of New Guinea Island. This mangrove zone is completely impassable, and it can be crossed only by swimming on rivers. Along the rivers there are thickets of wild sugarcane and in the wetlands – groves of saiga palms.

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Thick rainforests, formed by hundreds of species of trees, rise along the slopes of the mountains. But now there are also plantations and vegetable gardens. Coconut palms, bananas, sugarcane, melon trees, tuber crops such as taro, yams, yams, yams, cassava, and other crops grow. Vegetable gardens alternate with forests. Plots of land are cultivated for only 2-3 years and then are overgrown with forest for 10-12 years. This is how fertility is restored.

Above 1000-2000 m, forests become more monotonous in composition, and conifers, especially araucaria, begin to dominate. These trees are of economic importance: their timber is a valuable building material. However, the delivery of sawn timber is difficult because there are few good roads.

The highlands of New Guinea are covered with shrubs and grasslands. In the intermountain basins, where the climate is drier, grassy vegetation is common, having replaced forests mainly by fire.

The animal world of the country is represented by reptiles, insects, and especially numerous birds. The mammal fauna, as in the neighboring Australia, is characterized only by representatives of marsupials – bandicoot (marsupial badger), wallaby (tree kangaroo), couscous, etc. Snakes, including venomous ones, and lizards are abundant in forests and coastal areas. Crocodiles and turtles are found near the sea shores and in large rivers. Of birds, cassowaries, birds of paradise, crowned pigeons, parrots, and weedy chickens (ancestors of domestic chickens) are typical. Europeans brought domestic chickens, dogs, and pigs to the island. Feral pigs as well as rats, field mice, and some other animals spread widely.


At the time of European colonization, the territory of what is now Papua New Guinea was inhabited by Papuans and Melanesians. They lived in Stone Age conditions, hunting, fishing and gathering.

New Guinea was discovered in 1526 by the Portuguese navigator Jorge de Menezes. The island was named by the Spanish navigator Ortiz de Retis in 1545, seeing similarities between the population and that of African Guinea.

Exploration of the island and the penetration of Europeans there began only in the 19th century. Thus, the Russian explorer N. Miklukho-Maklay lived among the Papuans for almost four years (in the 1870s and early 1880s).

Other Europeans – traders, whalers, missionaries – also visited Papua New Guinea in the 19th century. Europeans brought the first iron tools to Papua New Guinea.

Since 1884, the southeastern part of the island. New Guinea (Papua) was under the rule of the British Empire, which in the early 20th century handed it over to Australia.

The northeastern part with the adjacent islands – the Bismarck Archipelago, etc. (later this territory was called New Guinea) in 1880-ies was seized by Germany. After World War I, in 1920 it was given to Australia as Mandatory Territory of the League of Nations (later – UN Trust Territory).

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In 1949 both parts (Papua and New Guinea) were administratively united by the Australian authorities.

In 1973, the territory of Papua New Guinea was granted internal self-government. In September 1975, it became an independent state.

Between 1988 and 1997, there was a guerrilla war on Bougainville Island – the Bougainville Revolutionary Army fought for the secession of the island from Papua New Guinea. To fight against the guerrillas, the PNG government used almost the entire armed forces of the country (about 2,000 soldiers and officers), and also asked for help from Australia, which sent a small contingent of troops, and hired a group of professional mercenaries. During the war, an estimated 20,000 people died.

The Independent State of Papua New Guinea

Peoples of Papua New GuineaHistory

Papua New Guinea

The settlement of Papua New Guinea began over 50,000 years ago. Settlers from different tribes from the Asian mainland, on their way to Australia and Oceania, gradually settled there as well and formed many different groups isolated from each other. This explains the multiplicity of languages spoken today by Papua New Guineans and their ethnographic diversity. The first Europeans arrived on the shores of New Guinea at the beginning of the 16th century when the Spaniard Inigo Ortiz de Ret named the island New Guinea, but all the European visits were short-lived until the 19th century, when Holland, Germany and Great Britain entered the struggle for the island. In 1906, British New Guinea was named Papua, and the territory was administered from Australia. After World War II, the island was divided between Australia and Indonesia. In 1973, the Australian part of the island, Papua New Guinea, received self-government, and in 1975 – full independence. To this day many tribes of Papua New Guinea live at a level barely beyond the Stone Age. The customs, myths and lore of these tribes are explored by ethnographers and historians who visit the colorful villages in the interior of the island.

Despite the magnificent beaches, beautiful coral reefs, unusually rich flora and fauna, Papua New Guinea has, until recently, been visited by few tourists.

Land of Volcanoes

Located in the western Pacific Ocean, north of Australia and close to the equator, the state of Papua New Guinea is an active volcanic zone. There are 18 active volcanoes, not infrequently strong earthquakes. Today, Papua New Guinea – a land almost unknown to European tourists. But this variety of flora, fauna and natural conditions is fascinating. Wet jungle and dangerous swamps, coral reefs and beautiful sandy beaches, mountainous areas with snow on the tops and green plains are home to hundreds of different tribes. Their amazing outfits, products, and customs are now the subject of attention not only by specialists. Tiny tree kangaroos, deer, birds of paradise, huge butterflies, thousands of species of flowers and plants – for the sake of this Europeans are already ready to put up with the difficulties of climate. The capital of Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby, founded by Captain John Moresby in 1873, like many cities in the country, is gradually becoming a tourist center. The National Museum has a large exhibit of Papua New Guinea’s nature, ethnography, culture and history. And in the National Botanical Park in natural conditions grows more than three thousand orchids, you can walk along hanging paths, getting acquainted with the flora of the island, without risking damage to nature.

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Papua New Guinea on the map

General Information

Official name: Independent State of Papua New Guinea. State system: constitutional monarchy, parliamentary democratic republic, independent state within the Commonwealth, led by Great Britain. Territories: part of New Guinea Island, New Ireland Island, New Hanover Island, Murua Island, New Britain Islands, D’Anthracastro, Trobriand, Admiralty, Tabar, Tanga, Feni, St. Matthias, Louisiana Archipelago. Administrative divisions: 20 provinces. Capital : Port Moresby, 254,158 inhabitants (2000) Languages: English, Tok-Pean, Hiri-Motu, and many tribal languages. Religion : According to the 2000 census. – Catholics 27%, Lutherans 19.5%, United Church 11.5%, Adventists 10%, Pentecostals 8.6%, Evangelicals 5.2%, Anglicans 3.2%, Baptists 2.5%, other Protestants 8.9%, Bahais 0.3%, Native and other faiths 3.3%. Currency unit: the kina. Largest city: Port Moresby. The main seaports are Lae, Port Moresby, Madang. Major airports: Jackson International Airport (Port Moresby). Important rivers: Sepik, Kikori, Purari. The largest lakes: Lake Murray. Neighboring countries: Indonesia, Australia (no land border).


Area: 462 840 km 2 Population: 6 057 263 (2009) Population density: 13 persons/km 2 Ethnic composition: Melanesians, Pagtua, Negrito, Micronesians, Polynesians Length of borders: the land border (with Indonesia) is 820 km. Length of the coastline: 5152 km. Highest point: Mount Wilhelm, 4,509 m.


GDP : US$ 6.363 billion GDP per capita : $2,300 (2008). Industry : food industry, mining, major copper and gold deposits, oil production and oil refining, logging, clothing factories. Agriculture : growing oil palms, coconuts, cocoa, tea, coffee, rubber trees, root crops, bananas, vegetables; fishery, shrimp and lobster. Service industry : tourism. Features of the economy : In the interior mountainous areas, the population is subsistence farmers and is still engaged in gathering wild plants.


Port Moresby : university, historic Town Center, Ela Church, National Museum, National Botanical Park; Islands : reefs, unique underwater world, shipwrecks.

Facts of interest

90% of Papua New Guinea is covered by tropical forests with an unusually rich variety of flora and fauna. Varirata National Park, near Port Moresby, is the first nature reserve ever created in Papua New Guinea. It was once the hunting grounds of coastal tribal chiefs, but today you can see the life of unique animals and birds of paradise. Bayer River Reserve, 55 km north of Mount Hagen, is home to possums, tree kangaroos, parrots, cassowaries and birds of paradise. ■ The Russian traveler and explorer Nikolai Nikolaevich Miklukho-Maclay (1846-1888) lived among the Papuans for a total of nearly four years, studying their life and manners. In his writings the scientist proved that the Papuans were not an inferior race, but possessed the same abilities as the Europeans. Near the capital of East Sepik, Vewak, is Cape Wom, where on September 13, 1945, Japanese Lieutenant-General Adachi signed the surrender of the last Japanese garrison on the island and gave his sword to American General Robertson.

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