Land of the unexpected

via Papua New Guinea


Papua New Guinea

Land of the Unexpected

The Independent State of Papua New Guinea is located just below (or south) of the equator and to the north of Australia. The main island of New Guinea shares a common border of approximately 800+ kilometres with Indonesia (Irian Jaya). The other main islands are New Ireland, New Britain and Bougainville. PNG has a population of over 5 million.

The total land area of PNG is approximately 450,000 sq kms.

The first European contact with PNG is reported as being around 1526 when a Portuguese explorer, Jorge de Meneses named the the country as Ilhas dos Papuas or simply in English the land of the fuzzy haired people.

PNG was granted self government from Australia in 1973 and achieved independence on the 16th day of September 1975

Estimates of the number of languages spoken in PNG varies from a conservative 700 to over 800. It is reported that this could be over one third of all indigenous languages spoken in the world. To help everyone communicate three main languages are used. English, Neo Melanesian or Tok Pidgin and Motu, although Motu is only spoken on the southern most side of the main island.

The climate is usually hot, humid and during the wet season - very wet. The wet season usually exists between December and March. In some parts of PNG the rainfall exceed 20 feet or 6 metres a year!

The capital of PNG is Port Moresby which is much drier than the rest of the country. It usually only has a yearly rainfall of 1 metre or approximately 39 inches of rain

The tallest mountain in PNG is called Mt Wilhelm which is located in the Chimbu Province. It is approximately 4,500 metres or about 14,750 feet

The main exports for PNG are gold, copper ore, oil, logs, palm oil, coffee, cocoa, fish, crayfish, prawns and bech de mere (sea slugs).

Papua New Guinea has several radio stations and one television station. The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) run Shortwave and AM Services with Radio Kalang broadcasting on FM. Other commercial FM radio stations operate from Port Moresby.

Some Terms from PNG

Balus - Pidgin English for aeroplane
Bilum - A bilum is a string bag made from natural fibres
Buai - Betel Nut
Garamut - A drum made from a hollowed out tree trunk
Kundu - A drum made from a limb of a tree
PMV - A public motor vehicle (a small 24 seat bus)



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Created 9 Apr, 1998
Updated 1 Sep, 2006

© 1998 - Trevor Michie