Quick Facts

  • Officially known as the Independent State of Papua New Guinea
  • Gained independence from the Australian-administered UN trusteeship on September 16, 1975
  • Location: Oceania, a 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
  • Area: 178,703 sq. miles, slightly larger than the state of California
  • Population: 6,672,429
  • Capital: Port Moresby (pop. 345,000)
  • Climate: tropical; northwest monsoon (Dec.-March), southeast monsoon (May-Oct.), slight seasonal temperature variation
  • Terrain: mostly mountains with coastal lowlands and rolling foothills
  • Nationality: Papua New Guineans
  • Ethnic groups: Melanesian, Papuan, Negrito, Micronesian, Polynesian, others (the most heterogeneous country in the world)
  • Languages: Tok Pisin (official), English (official), Hiri Motu (official) – over 841 languages listed
  • Religions: Roman Catholic 27%, Protestant 69.4%, other
  • Literacy: 64.2%
  • Economy: Agriculture provides a subsistence livelihood for 85% of the people.  One-third of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day. Mineral deposits of copper, gold, and oil account for 2/3 of the country’s export earnings.
  • Current weather conditions: www.weather.com
  • Tips for travel in country: www.travel.state.gov
  • Currency exchange rates: www.xe.com

Government in Power

  • Papua New Guinea government is a constitutional parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
  • Chief of state: Queen Elizabeth II (since 1952), represented by Governor General Michael Ogio (since 2011) – appointed by the monarchy
  • Head of government: Prime Minister Peter Paire O’Neill (since 2011), leader of the majority party or majority coalition party and appointed by the governor general


Healthcare Statistics

  • Maternal mortality rate: 215/100,000
  • Infant mortality rate: 38.55/1,000
  • Life expectancy: 67.03 years
  • Health expenditures: 4.5% of GDP
  • Physicians density: 0.06 physicians/1,000 population
  • HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate: 0.72%
  • Major infections diseases risk: very high
  • Infectious diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, typhoid fever, dengue fever, malaria
  • Malaria is the leading cause of death.
  • Children under the age of 5 underweight: 27.9%
  • Infectious disease updates:  http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list.htm

Images From the Field

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Area Agencies

Field Stories

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