Papua New Guinea (PNG) is home to over four million people, who speak over 800 languages, and to nearly 180 different species of mammals and 660 species of birds. Migration from the South Pacific, Europe, and Asia over hundreds of years has added to the striking diversity of this country.
Papua New Guinea is a parliamentary democracy and a member of the British Commonwealth. The Head of State is Queen Elizabeth II. She is represented in PNG by a governor general appointed by the Prime Minister. Elections are held every five years. The country is divided into 20 provinces, including the district of the nation's capital. Each province has its own government with limited authority from the national government to operate capital works, health, education, business development, and other local matters.
The Prime Minister is elected by the members of National Parliament, and his cabinet members must also be members of parliament. Legislative power rests with the 109-member National Parliament.
There are two distinct economies in PNG. One is the traditional village-based agrarian society involving almost three-fourths of the population. The remaining quarter of the population works in export-related industries, such as gold, copper, coffee, cocoa, forest products, and fish.
This country is rich in natural resources, including gold, copper, hydrocarbons, tropical timber, fisheries, and forest products. Oil fields are being developed in the Gulf and South Highlands provinces. The government has taken an active role in approving economic reforms to ease trade and investment regulations, promoting growth in all sectors.
A few problems affecting PNG's economic development include ethnic conflict and tribal violence among the more than 1000 ethnic groups; land disputes over communal land holdings; and disputes over compensation for mineral deposits. Other issues include human rights abuse and environmental questions.
Papua New Guinea today
Expatriates will find that PNG's capital, Port Moresby, has numerous high-rise office buildings, modern apartment buildings, and luxurious homes in both the city and its suburbs. This architectural development stands in dramatic contrast to the traditional stilt houses that grace the oceans bordering the city.